Another Garden Makeover

Mary & I have been away for a few days visiting our son and his girlfriend in their new house; partly, to help out with a garden makeover and, partly, for a family get-together when both daughters and their families visited. We arrived with plants, compost, garden tools; ready to help transform the space.

The garden was typical of new-build estates; about 15 feet wide by 35 feet long with a small paved patio nearest the house. The housebuilder had turfed the area on a topsoil base of ~4 inches (or 10 cm). The grass had grown to 8-12 inches with most of that growth lying flat! So it looked green but underneath the low-lying grass had turned brown so it wasn't going to look pretty after cutting.

Garden a few months after moving in

All form and function decisions were made by the youngsters - we just provided free labour, free advice and free plants in exchange for free bed and board. The food was delicious! Apart from the specifics - paved seating area at the far end of the garden, lots of all-year-round colour, and an area for vegetables and fruit - the design was fairly flexible and always up for discussion!

Day 1: Cut the grass with shears and a strimmer. Install a narrow L-shaped raised bed around the perimeter, and fill it with overturned grass turves and some local bought-in topsoil. Dig up some bushes (Ceanothus, variegated Holly and Photinia) from the front garden* and replant them in the middle and at both ends of the new raised bed. The corrugated raised beds had been assembled before we arrived so just had to be placed in position and filled with overturned turves and fresh topsoil. Make a start on the small patio area at the end of the garden using reclaimed concrete slabs. Dig 'island' plot for flowers and herbs; basically, just turn over the grass turf and add some topsoil. At the end of the day, the garden looked like...

Garden at the end of Day 1

Day 2: Finish patio area and prepare another bed on the right-hand-side (it turned out Mary had brought quite a lot of plants!). Plant up raised bed with raspberries and sweet peas. Relocate another plant (Dogwood) from the front garden to the back garden and plant the rhubarb. Put down bark over some of the paths. Much of Day 2 was taken up with the family visit; we walked across fields filled with ewes and lambs to the village fete at the local parish hall and had some success in the raffle and at the tombola. At the end of Day 2, the garden looked like...

Garden at the end of Day 2

Day 3: We departed mid-morning so did not contribute much; just added a few more plants and removed a small wasp's nest from the shed before heading off home. The youngsters still found time to dig another bed (for courgettes), complete the grass strimming and put down some more bark paths. At the end of Day 3...

Garden at the end of Day 3

* The developers of the housing estate, or their gardening subcontractors, had done a decent job of planting up the front gardens and public areas in order to sell the houses. A good range of bushes had been planted albeit too close together because they were aiming for that instant impact. So thinning out the bushes in the front garden and transplanting some to the back garden was a win-win situation.

The original plan was to get rid of the grass altogether (thus obviating the need for a lawnmower). At some point, the patio adjacent to the house will be extended, further reducing the lawn area. The fate of the remaining lawn will be decided later. Best to live with the changes for a while before planning the next stage.

We had a great time and returned home a little tired but happy. We will be back to see the garden as it develops over the coming months.


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