Need help with my Garden

15 March, 2016
last modified: 15 March, 2016
My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

My existing Garden · More Info

Dear Houzzers, I need a help with my garden. After few months of building work, renovating, kitchen extension etc I completely run out of ideas as to what to do with the garden. Our budget is limited but we will try to do most of the work ourselves. Garden is North facing. I would like modern and simple look , low maintenance garden. On the left side of the house is a river , gate at the bottom of the garden leads to secluded meadow. I would like to do the most from the views and have patio from the left and front of the extension (bi folding doors). Should I use wood or tiles? Should I use astroturf in the rest of the garden or just big wooden planters?

Comments (46)

  • chunkysox

    What a lovely river to have by the side of you. I personally would take full advantage of this and take down the fence, maybe replace with a smaller fence or wall with railings if you have children. Just so that you can really bring the river into your space so to speak. Maybe turf or astro turf 3/4 of the garden but retain a patio area by your doors for bbqs etc = good luck x

  • monika11111

    Thank you

  • PRO
    SureSet Permeable Paving

    What a wonderful view you have.

    If you wanted something natural in appearance but easy to maintain perhaps a resin bound surfacing would be suitable.....?

    Good luck with your project, hopefully it's done for the summer.

  • Sarah McColm

    Fantastic space and what a idyllic spot for a house! If you have complete privacy in the direction of the river then I'd consider a cable fence like this one: to make full use of the views. The patio area seems to be in decent nick (though I'd consider giving it a pressure washing) and would look fine with lots of planters scattered round and some furniture on.

  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd

    What a lovely space indeed. Sarah McColm makes some good suggestions too. Exept that, if you have total privacy there, why bother with a fence at all? It can only spoil the natural ambience.

    Why, why, why, oh why do people today - and this is true since about the mid-sixties which is not so recent - do people wish to destroy the environment? Astroturf => no insect habitat, so no food on up the chain including for us. The same for resins, before them tarmac, concrete and all of their predecessors. The patio that is there already is, de facto, there already so a clean up minimises further environmental harm.

    Please, please, Houzzers, think before listening to such moneygrubbing sales pitches. Pitchers, please try to dream up something more eco-friendly to flog! Your "solutions" are short lived and environmentally extremely violent! What kind of life are you dumping on your own kids?

  • monika11111

    Thank you all for your comments. I will need a fence to keep it secure as we have kids. Thank you Sarah for your idea of cable fence. Looks great! I am only considering astroturf as I have North facing garden and I am worried that natural grass wouldn't last. It's quite a large area and I would like it to look greener but maybe I am just struggling to imagine how it would look with lots of pots with plants.

  • PRO
    TM Garden Design

    Have to agree with Freshscaped Ltd re the astro turf - and I do accept that in some situations it is ideal - football piches & roof terraces, but however good it looks from afar, up close it looks & feels fake, so please think about the real stuff - there are turfs / grass mixes that are suitable for shadier areas.

    With regard to the river running by the side of your house, it would be a shame to screen it off, a bit of borrowed landscape always makes your garden feel larger - maybe if security for the children is a must either keeping them in or others out, then maybe think about some railings along this boundary, either down to the ground or on top of a low wall.

    The Patio looks like in good conditions, so a clean and maybe a repoint then if using containers, go for fewer large ones - they need less watering and your can plant them up with a huge range of plants including trees, so bringing the country side into your garden.

    Lastly some lovely furniture, dining and lounging will all help to extend your house out into the garden.

    Good luck

  • monika11111

    Thank you TM Garden for your comments and advise. I agree that astro turf doesn't look that nice but I am worried that real grass just wouldn't grow as we have 3 large trees overhanging our garden. It's quite shady in the Summer ,except roof terrace above extension ,which we are planning to sort out as well within the next 3 months.

    Re:River I don't want to screen it off completely and we were quite happy living without proper fence since we moved in whilst building work was carrying on but we don't owe path next to the river so you do get odd dog walkers or children running around and I think I would like to have some privacy. We need to find some balanced solution.

  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd

    There are alternatives which will grow well in spite of the shade, monika1111. TM Garden Design has already mentioned new seed mixes for the purpose and grass technology is moving forward at a pace, albeit mostly driven by sporting and utility rather than domestic applications. But you can sow wild flower and grass mixes. Or even have a totally wild flower area which will be shade tolerant or shade loving. Each of these requires less maintenance than a lawn and the kids can play there. Choices of plants other than grass or wild flowers may also be suitable for covering that ground but not many would be suitable as play areas for children.

