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Help me choose the right plants


Am currently working on our back garden and am trying to learn! It's west-facing, slopes uphill and is overlooked by another house in winter when the leaves from the tree opposite fall. It's all clay. I've divided it in two zones in an attempt to handle the slope and overlooking, also adding trellis. 

Please can I have your ideas on planting - I'm totally stumped! It's for the back part of the garden - images below. There is a gravel zone with shrubs and pots with bay, box and olive, and the back part which is what I'm currently focusing on, being lawn (if you can call it that - don't ask about the shocking fail in the photos!) with laurels to the left and red robin to the right.

I can't decide on what to do to the back and right border. To the right I have red robins which are lovely and will hopefully grow to distract the eye from the shed a little (which I'd like to hide as much as possible), and a few bamboos in raised big pots which I've just moved from elsewhere (I'd rather not put it in the ground!). I can't decide if I should keep them somehow in their current location (as I think they look a little strange there), just sell them on, or move down to the gravel area for extra seclusion? And I'm really unsure about the back raised bed - a focal point/visual full-stop would help the garden but not sure how to do this with planting that will be in harmony with the rest of the garden. It's a tricky spot too as underneath the dappled shade of the tree. It would also be nice to get some kind of height back there to distract from the looming house, but again not sure.

- Should I move the bamboo from the lawned zone into the gravel zone or get rid? (In which case, what do you recommend to use in its place in the right border?)

- What should I put in the raised bed at the back?

Thanks all




  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,557

    I really like the area in the foreground. Do you use/need the lawn? I'd terrace the slope and create more gravel areas, with a path that winds up (rather than going straight up the middle), and perennial borders that you see through as you look up the slope.

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,557

    I'd cover the back fence with dark evergreen climbers/shrubs. 

  • seacrowsseacrows Posts: 234

    I'd copy some bits from a show garden I saw years ago.

    A clematis, possibly a montana type which would like its roots somewhere dampish  and a little shady, right next to the shed. It will cover as much of the shed as you let it, pretty much evergreen, and once a year an amAzing flower display.

    A mirror, at a slight angle so it doesn't just reflect the person looking. This changes the back fence from a solid block of timber, to something that looks like a path or view further. Myself, I'd probably grow an ivy, or some red-leaved foliage climber to surround the mirror, and coordinate with your red robins. You should certainly be able to find something to tolerate or even enjoy the dappled shade.

    In the raised bed, that really depends on how deep the shade gets. For low maintenance, I'd think prostrate juniper or other low growing conifers. They'll take some shade, OK with clay soil and there are lots of colour/habit variations. Or for the total opposite, go with annuals. A new display every year based on what caught your eye at the garden centre.

    I like bamboo, so would keep those. They put some background sound into a garden. I agree though, unless you're absolutely sure they are well-behaved, non-invasive types, keeping them in pots might be best. The good thing about being in pots is that you never have to make a permanent decision on placing. Try them in the gravelled area, and see what the trade-off between increased shade and increased seclusion is like. For me, the garden looks too narrow to manage tall shrubs on both sides, but YMMV.

    C'mon folks, throw in some more ideas.

  • JDLJDL Posts: 4

    Thanks for your comments so far - very helpful. Good ideas. Working on the garden today.

    I had originally thought about a second gravel area at the back as a low terrace, but the garden slopes the other way too so it'll be difficult to look right. 

    I've been playing with ideas and have worked up something in Photoshop. I've tried to use planting as a focal point (butterfly bush) and compliment the curve on the border on the right (obscured in the photo) by using another curve at the back. What do you think? I'm also wondering if I even need the log roll there, or if I should just have a gently sloping bank. Any thoughts?


    And I'm still totally stumped about what to do with the bamboo - I've got three plants, one of which is very nice with the other too needing some TLC. Shall I just move them on? Or do you think they can be used somehow in the design? One flanking each trellis and one in front of the shed perhaps?


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