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09/06/2013 at 22:28
Hello everyone I really need some help and advice with creating my daughter's garden. She has lived there for 10 months and in that time I have managed to build up a small stock of plants from cuttings, division, seeds & supermarkets etc and I was so looking forward to the challenge but after spending the weekend looking at and walking around the garden in all honesty the whole thing terrifies me! I realise it's going to take time and I think the best way to tackle it is bit by bit but I don't know which bit to tackle first.

Anyway here goes... these are some of the main things I need to consider

My daughter is physically disabled and a wheelchair user

It is a new build property which is currently just lawn.

The garden is very uneven and has quite a sleep slope to one side

We don't have a huge budget

It has to be low maintenance

I'm not able to do anything major without express permission from the landlord

It's South facing

NB Grrrrrrrrr I've just spent the past 40mins trying to figure out how to post some photos but I can't post them for some reason! Anyone got any ideas why?
09/06/2013 at 22:32

my advice for the slopes would be to buy some native primroses...they are cheap from seed, you can find many on ebay...also ferns are good on slopes.

not sure why photos arn't uploading atm,...

09/06/2013 at 22:49

If you have some flat areas, then raised beds would be accessible for your daughter from her chair, and you would be able to plant them one by one instead of looking at the whole project with despair!  Lawn obviously isn't easily negotiable by wheelchair and It might be worth looking into grants to help with paved access construction, there is an organisation called something like 'gardening for the disabled' which might be able to advise; or maybe the local council might be able to assist?  Also if you have a local Dobbies gardening centre, they have an initiative to help with design advice and practical assistance for disabled gardeners, but I don't know how you go about applying for it.  I will happily post you some wild flower seeds if you want to scatter them on the slope to make it look more attractive, and I'm sure a lot of other users of this site would too.

09/06/2013 at 23:11

Yes I did it! A slight adjustment to my setting and hey presto 

Thank you Juniper81 & Sara 4 for your suggestions so far. At least now with these photos it gives you a better idea what I'm up against

This 1st photo was taken from the patio area looking down towards the bottom of the garden and is also the view Sarah has from her lounge. I think I'd like to start with this area as it is what she looks out on most of the time.

This photo was taken looking to the right of the patio across the garden


09/06/2013 at 23:18

A few pots of pretty things would brighten it up straight away and maybe some climbers on the fence?

10/06/2013 at 08:24

I think you need some overall plan, even if you attempt it one stage at a time.   If you don't have such a plan, you mgiht wish you had put things in different places half way through completion.    I did a complete redesign of my garden, by drawing it out on graph paper.   I made a list of all the things that I wanted in the garden, such as patio, water butts, compost bin area, etc.    Will your daughter want a shed to hold her tools and lawnmower, for example?    How big will it need to be?    If she has a wheelchair, how wide will her paths need to be, and she will need access to all areas.     Will she want raised beds?     List out all her needs, and then play around with the plan, making everything accessible for her.

There are gardens open to the public that cater for disabled people, so maybe you both could visit one to poach ideas? 

Good luck.   Let us all know how you get on. 

10/06/2013 at 20:16

whats you location?

10/06/2013 at 20:20

I,d start with some plants in pots to brighten up the patio area as it is the first area your daughter sees,Maybe a couple of lavenders,as they don,t need much water,but the perfume would be lovely,geraniums would also give an immediate effect.

10/06/2013 at 20:23

You say it is a new build.

what I would do first before anything is done is check to make sure the garden does not have tons of rubble buried under the grass.

I moved into a new build two years and had to remove tons of rubble.


10/06/2013 at 20:30

Lots and lots of potential and opportunities. You know what the answer is to the question"How do you eat an elephant?" Well you do it a bit at a time. Have a long term plan in mind but start with the patio area and gradually work outwards, a section at a time, or perhaps a section each successive year. This will give you something to plan during the winter and then your project for that year is in place. You probably need a bit of help with the labouring/construction and a good friend should come to mind? Paths and raised beds must be in your long term plan, and be bold, everything is possible. Altho' I am fully abled, my new garden, 14 years ago, was very daunting and money was not plentiful. However it now looks great and gives me bags of pleasure.

