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Hello there, just joined the forum!

I have a front lawn in front of the house with hedges on either side and in front - basically surrounding the house. it is so plain and dull - i need some inspiration! what on earth can i do with a plain lawn surrounded by nothing but hedges!?


Any suggestions would be appreciated!


Hi  Any pics would be helpful and if not more description re aspect, type of hedge, soil etc. Also how much work do you want to do? Hedge stays? Goes? Lawn stays goes? etc. 

You seem like a gardening expert - am just a beginner! i will send a picture through soon. My budget isn't very big - i didn't even consider letting the lawn go! It's an idea i guess but i wouldn't know where to start. I don't know what type of soil we have either.

Since you're an the back we have paving slabs...but weeds grow between them ALL the time - they all have gaps between them.(very narrow gaps). any suggestions for closing those off?




I had a lot of help on here for my front garden. You do, though, need to post a couple of pictures and give an idea of its uses, and direction


Hi inspiration. I always ask people what they don't like as that's often easier! So I'd suggest you make a little list of things like colours and styles and plants you hate so that you can rule them out. Also, the reason for asking about the aspect of the garden (the direction) is because it will determine what you can or can't grow. Same with the soil-  it's important to know so that plants grow sucessfully, although if you're not sure of that there will be plenty of help here. Lastly think about how much time you have to spend on maintaining it. Most people spend more time working in their back garden because it's usually the one they spend most time in, so you may want something simple but effective that will look neat and tidy all year round. 

Re the paving slabs- clean everything out from between them and brush in a dry mortar mix of 1 part cement to 2/3 parts sand and then sprinkle lightly with a watering can and it will set. If the ground's damp you can just brush it in and leave it and it will absorb the moisture from the surrounding soil and set that way. 


inspiration123 wrote (see)

Since you're an the back we have paving slabs...but weeds grow between them ALL the time - they all have gaps between them.(very narrow gaps). any suggestions for closing those off?

 What Fairygirl said lol.


Re the soil...Pictures of what you have growing in the back would give an idea and/or try this....wet a handful of soil til pliable. Feels gritty? soapy? sticky? Roll it into a sausage. If it falls apart high sand/grit  content. If it makes a sausage pretty good soil. If you can bend it right round into a ring high clay content. Any visible sign of chalk? Stones? 


Don't know why the writing is all blue and don't know how to change it!! 


addict - I could make lots of rings then...and a few pots for good measure! 

Great description of doing a soil test addict- not heard it put like that before!


You could take some photos, put them in a plastic sleeve, and then draw on it with marker pens to show what you want. If you don't like it, rub it out and start again.  Think of it as a blank canvas. Your only contstaint is the soil type  and size of your plot.

Fairygirl wrote (see)

addict - I could make lots of rings then...and a few pots for good measure! 

Great description of doing a soil test addict- not heard it put like that before!

Oh dear lots of clay then FG.  I can't take credit for it. The RHS taught us. It was great fun going round the grounds and making mud rings lol and then onto the litmus testing...didn't want to mention that yet. When you are a novice gardener too much information can put you off gardening for life lol.


My suggestion is ............. If you've not had a garden before, it's difficult to know what you like and what you don't , and what's possible and what will fit in with your life.  

I suggest that you spend some time looking around at other gardens, whether those in your neighbourhood or visiting Open Gardens, everything from the Yellow Book scheme to Stately Homes - try to decide the sort of effect you like - BEFORE you start digging things up, cutting things down and spending a lot of money which might be wasted.  And look at books and gardening magazines to find out how to get the effect you like in your garden.

Do your planning this summer and start your gardening in the winter/spring 

Wow - am stunned with the detailed responses here. Some really helpful feedback , thank you. See pic attached - it's atrocious! top left corner there are a pile of rocks (for some odd reason - i dont know what the previous owners had in mind) - with weeds growing out of them.

Fairy girl - yes I'd definitely want something simple that doesn't need a huge amount of maintenance. which soil are you talking about at the back addict?


Thanks everyone


Ok, first things first...

Find somewhere (front or back) where theres some soil you can get at, and that doesn't come from under a hedge or big shrub (which will have sucked up so much nutrient and water that it'll be powdery and won't give u a true picture. Then do the soil test as described. That'll tell you whether your soil tends to puddle & stay wet for ages, hold moisture nicely but not get boggy, or whether it drains so fast the plants havta sup up quick or miss it entirely. There are tonnes of plants for every type of soil, so u just need to work out what you've got and ur away.

The 'aspect' thing it just working out how much sun things will get in different parts of your garden. You can work this out with a compass, or just keep an eye out on a sunny day to see wots wot. You've prob got one mega sunny side, one thats pretty cool and shady most of the time, and 2 that are a bit of both. Deep shade in usually overhung by trees etc and looks dark like in thick woods. Light shade is out of direct sunshine but not actually overhung, so light levels are better. Partial shade in either shady more than half the time but sunny the rest, or that dapply light/shade u can get thru sparse trees. Partial sun is the reverse - like maybe 70% sunny, 30% shade. Full sun is when it really bakes. Again, different plants like or need different amounts of light, so once you know roughly what you have and where, u can choose stuff accordingly.

And pH. This is whether ur acid, neutral or alkaline. Some plants really care about this so u need to know. Easiest way is litmus paper (pinched from school) or a wee soil testing kit from garden centre. U only ever do it the once - once u know, u know.

And thats the basics. Wen u see a plant label it'll tell u - how much water in the soil, how much sun on its head and pH (if it has a strong preference).

So there u go. Maybe its worth finding a neighbour with a nice garden and asking them!!!


Thanks auntie couldn't have put it better myself  So Inspiration get sausage making! Take a look at your adjacent neighbours and see if theres anything you like. If they can grow it you can too.

Why is your hedge so much higher one side than the other? Is it different?  

oh goodness - right i will get on with the science experiment tonight - thanks for the tips. my neighbours have beautiful gardens. puts me to shame!

i dont really want plants etc at the front though - something low maintenance - maybe a design with gravel/stones?

Well the hedge on the left is shared with our neighbour who i think prefers to keep it high. The one in front and on the right is ours - they used to be just as high but we took them down because it felt v claustrophobic!








In that case why not just a small specimen tree in the middle?

Make a ring of gravel round it having underplanted it with bulbs perhaps. Not daffs cos they just look messy when finished but crocus would be nice and you don't have to do anything to them. You could have spring and autumn flowering ones to extend the interest.

Either go for a small tree that is amazing at one particular point in the year or one that gives you something to look at all year round. I planted a Cornus mas varieagata in a similiar sized space. It has blossom in the late winter early spring, beautiful white and green leaves follow that and in the autumn has cherry like red fruits. Only bare for 2/3 months of the year. The tree reaches about 15ft but takes an age to get there and maintenance? Zero.

Once you've done that you could get artistic with more gravel or pebbles or boulders...maybe some of those rocks in the corner...Some kind of ornamental feature perhaps, birdbath, sculpture, whatever. And always keep the hedge neat and trimmed...makes such a difference. 

Heres a few ideas to play around with...

Maybe no tree and just a bit of topiary. Scroll down to the one with the box balls...bit of maintenance but not much

Bit more edgey perhaps...

Use elements from this

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