    You could also scatter some planters around there or, as permanent fixtures, build some raised beds, the sides of which may double as seats.

  • monika11111

    Thank you. I will definitely look into it.

  • PRO
    TM Garden Design

    Sounds like you have quite a project on your hands - its quite hard to describe all the factors affecting your garden, even with photos, you might be better off getting a local garden designer in to have a look at the garden in the flesh so to speak, some designers charge a refundable fee, some won't charge for the initial look see (I don't). They will then be able to see all the factors that could affect the garden and also chat to you about how you want to use it. It might save you from making mistakes in the long run.

    monika11111 thanked TM Garden Design
  • PRO
    Freshscaped Ltd

    Wise words indeed. I have several questions in my own mind which I would need answered before committing to anything other than very general responses here. Too much for a forum thread but at least you get something broader to give yourself some direction, monika1111.

    monika11111 thanked Freshscaped Ltd
  • kallydunn

    a raised deck at the same level of the inside of the house next to that lovely bi-fold door - so that inside/outside flows without a pause for steps (trip hazards)

    monika11111 thanked kallydunn
  • PRO
    Quatropi Limited

    Due to the odd shape of your garden I think when decoration it you should consider smaller items items such as this hanging chair for seating:

    monika11111 thanked Quatropi Limited
  • monika11111

    Thank you all for your advise. I decided that I will use gardener as I really don't think I can do it myself. I will also use real grass instead of astro turf.

  • drywsdad

    What about some glass balustrade to let the light in and maximise the view? Think about where the sun hits the garden and how you want to use the space will you need washing line space ? BBQ area? bin storage? entertain ? will you want to sun bathe or grow some veggies ? research plants you like and work out the vista from the room windows and what time of year will they flower ?

    Please come back and share progress pix

  • Kamila Williamson
    Monika, I love the view that you have! The suggestion of a cable fence is fantastic- it will provide a little more security, allow the view and keep children safe.
    I am not a gardener, maintaining full turf can be quite difficult (especially north facing side). I would add traditional borders with evergreens (easy and will grow well) and some trailing plants (ivy type) and flowers.
    Large planters could be used along the parameters (instead of destroying existing patio).
    Above all, why not invited two or three landscape gardeners from your area to give you suggestions? It's doesn't have to be expensive but would ensure you have exactly what you need? Take your time, don't rush with decisions.
    Good luck
    monika11111 thanked Kamila Williamson
  • PRO
    South Wales Garden Design

    I can agree with the pros above regarding turf. If it's meant to look organic then use organic, it does have it's place in certain situations such.

    As for the paving if the budget allows it has to go. It's not in keeping with the style of your new extension, it's tired and dated. Go for something more modern, Sawn sandstone, granite maybe or slate if you like dark colours.

    As for the environmental impact, the old paving will be crushed and recycled to make aggregates used for sub-base etc.

    monika11111 thanked South Wales Garden Design
  • Robert Champier-Clarke

    Re The Turf, Tall fescue grass is best for shady spots. We have used a turf called RTF with great success in shady areas. It is grown by lindum, you will be able to find a dealer through their website.

    monika11111 thanked Robert Champier-Clarke
  • PRO
    Caroline Crawford Garden Design

    I would definitely frame the view at the end with an arch and gate - such a key focal point at the end of your garden. Because of the odd shape I would think about creating zones to beak up the space and frame with planting. If the back of your house is north facing, think about creating the seating / dining areas further down the garden where there is more light. Avoid long narrow borders which will emphasise the long shape and make the garden feel narrower - think about blocks of planting to divide up the space and benches at key points to draw you into the garden. Good Luck!

    monika11111 thanked Caroline Crawford Garden Design
  • Claire Lofthouse
    I would lighten up all the fences with Cuprinol paint- a cream or stone colour with the far fence being a different colour (willow or sage colour?) to draw the eye down that way. A table and brightly coloured chairs, some pretty outside solar lights (search morrocan lights on Amazon)