10/06/2013 at 20:36

Is there anyone in your family who can do carpentry? My neighbour has just built his wife who has disabilities 3 or 4 small raised beds (like high coffee tables, with a soil depth of 25cm or so) so his wife can plant and weed stuff. Your daughter could grow salad veg or flowers in them. He used pressure treated timber so that it won't rot for a while (always use a face mask when cutting this stuff because of the chemicals it is impregnated with)

10/06/2013 at 20:54


the whole idea of yours is lovely.  as said before do this bit by bit.  you dont have to spend too much.  the wheelchair will negotiate that lawn.

i would plant some lavenders...a nice row of them.  buy a few now...maybe 5....and take cuttings.  they will root by the summers end and you will have loads more to plant out.

plant a rosemary too.  maybe an artemisia like powys castle which is silvery grey, tactile and scented and a couple of scented shrubs.  a choisya is beautifully scented right now.  and a Daphne for late wi nter scent.

just plant a few things now, get some annuals for the summer, and plant things as you get to know the garden.  i would put in a honeysuckle on one of the fences and a buddleia for the butterflies and bees too.

theres a whole bunch of people here who would like to help you on the way all of us with different ideas.  just pick what suits you.

try to enjoy the creation of a lovely garden for your daughter without the stress of worrying about it being done in 5 minutes.  when I first started gardening it was the first shrub I planted that attracted me not the area of the garden that still needed to be done.  your daughter will love the first plantings...maybe both of you can visit a garden centre and touch and see some of the scented plants there.

you will be amazed at how quickly plants will grow right now

10/06/2013 at 21:11

I think I'd ask your daughter what she wants to do in her garden - does she want a BBQ area?  Would she like to sit in the shade under a tree?  Would she like a pool with fish to watch, or a moving water feature and the sound of running water, or would she like to feed the birds?  etc etc Maybe give her some old GW magazines or gardening books to look at  to spark some  ideas.

The answers to those questions will give you some ideas of the areas you need to create - then you can start prioritising and planning - where will you put the water feature?  Where will the tree go?  Look at where the sun shines and where the shadows fall.  

Well, that's a start ................................... 

Good luck 

10/06/2013 at 21:17

Hi tattiana. Lots of good people on here who can offer help as Verdun said. Raised beds are a great idea but make sure they're high enough- they're often made a bit too low. A bit at a time is definitely the best way -frustrating at times!- and you're doing the right thing wanting to do the bit nearest the house first. 

Can I make a suggestion. You've already made a start with cutting and seeds etc. and you have a tight budget. Is there any way members here could donate surplus seeds, cuttings or plants? I know you may not want to reveal your address on here but some members already use a seed swap so someone will know how to do it- or perhaps you can just trust us!  Most people here have gardened on a budget at some time and plants are expensive. There may also be members near enough to you who could help arranging extra hands to help with the heavier stuff involved.

Any thoughts anyone?

10/06/2013 at 21:20

Probably is all thin turf over all the rubble left over from construction. Standard practice in the building trade, that.

By the angles of shadows, I'm guessing the left side in the first picture is the north side, meaning that fence gets a lot of sun. Good spot for Choisya.

I'd agree with "bit by bit" but plan your bits so you don't find one in the way of another (never plant the bulbs before you've finished trimming the hedge behind them, for example) and in general I'd say start at one side and work your way across or start big and fill in the small stuff later. It's a lot easier to change your mind about the Asiatic lily than it is to change your mind about the apple tree, right?

Wheelchair on lawn ... depends on the wheelchair and the weather. Soggy lawns wouldn't be much fun. A loop of path may be a good addition. Space out the strongly-scented ones along it, so you and she can enjoy the different fragrances on the way round.

Check the estate rules before planting anything "heeyauge" because there may be some sort of tenants' agreement that covers owner-occupiers too and prohibits ... trees over 20ft, or whatever.

If Sarah's into birds, provision for birds should be a feature. They get "friendly" (made bold by desperation, more like, in some cases) when they're feeding the young. For the birds' sakes, it's best to put the feeders seven feet up, surrounded by dense thorn bushes, with no clear route for a hawk and nowhere a cat can climb up and jump across ... but that's not much good for someone in a wheelchair on the patio who wants to watch them and can't reach to refill the feeders. A feeder pole, out of pounce range of the fence, could be good. With a simple tool (L-shaped stick) the feeders could be lifted down for filling and lifted back up when full, and that would bring birds to the edge of the patio. It's a bit hawk-friendly, though. You'd want something big and thick (no, not the Colour Sergeant, a tree) close behind it to give them somewhere to hide. Hawthorn's fairly good at becoming cover, but not really friendly. An elder tree might do well, if you prune it hard. I cut one right back to a bare trunk here in autumn, and it regrew so quickly I had to prune it in June to stop the green branches breaking off under their own weight and again in November, and now it's a dense bush on a pole, which should become great bird cover next year after one more pruning this October or November.

