NEWBIE NEEDS YOUR HELP! Small town garden pet and child friendly plants

Hi everyone - this is my second attempt at posting this - my first timed out - oops!
Well I am a total newbie to gardening (think greener than the greenest thing you have ever seen).
I live in the uk, and am a single parent to my 2 beautiful young children. Both of my kids are under 5, and my youngest (2) is disabled.He suffers from GDD and cerebral palsy - which means his moility is limited and he appears very clumsy. I have an small dog (affenpinscher), and i am looking to create a garden that we can all enjoy safely!
I have absoloutly no idea where to start - i know nothing about plants, lawn care, planting, garden design, pet and chlid friendly planting, etc etc etc
My garden is a complete blank canvas, and i have the time and wilingness to put in all the labour, i just need the advice and encouragement! I do though (well being a single mammy) have the smallest of small small budgets, so i know this isnt going to be one of those miricle overnight garden makeovers.
my garden is:
* 4m wide x 10m long * north facing * house is on south "wall" with small patio in front * fenced (panel fencing) on 3 remaining sides to 4ft high * behind north fence is mature hedgerow - 12ft high * clay soil (solid lol) * laid to lawn - very patchy, weak and unhealthy looking * access to garden is only through the house. * very shady
I want:
* child and pet friendly design * child and pet friendly planting * help on selecting shrubs, and all planting * help and ideas for a design * not too many annual plants (i'm a single mum and cant afford to replant the garden each spring)
* as much colour and scent as is possible (being child and pet friendly too)
not asking to much am i? I have absoloutly no idea where to start, and need you all to kind of hold my hand through it all, please please please can you help?
Sally xxx
--
venusmist


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I suggest you visit your local library and pick up a few gardening design books.

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venusmist wrote:

I don't often suggest lawn but it is one of the few natural surfaces that are good for children to play on and have some chance of not turning into dust/mud. You will have a challenge on solid clay, shaded, facing the pole. I suggest getting in a lawn person to have a look at it to see if it is salvageable. I know you said the budget is limited but somebody who knows their stuff here will save you lots in the long run. Maybe a family friend or somebody from the local garden club? If it's just too shady it may be impossible to keep covered.

Tough non-toxic non-spiky shrubs. Annuals don't take to being run over so well.

Can't help, don't know your region, you need somebody who does.

Get some books from the library and write down in detail all the things you want, then start drafting plans. Try to wait until you have seen all the seasons and know where is wet/dry, some sun/no sun etc, before making the final decision.

Good idea. Maybe a few for colour in beds out of the flight path that can self-seed each year and save you replanting.

Select the right shrubs, grasses and groundcovers.

This will be quite difficult but very rewarding if you pull it off. Good luck.
David
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Thanks people,
I have been out and borrowed a couple of design books from the library, but as to plants, i have absoloutly no idea.
Looking through garden centres etc, it seems every plant "is best planted in full sun", on "well drained soil".
so - what can i plant in my crappy patch? Also none of the lables in the garden centre said whether they were toxic to people or pets.
--
venusmist

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On Tue, 10 Mar 2009 16:04:16 +0000, venusmist

For starters determine your patch environment for water content and humidity hours of AM/PM sun or dappled sunlight soil test results seasonal temperatures
Labels are quite safe for people and pets.
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venusmist wrote:

Tell me about it!

The soil will need to be improved, this is mainly to change the texture and hydrolic properties, not so much to add nutrients. Put simply the more organic matter you add the better. Find a local garden club for species recomendations. Don't worry about the labels.
David
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wrote:

try here for toxic plants:
www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants
Emilie
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Here is another one:
www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/ce/king/
emilie
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On Mon, 9 Mar 2009 19:48:14 +0000, venusmist

We all got this one. :-)

Dogs can always be a problem in the garden so your Affenpinscher although very small will always wonder after you plant something: "now what was she doing?" then investigate after you plant something in your garden. You will need some sort of barrier initially to protect your plantings.
For example I have two medium sized dogs and when I plant tomatoes takes about 1o minutes and about 4 hours to construct a barrier to stop the dogs from eating the ripe tomatoes.
You would be better off to visit a local nursery, they would give better advice about what plants are viable in your region and times of planting etc.
--

John


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