minnie101

Garden design help needed

minnie101
13 March, 2015
Hi. We haven't touched our garden since we moved in and I am at a loss as to what to do with it. The garden is approx 9m x 15m. We aren't gardeners at all so really want something to sit and eat in with a wow factor that doesn't require any skilled upkeep. I really want to carry some of the inside outside potentially using either ginger jars or oriental ceramic garden stools, if they are weatherproof, but in a georgian layout. Issues to sort are levelling the patio, which is currently 3 levels and both of us dislike unfortunately, creating privacy on the left side during winter and something to improve the appearance of the walls. I will probably keep the ivy, acer and wisteria on the right for privacy (after some serious pruning!). I'm not keen on any of the other shrubs other than the olive which we brought with us from the last house. Would also like a water feature. Budget is about 10k. I love courtyard gardens particularly italian but am conscious of the cost of paving an area that size. Any ideas are welcome. Thanks in advance.

Comments (44)

  • Peter Butler
    I'd say start with a good tidy up, cut bushes back, remove all the dead or plants you don't like, give the grass a cut that sort of thing. Thats what i did with my garden when i first moved in.. Makes a hell of difference.
    minnie101 thanked Peter Butler
  • amw122
    I don't see a lot wrong with your garden as it is, as petalnack says, a good tidy up, failing that what about paving a semi circle at the wall and steps, to match the paths and just keep the rest in grass. That gives plenty of places for patio accessories of your choosing and entertaining. Painting the walls would brighten the corner in the last photo.
    minnie101 thanked amw122
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    the layout and planting ideas are great, thank you. the garden is south facing, so the evening sun is on the triangular area nearest the front door. I put bamboo screening up but there's a footpath the other side of the metal fence, and it got vandalised so often that I gave up. ditto the few fence panels we had put up against the metal fence to give us some privacy. it's council and of course they refuse to erect a decent fence, or facilitate some sort of system where we pay them back in instalments. I dont expect handouts, I'd have a 6' high fence put up tomorrow if I could afford it. hiring a skip is also out of my budget, so I've gradually been taking stuff to the tip or burning it. I have kids and pets including chickens, and although I'd like to think I'll grow some veg in the raised beds, I know I'll never get round to it! the sheds: one small one is a potting shed, the other small one in the corner chicken run is storage, and the big one is supposed to be a workshop but is currently crammed with stuff that needs sorting and storing or chucking, including all my tools, garden tools, kids toys, camping stuff, etc etc. I'm sure you get the picture! there are 2 greenhouses and umpteen raised beds, stacks of bricks, wood, bits of shed panelling, old Windows etc, because my husband had lots of plabd for the garden and did loads of growing veg etc, but never got round to finishing anything. in his defence this is Wales, it rains all the bloody time, and of course there are never enough hours in the day. however, we have recently separated, so I now find myself staring in horror at the whole overwhelming project, scratching my head, wondering where the hell to start, and then closing my eyes and pretending it's not there.
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  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd
    I agree with the others in that a general clean and tidy up would help. The lawns are in a shocking state. Looking at your idea books suggests you like lots of hardscaping rather than plant features, with either dining or basking as favourites, reinforcing your statements above.

    The budget should get you what you want even if the more lavish side of it is beyond that outlay. You don't have to pave it all to get a courtyard feel, Italian or otherwise. You may have to plant more of it to keep costs down than you would envisage. Lawns obviously do little for your taste but they are higher maintenance than you would like anyway. There are plenty of low maintenance alternatives.

    Do you have a ground plan with measurements? Where are you (your profile says USA)? What is the orientation of the garden?

    So many ideas, but so little information to tell if they may be practical.
    minnie101 thanked Freshscaped Ltd
  • minnie101
    Thanks for all your responses. Yes, the garden does look a lot better tidied up and patio cleaned etc! I think the lawn is beyond repair. We just feel we could do a lot more with the design and something more in keeping with the house. I'm in the UK btw down south. The garden faces East with clay soil. Thanks for looking at my Ideabook, I don't think it paints a true picture! Our last garden was courtyard style with at least a 1/3 of it planted with olive, cypress, palms, lots of lavender etc which I love but that was South facing. I Don't actually mind a lawn. I'm really wanting something classically Georgian in style so a little ornate with maybe italian influences, lots of symmetry ,a water feature and then maybe some contemporary elements with an oriental influence like ceramic garden stools etc (although I appreciate that is actually in keeping with the period!). All of the designs I can find are obviously for enormous gardens, parks etc with lakes and pavilions and our garden is an awkward shape, plus I don't want it to be too grand for the size. Good news on budget! My husband doesn't mind pulling up all the bricks himself and selling them which will help. I'll get him to help me draw up a ground plan over the weekend. Thanks for all your comments.
  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd
    Pulling up all the bricks is a great start but don't sell them! Not yet at least. Brick should fit well into a Georgian design. The chances are you will need bricks for the construction of whatever design you come up with, even if they will be covered in another material. The rub is, buying new will cost a lot more than you can get for your old bricks so why not use those up first?