    Put some rectangle planters along the sides of the wooden panels (can paint them to match!) and plant with easy to care for lavender which smells amazing and some chuck and grow seeds (I get mine from seedaholic). Maybe 2 large deep round planters at the end? And some hanging baskets say 3 each side which you can plant
    with herbs and trailing tomatoes-the kids can be involved in that!
    monika11111 thanked Claire Lofthouse
  • suea3
    Great view as others have said. Lots of plants will grow in the conditions you have and, with that big an area, some areas must catch more sunlight etc. than others!
    You could lift some of the slabs next to the fence and create planting holes. I have them and grow climbers, shrubs and small trees in them. You might have to have a fence but you can treat it as a vertical growing space. Ivies , including Virginia creeper for example, would give seasonal interest and food for wildlife and completely clothe the fence for much of the year. Just prepare the area well with suitable soil and make sure you water and feed them to establish them well.
    Finally consider cutting a small hole in the bottom of one fence panel. Then hopefully your garden can become a sanctuary for our lovely hedgehogs that are struggling to survive. Good luck!
    monika11111 thanked suea3
  • amw122

    I am delighted to see not everyone approves of hard landscaping and fake grass, we have beautiful planet why abuse it with destroying nature. You can sow meadow grass and wild flower seeds on areas you want minimum maintenance. Grass doesn't always grow too high under trees. It would make up for some of nature's territory you want to take away from it. Nature would then get all the beautiful bits for habitats and sustainance and humans get the hard landscaping (and we think that's an improvement on nature LOL) Plants in pots need looking after as well, I would rather see children playing on grass. I would also question the cable fence - it looks fab but where children are concerned, would it not be possible they could have some serious injury if bits of them got caught in it. Children have managed to get their heads caught in iron railings before?

    Just a thought though, is the river likely to flood, if it does then you would need a more substantial barrier.

  • monika11111

    Just to clarify I will still use astro turf but only on the terrace above extension. I will use turf on 3/4 of the garden (at the bottom), new tiles/bricks in the rest of the garden , maybe wooden patio by bi-folding doors. I am still not certain what I will do with the fence due to the budget and privacy concerns. I have 3 kids, youngest 6.5 years old. Do you know what is the cost of cable fence? As to the river I have been told by the neighbours that it hasn't flooded for the last 40 years.

  • amw122

    The cable fence doesn't look as if it would do anything for your privacy.

  • monika11111

    I know. I need to decide if I want privacy or the views. I think the views..

  • barbarainlondon

    Some lovely ideas here and the view is really lovely but there are two things that would force me to be conservative.

    1) Budget or rather lack thereof

    2) Small children and a fast-flowing river.

    North facing adds complexity. Security doesn't seem to be an issue as the current lower fence at the end is v v low :)

    I would look to some city gardens [weirdly for inspiration] as your garden is quite small. Your surroundings give it a lovely air of space though so you are v lucky.

    I would retain the fencing as it is new, functional and most importantly safe. Also your neighbour possibly owns the right hand side so you will be stuck with that. Paint it cream or a light grey perhaps? Some planters with evergreen jasmine underplanted with hardy plants will soften it up.

    If you can deal with being overlooked then it might be really nice to have a clear section near to the house so you can sit in your kitchen in the evening when it gets cold and watch the river go by, assuming you have sofa's or a table near to that end. It's also closer to the house if you have children likely to try to scale it to go and play pooh-sticks.

    Scrub up the hard paving, add wide steps from the house. Add some soft lighting to the garden which is far more expensive than you would think.

    This might give you some lovely inspiration for simple colours and how to use box and planters for a simple low maintenance look. By removing some slabs and adding topsoil and fertilizer you can insert ground level planting too.

    Finally, I would remove the circular section of paving and replace it with grass real or astro, your choice. It's handy with small children to have a soft surface for sitting on or to put a paddling pool on? The square corners around it could be planted with low growing herbs like thyme in gravel or bark, or box balls if you like formal. It also leaves hard area for scooting and cycling about in.

    Alternatively, I would create a low fence towards the back of the garden with a chip bark area for a playhouse or swings. So squaring off the garden with a little picket fence for kiddie stuff. Put some pub chalk boards up, a little playhouse or outdoor rocket "house" and you are sorted.

    As your kids grow up and your savings recover you can work with a landscaper to make full use of such a beautiful view.

    monika11111 thanked barbarainlondon
  • barbarainlondon

    You could use a sedum grass roof for the terrace

  • moorlikeit

    Please, please don't go for astroturf - I totally agree with freshscaped ltd on this. Children love wildlife and providing a haven for it is wonderfully educational. Plus natural looks best by a long way!

