Barely started and I'm already overwhelmed!
My garden was mostly rubble when I moved in. The renovatons are almost complete but apart from seeding it for grass, I've no idea what to do with it. I've been reading up about plants but keep being put off when I read something negative, or I can't find them for sale locally. Also I really can't picture what things will look like long term. I know that perennials die back in winter so does that mean the garden will be bare soil? How do I mow the lawn around these plants? It's all very stressfu!
I feel like giving up basically, and just having grass with maybe one tree/bush plonked in the middle to give the appearance that I've made some sort of effort. The garden is quite big, about 23m long. It wraps around the house with the widest part being 15m and the narrow part about 7m.
I'm obviously useless at gardening as I haven't managed well with the few pot plants I currently have. I've even managed to kill the vinca minor!
Does anyone have any advice, before I throw in the towel completely?
Perhaps post some photos from various angles. Which way does the garden face? Do you have children?
Take one small portion at a time to do. You could lay the rest to lawn the meantime As the maintenance is simple ish and prevents you having to weed all of the time. Why do you want to use the garden and what do you want to use it for? No point in having a desire for pristine bowling green lawn if you've got family that want to play footie or a swing there.
If you've just finished renovations, take a break and think about your garden, look at it from different views. Garden for the long term and not the short term, but a few well chosen plants can give you a bit of a view in the short term as well as a seasonal pot to look at and look after, for some colour and cheer.
Have a look at your neighbours gardens, what works in their garden and what isn't there. Accept you can't have everything you would like. I love azaleas and rhododendrons and camellias but I'm on Cotswold limestone, so only have a single in a pot!
Im afraid you'll have to start with the foundations for the garden and that's the ground prep and soil preparations. Please don't spend a fortune on plants, to put them into impoverished and unimproved soil as they will not thrive and you'll be even more disappointed. And have wasted money in the process. buy them when youre ready to put them in.
If you've a local garden club and it's your thing, go along. If it's not your thing go along anyway to pick others brains about what to do. If you know a local gardener or designer, it may be worth spending the money for an hour of their time for their views and advice.
There are plants for every situation, but definitely the right plant right place in right soil
Sorry that sounds a bit like a lecture when I read it back. Gardening is definitely for the soul and soil, and it sounds as though your soul needs a bit of a break. Are you doing this by yourself? If there is a quiet and sunny spot in your garden space that can you make a space for a few paving stones to fit a table and chairs. At least you can sit there and have a cuppa or glass of something. And just stop for a while.
The main part of the garden faces south west. The side faces east. I've no children. I think the soil is acid as there are lots of dandelions around here and the hydrangeas are blue. I don't need the lawn to look like a bowling green. As long as it's green and reasonably tidy looking I'm happy enough. I just want some plants too because it will look boring being all grass. The neighbours seem to have a few evergreen shrubs and lawn, and tbh their gardens look almost as boring to me as just having grass.
I also didn't realise how long things take to grow, which puts me off as they'll never look as good as the pictures on google.
Some of the rubble has been removed and the topsoil is being delivered this week. They only removed the top layer of the rubble so I imagine its going to still be quite stony.
Last edited: 20 May 2017 17:23:48
We often feel overwhelmed ....... it's all part and parcel of being a gardener .... another very important part is sitting down and having a cuppa and just looking at things.
Get yourself a copy of Alan Titchmarsh's book on Small Gardens in the How to be a Gardener series - it's under £6 on Amazon, less second hand or most libraries have a copy.
Also, now is the time of year that lots of private gardens are open for charity one or two days as part of the National Garden Scheme https://www.ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/
Find a few gardens in your area and go and have a look around ... take a camera and get some photos of areas and plants that you like and bring them back here and post them for us to have a look at ... we'll help you find ways to adapt ideas and make them right for you and your garden.
And don't be intimidated by the 'perfect' gardens that you see ............... people have been slaving their socks off for years to get their gardens fit to open ... you're just beginning ... no one expects your garden to be perfect ... it's all trial and error and experiment ... but what is important is that you enjoy the process
Also, most of the garden owners love answering questions about their gardens and everyone likes helping beginners .......... so be brave, ask lots of questions as you look around
Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.
Don't worry , we all feel overwhelmed at times.There is not really a lot more I can add at the moment, except to say that if you have a local garden centre, they can be really helpful in terms of advice re: plants etc. The cup of tea or coffee and a sit down and just breathe really does work It really is possible to have a nice garden that doesn't involve non stop work - honest !
Last edited: 20 May 2017 17:54:26
Such good comments above - be kind to yourself and give yourself time - the garden will still be there next year.
There is no harm at all in just putting down a lawn for now - you can dig paths, patios and borders out of it later - it's what most of us have done.
I echo the advice to spend time thinking about how and when you want to use the garden - and to try and think where any permanent structures need to be.
Do you need somewhere to store gardening equipment, garden chairs, bikes etc? (you'll need a lawnmower at the very least ) - in which case you'll need a shed - preferably on a concrete base. That will be a permanent structure - have a think about the best place for it.
Do you want to sit or eat in the garden? - look at where the sun is at different times of the day. If you like sitting in the sun you'll want to make a sitting area where the sun is at the times you'll use the garden. You might want several sitting areas - perhaps one for breakfast - another for an evening drink - another to sit in the shade.
Do you actually want to garden as such? - if so, you'll want borders and beds. If not, but you want something that looks cared for (but with less work), we'll need to consider some low maintenance options for you.
The planting is a little way down the line. When it comes to it there are many helpful folks on here to help you select the best plants for your needs.
For now - enjoy your cuppa
Perennials are generally planted into the borders so they don't stop you mowing the lawn. You could get inspiration by visiting gardens in the National Garden Scheme. These are mainly private gardens which once or twice a year for charity, and often do have for sale the plants which are growing in the garden. That way you can see the actual thing rather than photos.
Here's the link https://www.ngs.org.uk/
Thank you for all the words of encouragement and advice. I already love visiting open gardens but the problem is I get carried away! I take photos of whatever beautiful plants I've seen and am determined that I'll have them too, only to be put off once I read about how hard they are to grow or how long they take. I also lack patience, which I'm sure is a bad thing with gardening. And I get embarrassed asking people because I'm sure they seem like really stupid questions.
For now, I'll have it all as lawn until I work out what to do. It's actually easier for me to know what I don't want rather than what I do.
there is no such thing as a stupid question, don't worry about how silly or maybe basic you think the question is, ask away. The daft thing is not asking and getting demoralised If there are losses or mistakes.
On the subject of mistakes, we've all made them, and nature has a habit of laughing at us occasionally too. The NGS scheme expects the gardens to be of a high standard, and for me unattainable in my plot as I work full time. The owners have probably spent weeks or months getting the garden up to scratch if you've got the time it's lovely. Most of the battle with plants is the right soil and the right place, get that bit sorted and you've done most of the work. From what you've already posted some of the rubble has gone and the top soil is being delivered. That's a huge start and a good one too. If you have some good neighbours, they are likely to be chopping their plants or dividing them at some stage, and I'm sure will be only too happy to donate some small plants to you if you would like them.
If you've got the budget and would like some instant effect, there is no reason why you can't invest in some larger specimens. But look around, take your time. Natures time for planting is the autumn, so kick back, water your turf well and walk on the fresh grass until you can work out what you would like where. There are many on here who would be delighted to give you advice on their experiences of particular plants and situations.