10/06/2013 at 21:28
Dovefromabove wrote (see)

I think I'd ask your daughter what she wants to do in her garden


Good idea!


Fairygirl wrote (see)

Is there any way members here could donate surplus seeds, cuttings or plants? There may also be members near enough to you who could help arranging extra hands to help with the heavier stuff involved.

Any thoughts anyone?

Good ideas too. I'm not sure what I can get from my father's larger garden. Maybe a bit of his Choisya! He's got my winter-flowering honeysuckles because they're shrubs not climbers and I've got a little one grown from a cutting taken when I was digging them out from under the trellis because they're shrubs not climbers. I presume I could get another one from them. I've got winter jasmine, red-flowered summer jasmine, purple-flowered akebia, white-flowered akebia and three twining honeysuckles (white-yellow-orange, orange and white-and-purple flowers) that I should be able to layer, and some apple and pear trees growing from pips just for the laugh with no homes yet identified.

I'm "somewhere in England" ... near York.

10/06/2013 at 23:08

Just to add to all the good advise and if you want a garden which is four seasons, consider evergreens which bring colour during winter months, there's nothing nicer if you wrap up warm than to sit on the patio on a crisp, sunny winter's day.

11/06/2013 at 07:51

WOW! thank you all so very much for your advice and suggestions and I'm absolutely bowled over with your offers of help and support. I'm going to print all this off and hi-light suggestions of what to do first and keep it handy for reference.


We are totally aware this will be a long term project and the garden will evolve over time and that it's going to be flipping hard work! We're also aware that being a new build we WILL find lots and lots of rubbish and rubble that will hinder our progress and that we're going to have to enlist the help of family and friends to achieve the most wonderful garden possible for Sarah.


 All that said  I think  it would help further if I give you an insight into what what we need from the garden. So here goes....


Sarah's disability is such that she is unable to do anything in the garden nor is she able to give much input into it's design and what plants are in there so what she can see and smell is of the greatest importance as is the ease of maintainence. (we really don't mind maintaining the garden but when we visit we want to be spending quality time with her and not always gardening). Also we can't rely on her carers to be watering pots and deadheading plants. At the moment the paving is just around the parimeter of the house and the lawn isn't accessable for her wheelchair so it would be an idea to replace some of the lawn with paving to enable her to get nearer the plants.


As I said I've already made a start on collecting plants. So far I've got 3 lovely fatsias, about an dozen lavender plants (and taken more cuttings at the weekend), geum, delphenium, more lillies than I know what to do with and dianthus. Gosh that doesn't sound a lot considering what we have to fill   .  I'm sure I've got more plants I just can't think of them at the moment! All suggestions for other fragrant plants will be grately appreciated!


I do like the idea of a tree (depending on the size perhaps a couple of trees???) but I do remember when Sarah moved in the landlord said that as the site was built on a former landfill site there is a membrain  covering this so we can't plant anything that is likely to send roots that could potentially penetrate the membrain. Saying that the landlord has planted trees in the front gardens of the properties so the membrain can't be that shallow????  


Oh dear I'm rambling on a bit now so I'll leave it there and spend some time getting some of your ideas down on paper and I'll keep you all posted on my progress. In the meantime thank you all again and keep the suggestions coming 


11/06/2013 at 07:58

Difficult Sarah- presumably the membrane is quite deep down then and there's adequate soil on top of it? Perhaps you'd need to dig down in a couple of places to see what's there.

Until I looked back at your original post I hadn't noted that you mention a landlord - is he/she happy to let you plant up the area? That may limit what you do as well.

11/06/2013 at 08:09

morning tatiana

youve captured our imagination and thoughts.  scented pelagoniums....scented lemon, orange, mint pots, lemon citriodora fantastic lemon smell, salvia elegans is the pineapple sage and has the most intense pineapple scent to the leaves.  I grow these in pots where people walk and brush past the foliage. grow heliotrope in pots too.....grow from seed and cuttings and the scent is of cherry pie and wafts around the garden.  put in some regale lilies.....again during june and july they heavily scent a garden.  scent, scent and more scent I think.  And there are shrubs for scent during the winter too.  i can see a truly wonderful sensory garden there and what a labour of love too

keep us posted tatiana

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