    With the northern aspect in mind I wonder if you have considered a moss and stone garden? This link might help you envisage it: It would give your garden an oriental feel and yet would be easy to maintain. It could be so simply done by just taking up a few areas of paving to plant the moss. It would also connect well with the woody, watery landscape beyond your garden.

    The other group of plants that thrive in shade are ferns and they can look fabulous. If you are after a bit of colour near the house, there are plenty of plants that would provide it and could live in pots. The giant Himalayan cowslip is great for moist shade and would provide some height and colour in spring, fitting the woodland setting marvellously but there are many, many more. Good luck!

    monika11111 thanked moorlikeit
  • Anita

    Monika, I'm glad you're still considering astroturf. I appreciate all the comments above, and agree that it's not environmentally friendly, but it can look good in the right setting and (importantly) if you don't buy cheap. Our son used it in his garden (typical urban plot, long and narrow - pic below of work in progress) and it looks great bordered with oak sleepers and dark slate stonework. Wide borders leave room for planting and allow for drainage. Not everyone has the time (or inclination) to maintain a garden and, where this is the case, astroturf can be a good option. I also like to think that our own garden (lawns, large borders, well planted) helps offset any negative environmental impact of this less nature-friendly plot. Best of luck with your project.

    PS: I love the earlier suggestion of a sedum roof on the flat-roof extension.

    monika11111 thanked Anita
  • moorlikeit

    Astroturf has its own issues apart from its artificial look and nature repellent qualities e.g. it is not self-sanitizing and needs cleaning. It also only lasts between 8-15 years and then it ends up in landfill. Landfill is a serious issue and I feel that we should all be concerned not to add to it beyond what is entirely necessary. Maybe we need more Houzz articles on reusing, recycling and being environmentally aware when we buy products...? On the other hand that may be why my home will not be featuring here any time soon - far too many odd, hand-me-down items working against a cohesive look!

  • tinagc

    I would suggest creating an 'L' shaped wrap-around deck on your extension, this would add interest with the use of different levels & materials. I would keep the patio paving area as is, just pressure wash & re-cement paving where needed. If possible, I would plant out the four corners of the circular paving area with either English or French lavender to add colour & fragrance (or use pots). Add large pots of bamboo's, acers, trees & ornamental grasses (Low maintenance planting suggestions - Silver birch, black bamboo, red & green foliage acers, stipa gigantea, bronze grass & blue festuca gauca grass). If you want flowers add pots of single colour delphiniums or similar. As for the fencing, it seems like there are 3 factors to consider, security (as it looks from your photo's there is public access to the river bank), Safety aspect (for your children) & privacy. I would suggest either using 3 to 4ft solid fencing with 2 to 3ft trellis above or go for a contemporary look and use horizontal slats, which you can easily make yourself. You can add more colour with fence paint. Hope this helps. Tina - Land Girl Garden Designs.

    monika11111 thanked tinagc
  • barrychromium
    I think there were some very good suggestions here. A wraparound deck around the corner of the extension would make most of the sunlight coming from the south and west. You could install a fence at the front of the house to hide the cars and give you privacy, and plant a shrub eg viburnum to hide the bins and bbq.

    The cable fence on the river side would be ideal (maybe paired with a low wall to feel more secure if the water rises). Keep the planting low on that side with spring bulbs (daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths, muscari...), woodland flowers (bluebells, anemones, hellebores), alchemillas and tiarella.

    I would remove all/most of the paving and have a raised bed along the right hand side with some flowering climbers (climbing hydrangea, clematis) and more shade-loving woodland plants such as ferns, hostas, euphorbia, astilbes, dicentra, heucheras... Definitely not lavender or delphiniums which need a lot of sunshine. A white hydrangea would brighten up the space. A painted wooden gate and a large specimen plant at the end (fatsia or acer) would draw the eye further. Bark would work well at the bottom of the triangle as suggested in previous post.

    You could experiment with a patch of rye/grass lawn in the middle. If the combination of young children and shade prove too taxing you would always have the option of extending the deck area... A "fake" lawn might not look quite right in this particular setting.

