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my garden needs a complete overhall but i have no money to do it. i want to make it safe for my 2 & 4 year old daughter to be able to play in and nice for my wife and i to relax in on an evening. i started working out a plan of a raised level garden about 3 years ago with my father, who passed away last year, but due to ideas eclipsing talant i have run out of steam and come to a halt. i really need help on how and where to start otherwise my girls will grow up without a garden. HELP PLEASE.
I too am in a similar situation, and started a thread asking for help.
First of all it looks like your garden needs a huge tidy up (as did mine) and all the space cleared so we can see just how much you have to work with, in order to help/offer ideas.
Do you plan to grow anything, ie Flowers/Veg or are you not fussed?
My first thoughts at looking at your pictures was to lift all the slabs at the bottom area and grass it all over, leaving the higher level for any planting, or a relaxing area for you and your wife, using the slabs that were lifted, maybe adding a nice patio set. (ebay is great for bargains).
Maybe once you've cleared the are and posted more pics, more ideas will come in. It will all take time, as I've learnt, but it will be worth it.
I agree with Insomnia1973.
You really do need to sort out what you want to keep by the way of plants, garden pots etc, what you can get rid of take to the tip,recycle, tidy up and then you will be able to see the wood for the trees
Once you have cleared up it will spur you on to do the job, involve the children they all like to think they are helping.
Do you have any good friends who could lend you a hand? Have a Garden Party, any neighbours who have gardens might give you a few plants to get you going.
Don't be put off, all gardens take time and quite a bit of elbow grease.
As Insomnia1973 says, get rid of the rubbish and come back, there are lots of gardeners ready to help with advise on the forum.
Best of luck, keep smiling and you'll get there.
Hi Andy, my approach would be to break the garden up in to different areas in your head or on a piece of paper in to small manageable areas, taking the 'bit here, bit there' approach can often make people feel defeated quickly. When you have divided your garden up just deal with the one patch at a time, setting goals of what you want to do there based on what you can physically get done in one day. Take photos, lots of them, and when you feel fed up and that you're not getting anything done (as we all do sometimes) look through them and surprise yourself with how much you've done.
This time of year and well in to Autumn is best for digging over the soil and preparing your beds for either veggies or where you want plants in spring, get the little ones involved and think of what jobs they can be getting on with whilst you're doing the physical things that they can't.
The best advice I can give is to stop thinking of the garden as a whole thing, gardening is one little victory at a time and can't be rushed anyway. As soon as I realised this I started enjoying gardening and being outside even more.
I hope that helps, best of luck and hopefully you'll keep us updated with some of those photos.
I also agree with the tidy up first, sort out what you want and what you do not want to keep, what you dont want take to the tip dont leave lying around,do a bit at a time will not seem such a massive task then, as you know the kids will love to help. Your daughter wants to put bulbs in, well Sept and Oct is a good time to plant bulbs, easy, give your raised border a dig over and just put your bulbs in, next spring you could get some cottage garden seeds, sprinkle over your bed and they pretty much look after themselves, good luck.
Like any domestic project it's all in the preparation. If you want a newly decorated room to look good the first thing you do is clear all the crud you don't need or want and put all the stuff you do want in a safe place (or cover it) and then tackle the cleaning and preparation of surfaces for painting, papering; flooring etc.
Sorting out a garden is the same. Clear the rubbish, tidy up what's left and see what you want to save or recycle. Small people are generally safer on a soft surface such as grass so I'd agree with the sugegstion of making a lawn at the bottom level unless those slabs are laid on thick concrete or drianage is poor and a lawn would just become a muddy bog.
Then decide what features you want and also how much time a week you have to devote to garden maintenance ( horticultural equivalent of dusting and vaccing) and then choose to add features accordingly - flower beds, herbs, veggies, shrubs, a seating area, a dining area and so on. I'd do something about that timber wall first though as it doesn't look strong enough to last and a collapse would be disastrous for anything you do in the future, on either level.
As for budget, you can do it very cheaply growing a lawn from seed in either September or next April/May. You can also grow flowers from seed next spring and ask friends, family and neighbours for cuttings and divisions of plants you like. Whatever you plant though, soil preparation is key to success so remove rubble and rubbish and add some home made compost which you can get for free by making a heap now and recycling raw fruit and veg peelings and scraps from your kitchen along with paper, cardboard and so on.
Doing things in small bites is good advice. Select one goal or project at at a time and see it through so you can feel proud of yourself and encouraged by the progress rather than looking at it all as one mammoth and overwhelming task.
Come back when you have questions too as there's plenty of people here who can advise and suppost.
Thanks for all the advice guys. i'm starting next week when my wife and kids go on holiday so hopefully have something to show soon. any more advice would be greatly appreciated.
obelix - what would you recommend as a supporting wall that will look good but be cheap. i have been told that breeze blocks would be best for support and then covered with wooden boards - kind of like what is already there but with the breeze blocks holding everything up and the wood to hide it.
the garden is really quite small. it's about 17 meters across the paved bit and about 10 to 12 meters to the back fence. its on the north side of the house so what would be a good selection of plants?
the paving is just laid on the soil so isn't a problem to take up. just put it down so the kids didn't track mud into the house. it was a short term measure while i sorted other bits out.
