Forum home Problem solving

Child friendly ideas for East facing garden with clay soil and vast bay tree

Hi all,

I am a year in to my new garden which has clay soil( I don't know the ph but have just ordered a tester), faces east and has a huge bay tree on the southfacing fence, the roots of which seem to stretch out halfway across the garden. We live in London so its not a big garden but comfortable.

I have great intentions but little knowhow! It was a jungle when we moved in and I've slowly cleared it out but I'm now at a bit of a loss what to do! With little kids I'd like to encourage wildlife and also have child friendly plants which aren't too precious nor spikey but still have colour and interest.

I'd love any suggestions which plants would be best suited to this type of garden and also to know if its possible to grow anything under the bay tree? 

Many thanks for any advice!


  • Hi meml

    I'm just getting to know my garden too, and loving it! I have a three-year-old and a four-year-old who love 'minibeasts' - what about a buddleia (butterfly bush). We have five, purples and white,  they are supposed to be tough, impossible to kill and were covered in butterflies in the summer. Not sure how they do in clay but, like I said, they're supposed to be tough...

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,974

    Have you any photos of the site? That helps with advice. Buddleias are fine in any reasonable  soil Elspeth - so that's a great start   image

    There's plenty you can grow - what are your specific likes and dislikes (colours etc) and how much time do you have to maintain them? That's a very important factor. Shrubs, once established,  take very little maintenance, and you can add perennials and bulbs for extra colour and interest. What else do you want to use the garden for? Do you want grass? Do you have a seating area or any other features there? Veg growing? 

    Any other info will help with suggestions.

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,968

    Do a little raised bed for each child, and take them to the store and let them pick out a few packets of seeds.  My son choose a few packets of flowers and peas and carrots this year, and has excitedly planted up some seeds for the windowsill and others have gone direct into the ground (depending on their hardiness).  He's super excited about eating his own produce, and watching his flowers grow.  I end up doing most of the maintenance and weeding, put he enjoys watering and checking on their growth.  He's six, and this is his third year with his own garden area.  His little three year old brother is just starting this year.  I picked out sunflowers for him, as they are easy for his little fat fingers to plant and easy to notice.  

    If you don't have sun for a veg garden, consider soft fruit bushes ideal for your location.  I've got a good size garden with lots of plants.. but the only ones my boys notice are the trees they can climb and the soft fruit they can eat.  Currents, gooseberries, no-thorn blackberries, raspberries, etc.  

    I don't bother netting anything, the boys and the birds compete to see who can eat the most.  Usually the birds win with the strawberries, currents, etc, but they seem to leave the cane fruit pretty much alone.  

    Utah, USA.
  • memlmeml Posts: 2

    imageThank you all of you for your advice. 

    Elspeth, our neighbours have buddleia in bloom at the moment and it looks beautiful

    Fairygirl, I'm hoping I've attached a picture of our garden. As you can see our fences are pretty unattractive so I'd like some climbers to cover as much ad possible. We also have a little run down bridge in the middle and a pond we filled in because of kids to the right of the bridge.

    Time wise I love pottering around in the garden and can probably comfortably do a few hours a week but ideally I'd like it relatively low maintenance. I think shrubs may be better with some perennials. Though I would also like a veg patch and love Blue Onions suggestion of individual raised beds for kids.

    Colourwise I'd just like lots of colours - to be more specific whites,blues/purples and pinks and keen to have lots of different shapes and texture.

    We currently have a very sad looking lawn which we'd like to keep so a football can be kicked around nd we would of course like a seating area which will probably stay where it is at the bottom right of the picture.

    Thanks so much for your advice!

    Last edited: 03 May 2017 14:31:53

Sign In or Register to comment.