    The more you can recycle and the more you can do yourselves the further your budget will stretch towards what you would really like to do. So I make the same observation with the setts which make up the patio floors. A scrub with algaecide will have them looking as good as new.
  • minnie101
    Yes good point re bricks. My husband is very keen to do the prep work to keep costs down. I would help but I hate worms hence why I don't like gardening! I'll look for a good algaecide, the one we used before didn't do an awful lot.
  • embzop
    If you want a Georgian design, you will probably be looking for a formal garden. How about considering a central pond in a rectangular of geometric shape with paving or gravel surrounding it. You could have seating areas on either sides or at the end.
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    minnie101 thanked embzop
  • minnie101
    Thanks embzop for taking the time time to find all of these. I like elements of all but think the water features in pics 3 and 4 with the plants either side are fantastic.
  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd
    Those designs are possible for you minnie101, albeit with major adaptations to fit them into your garden. Just don't go totally destroying your patios yet! The floor layers if not the walls may come into good use after all!
  • minnie101
    Yes, it would need to be pared back to fit! I would also need to be creative with the back wall as it draws your eye to it. I had been thinking of a classical italian fountain (small version not grand!) but I do love the trough style with the symmetry of the plants either side. We won't be touching the patio yet!
  • pannacotta
    Your house is calling out for a formal garden but I cant tell from the photos if it would be possible to divide the garden in two sections with a path running through the middle?
  • minnie101
    Yes I agree. Unfortunately it is an odd shape so it really narrows on the left and slightly narrows on the right with the gate off on the right so the path through the middle wouldn't work. We didn't get time to draw up a plan so will try this weekend. Thanks!
  • silyab53
    I'm a lazy gardener so am about to have artificial grass laid. On researching this I've found COLOURED artificial grass and will have a small patio near the house in GREY. This fits in with my redbrick Victorian house exterior which has one band of grey brick, to tie it all together. Lots of other colours are available and the 'grass' is so well made these days, plus soft to sit on and easy to maintain, that I think its worth a google.
  • amw122
    Shock! Horror! artificial grass LOL. I can see places where it might work, maybe a small courtyard area but a real garden, especially a formal style garden needs real grass. IMO that is, However is all you want is to look at it from a distance.....
  • PRO
    Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer
    If you're struggling to come to terms with the idea of artificial turf or the cost of paving then think about using gravel BUT in a honeycomb system that will keep it tidy and in place. Plastic systems like NIDA will only add about 10% to the cost of what is a relatively cheap material and will give you that Italian look.

    It's also low maintenance which that pond won't be so maybe give the feeling of a light, open space using lavender instead of water - it's not flowering but see the attached photo for a bed of lavender that replaced a central low pond at Charlton House in SE London.
    minnie101 thanked Fisher Tomlin & Bowyer
  • minnie101
    I can see where artificial turf could be used but I'm not keen here. Yes, I'd already thought of combining gravel with stone to keep costs down. I'll have a look at that system thanks. We pulled up the gravel from under our last pergola and concreted and put it back on as 2 years of weeding kneeling on gravel was too much! I also love lavender beds but we have clay soil so I had to replenish it every year in my last house. Is it me or the soil? I definitely want a water feature of some sort though, cooling to look at in the summer and if it's a fountain then I like the trickling noise. Any ideas for that back wall? I also need to try and design it to make use of the sun. The patio across the back of the house is obviously common but not really useable. Thanks
  • boomania
    Maybe update the walling with Gabions (look up Gabion gardens for ideas). You can create anything from features, to walls, to seating areas etc and fill them with anything like empty wine bottles, old bricks, stones etc. this will add colour too.
  • minnie101

    Since posting I've decided on a garden design. My husband has since cleaned up some of the brick, round 2 is tomorrow, (and removed 2 short walls) and I have decided to reuse all of the brick in the design. Anyway, my dilemma is what colour to paint all of the render. The house will be painted next year, probably in a stone colour so it's more in keeping with the period, but I'm debating whether to go for a ŵall colour that will

    match the garden rather than house. I don't have a design to post as its a complete mismatch of designs and my ideas but lots of brick, formal layout and planting, fireplace, water feature etc. any thoughts welcome

  • pannacotta

    I have painted rendered walls in my garden a stone colour, I used a match of F Earth Ambergris but not sure that is still available. It is a bit like Charleston Grey. It is a fantastic background to plants and flowers and sets them off really well.

