I have a long garden that I would like to improve - I have completely
returfed a year and a half ago, and laid some wooden edging (please
don't laugh!). My problem is that I am a complete novice and need some
help deciding what to do down the left hand side (and all over to
improve the overall appearance).
Ideally I would have liked to have a flower border alongside the hedge
but I am afraid that it won't get enough sunlight, and that I won't be
able to cut the hedge either. We have a northerly facing garden so the
left hand side only gets a few hours in the morning.
I can't afford to take down the hedge and put in a fence so that is out.
Any ideas/tips would be great. Am trying to reseed some of the patchy
areas on my lawn too.
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I would not be inclined to plant a long thin garden in front of the hedge
even if it would grow there, the place will look even more like a rifle
range. Consider perenials and shrubs in largeish clumps at several places
down the yard to break up the long thin straight look and make the outlook
more interesting. This would give some little nooks to sit in if you have
nice weather. Put the taller plants to the back near the hedge. You will
be able to get some that suit your climate that will have interesting
folliage or flower in part sun. It cannot be that dark if the grass is
growing OK. Also some taller shrubs in front of that shed (which is no
beauty) and/or maybe a climber/scrambler over it. And how about some veges
or dwarf fruit trees on the sunny side? Some veges look really good as well
as being tasty.
The photo appears to be from an upper floor and there is a deck near ground
level. If that is so plan your layout so that it looks good from both
points of view. As for the patchy lawn if you have little children that
need to play I suppose you are stuck with it, otherwise consider growing
something more interesting that will be less work in the long run. With a
small yard like that you could eventually do away with the mower and all it
On the left (west) side I would eliminate the border and extend the
lawn right to the hedge. That hedge defines a sharper, cleaner edge
than the border does, so the border there actually detracts from
the design value of the hedge. That's a fine hedge, by the way;
do you know how to maintain it? It will need regular clipping, a
nuisance job to do across a flower bed.
I would break up the lawn into "rooms", with a meandering passage
from room to room. That would involve a bed or two extending from
the hedge into the lawn, and from the fence into the lawn. Given
the hedge and fence, you have "partial shade" conditions. Not too
bad. Consider that when a vertical barrier behind a garden bed
is in shade, flowers on tall slender stems really POP. Think tall
varieties of poppy, daffodil, iris, tulip, daylily, etc. I have
daffodils where for several hours each afternoon the flowers are
in full sun but the wall behind them is shaded. The flowers look
Beds running into the lawn will get more sun than up against the
Against the fence I would grow climbing roses or other plants that
can make use of the fence and cover it.
How do you use the space? How do you want to use it? Go sit at
various spots around the garden, perhaps with a drink in hand,
and simply contemplate the space around you. Ideas will come to
you. Do you want it formal, informal? Elegant? Cosy? Spare?
Full? Low maintenance? Water conserving? Perennial?
I see pale cool colors in the bed under the red fence. Change
the color of the fence, or change the colors in the bed. Lots of
garden design books illustrate color combinations that work well.
I think those flowers would look better against the hedge.
Do I see a step in the grass back there? Someone is going to get
I would move the rotary clothesline behind the cedar(?) so I don't
see it. Can you rotate the shed 90 degrees, so the door opens to
cement pad back there? Does it have windows also on the side now
against the hedge? I would rotate it and move it forward (south)
a few feet so it is up against the edge of the pad. I would have
a flower bed (more roses, very tall hollyhocks?) in front of it.
The roof of the shed will give that bed a little extra water than
other parts of the yard.
I'd remove the bush that is growing up in the cedar; the tree is
a very elegant plant, by itself. If you have any desire for a
little topiary in your garden, or some Zen rocks, that's where it
First of all, thank you for taking the time to reply, much appreciated.
That's exactly what I was thinking - will do that today. I do have
issues with part of my hedge in that the neighbours have a dog and have
put stones there to fill in the gaps. Any suggestions?
Yes, I need to think about how this will look, at the moment I'm pretty
much lost as to what do with reguards to shape and position for flower
To answer your questions my fionce and I like to spend time time with
drinks and bbq's in the garden when the weather permits! I don't want to
go too mad as we will probably move within the next 2 years. We are both
novices and work fairly long hours 5 days a week so I was thinking of
putting some sort of decorative gravel down in parts to lessen the
The fence and shed will be painted, either a pale cream or dark brown.
Unfortunately, the shed will have to stay put. Here is a picture to give
you a better idea of what the back looks like (just filled a builder's
skip full of rubbish from the back).
Yes I need to cut it back. :)
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Egg80, if you plan to stay only 2 years you should decide right now if you
want to do a fast makeover so the garden looks fabulous when it goes on the
market, or do you want to keep it simple?
Given the house is cream with "redwood" trim, I would leave the shed and
fence paint alone. Their current color is keyed to the house trim and it
looks pretty good to me.
I would focus attention on the hedge, and on filling out the rather empty
looking beds under the fence. As you are beginners and not planning to
stay long, consider filling the fence beds with some pretty annuals from
a garden shop. See what you like.
The hedge looks like it needs fertilizer, more water, a little pruning,
and some organic mulch.
It looks like the neighbor has a low wall on the other side of the hedge,
but there are some holes in the wall, with flagstones (or broken cement)
covering the holes from your side. Did the neighbor put them there, or
the previous occupant of your house? Discuss with the neighbor repairing
the holes in the wall or covering them from the neighbor's side, maybe
with rectangles of plywood slipped between the wall and the neighbor's
side of the hedge, while you encourage the hedge to grow into the gaps.
It looks like someone on your side of the hedge cut it back to the stems
last year. This year, many new twigs will grow from the stems. I would
rake all the stones and trash from the soil between the hedge and grass,
then work compost and/or chemical fertilizer into the soil, then apply
grass seed. You may want to match the seed to your turf. Watering the
grass seed will also water the hedge.
That's too bad. The approach to the shed door is both constrained by
the step in the lawn, and blocked by the clothesline. I would find
that highly annoying. Can you put a new door on the backside and
"forget" the front door?
You aren't ready to start making major changes to the garden, until
deciding on some key questions like your preferred style and detailed
use. In a long narrow property one normal strategy so to split the
space into two parts, a front garden and a back garden, with a visual
barrier between the two. However, you have that huge tree at the
midpoint. From the new photos I guess it is a yew ... that has been
sheared? Anyway, it will cause the middle of the garden to be more
shaded than the rest in summer.
One way to see how flowers and shade edges work together, you can get
a few survey flags (bits of plastic on long stiff wires) at a hardware
store and stick them here and there and move them around.
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