Start a new thread

1 to 20 of 27 replies


Hi Everyone,

I'm a newbie, to this site and to gardening. Having just bought my first home, I'm getting pretty excited about decorating my most favourite room. Before I can get started though I've got a pretty big job to tackle and I wondered if any of you more experienced gardeners would be able to share their expertise, or even simply provide some suggestions...

The "garden":

A south east facing, oblong shaped postage stamp, a little too big to be a courtyard, but too small to bother with a lawn

Within this is growing (roughly 2-3 meters from the property) an approx 120-30yr old Beech tree - thankfully without a TPO.

The soil is very sandy and because of the large crown of the tree, nothing grows underneath - apart from some bluebells and violets.

The garden has never been tended to and so the leaves have been left to rot into the ground.

The garden is bordered by 6ft high lattice fencing on the south side - so placing a proportion of the garden in dappled shade, and on the other is 4ft high black painted lap fencing.

The situation:

The tree is going. Simple. I want a cottage garden that attracts wildlife. I also want a small patio area to be able to sit out in.

I would be very grateful for any answers/advice on the following:

How would I best prepare the sandy soil for new plants after years of feeding this tree?

What product would you recommend that is most moss/algae resistant for my path and patio as some of it will be in permanent shade from my neighbours fence?

Can any of you south east facing gardeners recommend any cottage garden flowers that cope with less sun? The garden centre just pointed me in the direction of a japonica ;-(

Finally, what lighter paint would you recommend to cover over previously stained black lap fencing?

Thanks so much in advance!












Welcome Sessi 

Can you take some photos of your garden and post them on here?  That will give us an idea of the possibilities 


To post a pic click on the green tree icon on the toolbar above where you type your post, and follow the instructions. 


You have a problem, a big problem. Apart from cutting it down, very expensive given the location and then the potential problems with the foundations. Were you given any advice before you bought the property? 

Photo essential as Dove has said.

Sounds a lot like my house. I have 6ft high fencing all around mine too and very shallow heavy soil. I get lots of moss on the lawn and algae on the Tarmac. This year I've used patio magic on the Tarmac. Expensive enough, but does the job. I planted two small apple trees, lovely blossoms, two lilac, two buddleia and some honeysuckle. All good for insects. In my borders I planted lavender, fuschia, osmanthus, and two climbing roses. 


Just some ideas for you. I moved into my garden last year. Big year of renovating the garden. Hope it helps, I too am a beginner but people were great for advice on here and still are. Pictures help as they say. 


me london

The soil you can improve by adding Biodegradable mulches, like compost, manure etc. The fact that the leaves from the tree were left to rot is quite good You can add fertilisers too once your plants are established to help them out in sandy soil.

Cuprinol paint is quite good for covering fences, and it should cover your dark fences ok. Be careful it doesn't seep through to the other side tho and annoy any new neighbours! The alternative to that is to put up your own fence in front of your existing fence then you can paint without worries.

And thinking of little cottage style flowers, well, there's daffodils for the Spring, lily of the valley, Jacob's Ladder, forget me nots, tho these flowers can take over quite quickly so need to keep an eye on them! Anemones, cyclamen, Viola, pansies and Cowslip Primrose to name a few! You can also google some shrubs that like low-light and come up with some gorgeous flowers!

Good luck with the tree and I hope you enjoy your new garden!


Yup, and lovely periwinkle and Californian lilac, which is a lovely blue flower.  some marigolds, geraniums, lupin and foxglove. All very old style and cottage garden like. Plant out some nasturtium seeds now and you will get a lovely covering over your fences for summer, and they're good for additions to salads too. Sweet peas are good little fence climbers too. 


I've tried to post a photo, but it seems to be coming up blank. ho hum. I've put it as my profile photo tho.

The flowers sound fabulous, thank you!!!

Will try cuprinol, thanks blighty man.

The tree surgeon is coming in a couple of weeks. Then I'll need a stump grinder. I've been advised to leave the roots in situ and just plant over it. Has anyone else done this? Did you discover any problems doing so?

Yes AWB I took advice. The tree was here before the building and as the soil is very sand I've been advised that there is very unlikely to be any damage to the property. Phew.




Hurrah the photo worked!


It will be very different when the tree is gone - do you know what I would do - I would try to find someone who would turn the trunk into a sculpture - you could have the most wonderful piece of original art there as part of your garden, to grow things around and over.  

if the bark is all removed the tree won't regrow.  

Artjak may have a contact, or contact your local art school and see if any sculpture students are looking for a woodcarving project.

What an opportunity !!!

wow that one big tree, and like you I would get rid, dig in pleanty of compost, organic matter into the soil, the tree has most probably taken all the life from any soil, you can always use pots to start of with, give the garden a year and then you will see where the sun comes in , look around other peoples gardens in the area and see what they are growing. Its all good fun and trial and error, keep a look out in the local garden centres for reduced plants, usually with a bit of tlc they come back to life .

Dove............what a  great idea.............shame to completely waste such a lovely hunk of wood ...........someone somewhere would love to take that project on..........just hope Sessi can find the right person

Hi, my mother had a tree like this (not quite the monster this one is) in her old garden and got talking to one of those fellows that do chainsaw sculptures in lay-bys ect. He came around and had a look they discussed a few ideas and he told her how much to have the lumberjack (tree surgeon) leave for him and she ended up with a lovely sculpture of an angel at a fraction of the price the tree guys wanted to charge to pull/dig up the roots and dispose of tons of tree. Also just so you know, when she sold the house she sold it on the back of this sculpture, the buyers just loved it. I've also seen one carved into a seat and a there's a pub near Bexhill that turned one into a 'modern art' kinda thing.

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the replies. This photo doesn't do the size of the tree any justice. It actually sits approx 15ft above the building, the trunk is approx a metre across and several roots spill out all over the garden creating fabby little trip hazards. The position of it in the garden is also quite awkward, although Edd I LOVE the tree may just have to go out into the garden and do some  measuring and see if I can  incorporate something like this into a garden and still keep my idea of a patio and borders. Getting all excited now!!!


What a fabulous project - I'm getting all excited too!!!  Keep us informed - with pictures 


Brilliant Sessi 

 I think I'd be concerned about trying to remove the roots anyway. They'll be huge. Keeping some of it and turning it into a sculpture is a great idea - and what a talking point!

You'll not need much extra planting - everyone will be captivated by your Hobbit house/sculpture!  



So above is my rather large, beautiful tree in my rather small garden. The tree surgeons are coming in a couple of weeks, but now I'm wondering if they should....not because I love the tree - it has to go, but could anyone tell me the likelihood of any birds nesting in there? I hear birds all the time, but haven't seen any activity and the gardens at the back of these flats are not with brimming with life for them to feed on. I have to say most are slabbed over,  although there is a park at the end of the street and a canal around the corner. For the wildlife enthusiasts amongst us would you wait until later in the season to chop it down or just get on with it? Thanks.

You won't find any bird nesting in that Sessi, it's the wrong environment for them, they'll sing from the branches and feed on any insects there are, but not a nesting site. So get it down. Ask the tree surgeons for some logs from it for a wildlife wood pile. And if they will maybe some disks cut from the trunk for some wood stepping stones. If you don't use them add them to the wildlife wood pile. Them comes the good part!


Thanks Dave Morgan - thought as much, but needed to be sure. The stepping stones sound like a fabulous idea!!!

star gaze lily

Could you cut the trunk down to the right height and use it as a 'pedastal base' for a table, and get some sort of 'table top'