London (change)
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11/06/2013 at 19:46

I would also love to her out if I knew where she lives,I live in sunderland and if tatiana lives nearer me I would also help out.

free plants off garden centres would be one of the first things I would do,but this would depend on the location.

12/06/2013 at 07:11

Morning everyone

Firstly can I say thanks again for all your offers of help and suggestions and we live in St Helens, Merseyside if anyone wants to grab a spade 

So I've had a good think about this and believe the way to start is to contact the landlord to see what we are allowed to do and find out about that membrain & how deep it is. The property belongs to a social housing association and, after speaking to some neighbours, apparently they're not too helpful with what they allow you to do which is why I want to get them on side before I do anything. Oh my word you'd think it was acres & acres we are trying to landscape here!

I agree, Charlie November, the fence down the left would look lovely covered in climbers and yes the less lawn the better!  I also like Verdun & fairygirl's idea of lots of grasses too which it just so happens I've got quite a few of after potting up lots of off shoots (or what ever they're called) from my carex buchananii earlier this year so that's a start on the grasses. I'm sure Sarah would also enjoy watching the birds feed so that's another thing I'm eager to include. 

Once I know what we can & can't do I'll concentrate on the left side of the garden as that's what Sarah can see from the house. 

So there you have it...I've made a start albeit in my head but at least it's all a little clearer now and I don't feel quite as scared as I did at the weekend  


12/06/2013 at 08:05

Hi, I work with severely disabled young people, so planning for them is part of what I do - although Sarah won't be able to 'do' anything physically in her garden, she will be able to listen and hear things and watch things as well as experience scents and the breeze on her skin.  Dancing shadows made by sunshine through foliage can fascinate, as can the sound of trickling or bubbling water, the breeze rustling in foliage etc.  

Whoops, time I was going to work - there are lots of places to get ideas for Sarah's garden so that you can really focus it on her needs, rather than adapting gardens made for the more physically able.

If there's anything I can do let me know 

12/06/2013 at 08:09

Brilliant Dove thank you 

12/06/2013 at 08:13

Re  the grasses - 'block' beds of differing heights with  grasses can make a nice alternative to big areas of 'lawn' grass too. Easier to maintain and give movement and  impact. Visually perhaps too as they are a strong shape?

12/06/2013 at 08:43

i think dove is right about water too.  the soundand movement of it...even if just a small fountain somewhere....adds so much to animate the garden

tattianna, hope you get the garden you want

13/06/2013 at 18:11

Try 3, 5 or 7 Christmas box,  if,  it's sheltered near the front door or near a seated area. Plant in autumn and enjoy the fragrance late winter. 

14/06/2013 at 20:35

Tattianna, Do you have a gardening club locally? if so it may be worth contacting them to see if they could help with plants or labour. I think a few planted pots would take away the bareness while you plan your design. Good luck

28/07/2013 at 09:17

Hi All

Thanks you for your advice so far. Not much has been happening but thought I would give you an update...

We've finally heard from the landlord re what we can do and we've decided to start with extending the patio area then concentrate on the area in direct view from the window in the lounge and take it from there.

I'm building up quite a collection of plants via cuttings and from friends and family gardens (I'm too shy to approach garden centres etc for plants for free ) but have picked up some real gems from the bargain basement corners at the garden centres. So at the moment I'm feeling more enthusiastic about creating a lovely low maintanence garden.

What I would like to ask is...we thought it would be an idea to plant the area up then put down weed supressing cloth and cover it with bark to keep the weeds at bay. I know shurbs and such will be ok with this but will anything that dies down cope with this? Will it be able to grow back up thought the cloth and bark?