    Any ideas re planting or were you after some suggestions?

    How formal would you like it?

    Don't forget to use some scented plants. If the back wall is sunny then WIsteria would look fantastic.

    minnie101 thanked pannacotta
  • pannacotta

    Btw, not sure what your design will be but I suggest trying to create a planting area in the corner where your garden furniture is in your pics, to soften the angles of the corner and the building beyond.

    minnie101 thanked pannacotta
  • minnie101

    Thanks pannacotta, I'll look at that. The back wall will have a fireplace but not a typical exterior one..I'm going for a slim limestone one (think french country style) with mirrors either side and a climber along the top of the wall to hide that blue door behind and soften the mirrors. My husband thought it sounded awful until I eventually found a pic similar to what I wanted! The cream building is our garage so that can be painted to match. I have to be quite clever about planting on the whole left side as the wall angles so much. We also need privacy along that wall. The garden will be a formal courtyard with an italian influence which I hope will look georgian! Here's a general idea attached but with a number of changes! I'm useless on plants, haven't thought beyond box plants, cypress and lavender. I do want a number of evergreens as that's an issue with the garden at the moment. I'll keep the wisteria on the right which is about 40ft long at the moment as it needs a serious prune!

  • pannacotta

    The picture looks lovely.

    I would try and get some height in the planting in the left, some evergreen wall shrubs which can be pruned or climbers would be good if you have limited space. Trachelospermum is a good slow growing, evergreen climber with lovely scented flowers.

    Lavender hates clay soil so you might need to rethink that. Astrantia are lovely plants and work well with Box but aren't evergreen or you can add colour with bulbs, ie Tulips/Alliums.


    If you want to make it feel and look bigger then try to blur the boundaries, adding lots of evergreen planting as per your list will help lots.

    Lovely project.

  • minnie101

    Yes I definitely need height there and elsewhere and agree need to blur the boundaries. I'm trying to make it appear bigger with a keyhole shaped water feature in the "middle" and the use of mirrors and 5 sided beds to create pockets etc. Thanks for all the tips. I have suffered with lavender before, perhaps I do need to rethink as its costly to replace every year. I just love the look and smell though! I will need to think about adding some colour too. Would you plant bulbs within the beds then? ( I really know very little about the actual gardening aspect!) I also have some plants that could potentially be reused like a hydrangea and a few roses but just need to think where they could go. Yes, I'm looking forward to getting it done!

  • pannacotta

    I wouldn't bother with Lavender in clay soil but you could have it in large pots and use a gritty compost.

    Bulbs would go in last, in the borders yes, buy and plant them in autumn that is the best and cheapest way.

    Hydrangeas and roses are well suited to clay soil (as is the Astrantia I mentioned), all these are old, classic plants so would work in your scheme.

    Hydrangea Annabelle is gorgeous and looks fantastic in a classical garden.

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/550776229404502757/

    I am a gardener so happy to give advice, do feel free to pm me if you like.


  • silyab53

    Hi everyone - to clarify I wasn't suggesting the use of artificial grass here oh no merely saying what I was doing. As the years go on I can't cope well now hence this route. Having watched Chelsea I'm now drawn to splitting the garden with a wobbly linear area of wild flowers - my ECO statement.....

    I wonder if, in this case, and with such a good budget, you might pay attention to lighting. There's some amazing choices out there, from reasonably priced to outrageously expensive.

    Try Wayfair.com - fabulous.

    Continued good luck with your garden, can't wait to see the end result.

    B

  • Catherine Hounslow

    You could perhaps build a pergola over the path. Grow lots of beautiful wisteria clematis etc over it. It can create an attractive walkway or allow a private place for table and chairs.

    minnie101 thanked Catherine Hounslow
  • pannacotta

    ps where is your patio/seating area?

  • minnie101

    Hi pannacotta. There'll be 2 seats or small benches in front of the fireplace (afternoon sun) and either a dining table or sofa arrangement on the big patio that isn't really shown in the pics (sun until lunch). The garden isn't that great for sun even though the house is.

  • minnie101

    hi pannacota. Sorry I missed your detailed response yesterday and the email notification has only just come through! Thanks for the ideas and the offer of advice! I think I will try lavender in a pot as I love it. As you're a gardener can I please ask you an unrelated question? We were at a garden centre yesterday and they had bougainvillea which I absolutely love (got married on the Amalfi Coast where it is everywhere. One reason I chose the location plus the lemon trees!) Anyway I planted some in my last garden and it died a death very quickly. Do you have any tips for keeping it alive (or should I just not garden?!)