    Enjoy your riverside idyll and let us know how you get on!
    monika11111 thanked barrychromium
  • Caroline Miles
    Read the latest health warnings on Astro turf! Not a good idea and fully agree with the natural grass brigade comments.
    All the best to you and how lovely to have a river so close by...if you're interested in Feng Shui maybe get some advice from an expert in this field...water can be 'Auspicious'.
    monika11111 thanked Caroline Miles
  • alyper

    In the first instance would suggest doing little in terms of £ until you have used the garden for a full year and get the feel of it. Clear the existing terrace of debris and plant around the circle. Replace the fencing river side with a low picket style fence, but in a sharp modern style to suit your house, and paint it dark grey, and likewise paint the right hand side fence. A large planter with a climber and seasonal colour half way down rhs fence will create a visual break With a couple of benches, chairs and a table at the far end create an area to sit and entertain, or just to sit and admire your new extension and the view! Enjoy!

    monika11111 thanked alyper
  • PRO
    Pat Oliver Interior Design

    just had a designer advise me about some hardscape changes and she
    offered solutions that I had never considered. And I'm a designer!
    Sometimes we're just too close to the problem.

    You might want to think about having a garden designer come to your home for a couple of hours to discuss your needs and aspirations. It's well worth the fee. They will probably come up with some atypical ideas that best suit your family's needs and the site restrictions, which you can either take forward yourselves or have them draw up for you to follow (and alter) over a period of time.


    monika11111 thanked Pat Oliver Interior Design
  • frandixon

    Lots of good ideas here, but, if you do keep the paving or some of it, please please don't pressure wash it. There is a surface on all paving slabs which a pressure washer will remove making them much more susceptible to getting dirty and covered in algae in double quick time, an especial problem in a north facing garden. Some patio cleaner brushed on left for a bit and rinsed off is much better. All run off should be directed towards a drain not the river.

    monika11111 thanked frandixon
  • PRO
    Fig Garden Design

    I guess you could say that my advice would be the same as other 'designers', but I have to agree... I would suggest getting someone in to have to have a look at the site and advise you. It is a stunning spot and there is so much you could do with your garden to make the most of the aspect and views, but it is quite an awkward shape, and that leads to many potential pitfalls. Whether you choose someone who charges for the initial consultation or not, it will be well worth the time and cost....

    monika11111 thanked Fig Garden Design
  • alyper

    Garden designers are so worthwhile and terrific value for money! Plants and landscaping can be very expensive mistakes if not done properky/right place/right plant. Also any proper garden centre a great source of advice - they really do know about their plants and happy combinations. Make use of these professionals!!

    monika11111 thanked alyper
  • bombel1972

    first, what a great garden/location! hmmm......modern? low maintenance? i kinda like the flooring with the mini shrub growth in the photo with the girl jumping out of the pool. dark grey paint for the fence? built in seating with storage underneath? maybe there's something in one these photos that might catch your eye that you could use? also.... sorry for the many photos. part 1

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    monika11111 thanked bombel1972
  • Elliott Cook

    Want to tell us all about your garden and your ideas? We are casting for a new property show.

  • mrshste

    Bearing in mind that you have young children, the focus of the garden in my opinion should be on them. A small patio/dining/relaxing area for adults near the house, and perhaps also at the end of the garden would be lovely. I would also have most of the garden redone in grass (real grass!) with room to play. And I would keep the fence... its the most practical having children near a river, even if they're not babies anymore.

    I would probably break up the unusual shape of the garden with a few pots, planters and borders 'sticking' out into the garden so the eye is drawn away from the sharp, narrow end.

    I agree with what was said above though about just living with the space for a bit and seeing how you use it.

    monika11111 thanked mrshste
  • Elliott Cook

    Afternoon - we're working on a brand-new ITV property show that is going to showcase some of the UK's most inspiring and aspirational renovations! Check out the link below - drop us a line if you're interested. All the best, Elliott

    monika11111 thanked Elliott Cook
  • PRO
    Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design

    Artifical turf , even high quality is very odd to walk on which is to do with the weave. Walk one way and it can feel fine, walk another way and you can feel a shift under your feet connected to the direction of the woven artificial grass. I would advise if you do insert artificial you use it architecturally more in panels for a flat green plane as opposed to a typical lawn section. If used it works best in a modern space however in any space it can stick out like a sore thumb.

    There is data concerning chemicals/ plastics that are emerging that are not healthful. I would avoid professionally speaking.

    monika11111 thanked Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design
  • Jason johnson

    Hi Monika

    love the extension how much did it set you back?

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