Thanking you all in anticipation

28/07/2013 at 09:28

Hi Tattiana - glad you're making progress with your project. You'd need to make holes in the membrane for perennials or bulbs as they won't be able to grow through it. Normally you put it down first,make a cross of 2 slits where you want the plant, fold it back and put the plant in. However, if the plants are already in you can fit the membrane round them. I've done it both ways. It's a bit fiddly but I find it fiddly doing it the first way anyway! It'll certainly  save you time and effort with weeding. Anything seeding in from above is easier to get out and you can top it up each year - the thicker the mulch the better. Just remember to water everythng in well before covering it.The other thing you can do is add some nice pots of seasonal colour and sit them in a group on the bark  especially during winter when perennials have died back. Mark where plants are with a stone or something so that you don't put anything on top of them by accident!

28/07/2013 at 18:12

tattianna, could you post a photo taken from an upstairs window so we can see the whole garden in one shot?

28/07/2013 at 19:14

Weed suppressing membrane has disadvantages.  It's very difficult to move plants that are in the wrong place for a start.  It creates a very sterile soil environment too....what are the birds going to "peck" on, how will those "nasties" in the soil be controlled, etc.  if you want to plant bulbs it's not quite so easy.  For experienced gardeners who are sure what plants they want and know they are in the right place, then ok, put down a membrane.  But, not for me.

Better to plant out and use organic living mulches.  You can change your mind and move plants around, you can tinker with your soil, add fertiliser, plant where you like, enjoy seeing the birds feeding in your soil, etc., etc.,

These membranes are the decking of yesteryear.  They add nothing. They will still have weeds growing albeit annual ones usually.  Dont use them of you want a garden border....ok for a path but that's all

28/07/2013 at 19:37

Verd- at the risk of disagreeing with you and getting detention ()  I don't really like membrane either for the reasons you state, but Tattiana has limited time to spend looking after the plot for her daughter which is why I think it's useful for her in the circumstances.

If you shout at me I'll have to turn you into a frog again.....

28/07/2013 at 21:19

Oh,,alrighty then.   

(but I think.....whisper,,whisper.....she will save money and time if she DOESN'T use membrane.  Sorry I know I'm right on this one)

28/07/2013 at 21:23

Ok...I'll grudgingly concede! 

Still might turn you into a frog though......

But....... I still think it would be easier.......heh heh 

28/07/2013 at 21:57

Noooooooooooo please dont.  Not again.  Anyway, we Cornish have our own magic down here

29/07/2013 at 19:54

Hi all & thank you again for your help.

LeadFarmer it's a bungalow but I'll see if I can take some better pictures and get as much of the garden in as possible.

Fairygirl & Verdun I take on board what you're saying and to be honest I never gave the birds etc a thought. As Fairygirl says I was just thinking low maintenance and supressing as many weeds as possible as I don't want to be gardening every time we visit. 


30/07/2013 at 01:03

I would turn a section of the lawn into meadow with wildflowers and attract bees, butterflies, other insects and birds.  As you only then "mow" once per year it is really low maintenance. 

Chamomile can be planted along the edges of paths.  It smells wonderful when crushed by people walking or rolling over it.  

Quaking grass (not sure if anyone's mentioned it) would "rattle"  in the wind

30/07/2013 at 09:18

Morning tattianna

I just think you are committed to a garden style you may regret by laying down a membrane.  It's not a solution to weeds.....annual weeds will love that environment anyway....and certainly brings it's own problems. 

I have removed membrane from friend's garden and a neighbour is currently trying to get rid of it.  The previous owner thought it great to cover her whole front garden with it so now it's a logistical problem moving gravel ...and what to do with it....and disposing of lots of that (awful) membane. Once removed her garden will come alive again!

Just give it bit more thought tattianna

07/08/2013 at 09:40

Morning all

I mentioned in an earlier post that the property is built on a former landfill site and there is a membrane in place separating the contaminated land from the cleaned land and because of this membrane we're not allowed to dig any deeper than 600mm. Now I don't think anything we plant will need a hole so deep but what about the roots as the plants become established????

Could this throw a spanner in the works and stop us creating a lovely outside space for Sarah to enjoy? That said there are trees planted in the front gardens and areas planted up with shrubs etc! I really don't envy the task of trying to find out how deep the roots will go before deciding what plants to plant 

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