Andyhux- firstly your garden has loads of potential. Plenty of hard land scaping for paths and patio, and a defined fence.
I agree with everything which has been said and would add, whilst you are doing the tasks suggested think ahead to next year- painting the fence will brighten up the area and often at the end of summer paint for fences can be picked up cheaply especially if they have dents in the tin, painting can be a job for the spring, you will be suprised how far a tub of paint costing £10 will go and the feel good factor is a bonus when you sit back and take in your hard work... on the patio with the children.
You have lots of pots with plants in, not looking at their best at present, decide what you don't want by way of plants, empty the pots, give them a good clean and stack in a safe place for plants you will buy at the end of the summer or in spring or obtain through recycle, friends and family .
I agree with everything which has been said and would add, whilst you are doing the tasks suggested think ahead to next year- painting the fence will brighten up the area and often at the end of summer paint for fences can be picked up cheaply especially if they have dents in the tin, painting can be a job for the spring, you will be suprised how far a tub of fencing paint costing £10 will go and the feel good factor is a bonus when you sit back and take in your hard work... on the patio with the children.
I would keep it simple for now, leave the patio for the kids to ride their bikes on and lawn the rest,adding flower beds when you decide where you want them.you don't have to do it all at once,next year you will have more time to make little changes,this way it won't seem like such a big job. good luck
hi Andy i agree with the rest - clear as much as possible maybe on the next bank holiday call in some help from friends or family and cook a big pot of chilli-get kids to box up their toys and wife to mark anything for keeping, collect all plants and group them togegether along boundaries digging in for temporary measure.take out little fences and steps look a bit hazardous. i'd take up slabs & group together & re-lay them if they give access to house. then i'd treat fence panels. i'd split area into three say: (i wouldn't bother with a wet lawn take the girls to the park)
then the fun starts you can make a plan for each area and tackle them when funds allow kids are great with bark weed membrane & chippings for slide,wendy house and trampoline, entertaining is great on decking, lighting adds atmosphere, you'd need to improve the soil a bit with manure for flowers and existing plants, birdfeeders add interest. Make A Plan and tick off as you progress
Hi, my boys are 3 and 4. I'd say do it this way:
1. Clear up
2. Sort boundaries (paint, clip hedges, whatever).
3. Hard landscaping. I'd go for a simple, preferably completely level, patio. Like you say, minimises mud dragging in. Mine use ours for scootering, and I have a builder's tray I put out now and again with play sand in for them.
4. Lawn. Prepare and turf the remainder.
5. Any other permanent features - trellis dividers, walls, whatever. I'd keep level changes to a minimum for safety reasons - its no good having a garden that mens mum's constantly running around behind the kids in case they trip - she should be sitting out there with a brew, supervising from her comfy chair!
6. Only after all that can you really start thinking about planting. You need time to assess how sunny or shady or windy or whatever certain areas are before you can choose appropriate plants. There's no rush - why not wait and see where your wife tends to sit - then site some beds where it'll give her either privacy, a good spot to watch the kids, and maybe a nice view. Maybe site another based on the view from the back windows. Maybe one to hide something you don't want to look at. Think about having a focal point for each of these 'key' spots. Maybe a small tree, or a large architectural shrub, or some other kind of feature. When you've got these bits planned to do their jobs, then think about linking them together. Do they work best as 'islands' .or should you connect them? Then think about planting. Start with the biggest plants and then fill the spaces between. Plant things either of decent size, or in decent clumps - nothing makes a small space seem smaller than a 'dolly mixture' border. Don't buy herbaceous plants in ones - for a garden your size, plant in 'triangles' made from 3 plants at a time. Also try to repeat a few of these triangles in different areas - it keeps it looking unified. Hardy geraniums are good for this - they'll grow almost anywhere so are likely to thrive regardless of aspect.
Anyway, that's how I'd go about it. If you didn't plant a thing until spring, you'll still have a useable, much improved space in the meantime, and you'll have had chance to research the planting. If you're really keen to get the planating fabulous, invest in the rhs planting combinations book. You start with one plant you wanna use, look it up, and it gives suggestions for things that look nice/grow well with it. Then look that one up... and so on. Definitely helps the novice a lot, and cheaper than buying the wrong things and ending up replacing.
Good luck, Bx
I am still renovating a garden with a limited budget. That wood wall holding back the raised part. We had a similar problem. Do i see in the picture that the wood is slatted into concrtet poats. if so - this is money i know - but you can gat concrete gravel boards that are about 30cm high search andyou would find some with a brick pattern - much easier on the eye. If these are not high oenough you could gat a plain shorter gravel board and slot in first then add decorative one on top.
I woul also buy paint and make the boundaries look better.
If you started with these 2 things plus tidying you would be surprised how your work plan will slot into place. Oh and I would improve that step up for safety.
Then plan a little each season.
You may get gravel boards off e-cycle. I bought very cheap short picket fence which i painted a pretty green and put on top of gravel boards. I also grow cosmos along the picket fence - perhaps a good safety feature with 2 little girls. Having trouble downloading photo to show you.