  • pannacotta

    Hi minnie, bougainvillea isn't frost hardy which is probably why it died, so you would need to buy and plant it annually or grow it in a large pot which you keep frost free in a shed/garage over winter. It does need a lot of sun to flower, do you have a sunny spot to plant it in?

    How lovely to get married somewhere so romantic....

    Don't give up on gardening, your garden will be fantastic!

  • minnie101

    Thanks pannacotta. I was going to put it in a large pot in the front which is South facing. I will try that and put it in the garage over winter. If not, maybe it is worth buying annually as it's not as dear as other plants. Yes it was a fantastic setting, no worrying about table arrangements with the sea views, flowers and lemon trees! I'm sure it will be fantastic once landscaped and planted and then I'll give it 6 months with my magic touch! The only things that flourished in my last garden were the cypress and just 1 Palm, I even killed all the clematis!

  • pannacotta

    Keep the faith minnie,,,, Clematis are temperamental and often die of wilt.
    And yes why not treat it as an annual climber, nice idea.

    Olive and Bay trees are tough and survive on neglect.

    Keep us posted....

    minnie101 thanked pannacotta
  • PRO
    Top Landscapes

    a good tidy up will give you a good chance of a blank cover.

  • Mike Bullock

    Have a look at Cotswold Stone Designs for different gardens. Just a thought. - Mike

  • PRO
    Haskett

    A tidy up and cutting back the bushes would be a good starting point. Pots could be added for interest giving the italian feel to the space.

  • minnie101

    Thanks all. I've since designed the space (and tidied up!) but project on hold atm whilst we fund something unexpected!

  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd

    This thread was started by minnie101 in March and her comments at the end of May indicated she may have been by then well advanced in the planning if not the implementation. Doesn't that make suggestions for clearing and early stage design the following January somewhat posthumous?

    Changing topic to a piece orf growing advice for minnie101: we are now in a new year with a new growing season coming up. Instead of buying new lavendar plants to replace those which are getting leggy annd unkempt, why not look up how to take cuttings from those you have and replace with newly grown, free plants of your own?

    This will not only work with lavendar but with a huge variety of herbacious plants as well as most shrubs andd, if you have the patience to wait for the results, trees. You need some cheap plastic plant pots and some compost. A trowel would be useful. But you could even use an old spoon from the kitchen and a few empty yoghurt, margarine or other empty, washed packaging tubs with a couple of holes punched in the bottom for drainage.

    Here's an offer for all you Houzzer folk. If enough people would like to learn how getting free plants from your own cuttings works, I shall write an article for you and post it with a few pictures or drawings for clarity, here on the Houzz site if I can find out where to put it!

    minnie101 thanked Freshscaped Ltd
  • minnie101

    Freshscaped, I can do with any gardening advice I can get! I'm sure it would be useful for a lot of people on Houzz. If you were to write something perhaps one of the houzz team could move it to the outdoor section under stories.

  • PRO
    Loving The Garden

    Hi, the basic structure of the garden, with the paths and walls is lovely. I would suggest thinking about low maintenance evergreen planting to give year round structure as well as introduction of perennials, bulbs & grasses for colour, scent & movement. Re leveling the terraces I suggest using similar materials as already in the garden, good luck.

    minnie101 thanked Loving The Garden
  • PRO
    Jill Blackwood Garden Design

    I offer help with garden design

  • PRO
    Marion Keogh Garden Design

    Your basic structure is really great! The garden looks very cosy and full of atmosphere already. It could do with a good clearout and replanting programme. Check out some of my images for

    Portfolio · More Info

    previous happy clients.

    minnie101 thanked Marion Keogh Garden Design
  • alanmorrison125

    Hi, looks like this picture was taken either in the early spring or winter, if so leave your garden for as long as possible, as many plants and bulbs will not have grown, so you may miss some hidden gems. plus it will give you time to really think about the garden. you will need to think also of the aspect where the sun rises and sets, and any sun traps. Consider getting rid of the brick walls as that will open up the space, I would also consider moving the bulkier plants and shrubs away from the immediate area around the house, but some time and a good clear up will let you see the potential.

  • PRO
    Ayegardening Ltd

    If we can be of any help then please let me know. http://www.ayegardening.co.uk

  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd

    Hi Susan and Aye, great to see you here. Thanks for the follow, I'll reciprocate when I find a few minutes. Just one small tip: Look at the OP date before wasting your time replying. This one is well over 2 years old. I suspect minnie101 decided which way to go a very long time ago. Alan Morrison's post came after more than one spring and summer to see what's there! :-)

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