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We have just moved to a house with an east facing garden. It also appears to be very waterlogged, large patches of standing water. I'd like to start planning what I'm going to do with it in the spring but I have no idea what to do. The house we were in before had a south facing garden and that's what im used to. I'm more into the wildlife type of garden than anything else. Had to leave behind an established wildlife pond at my last place, I just don't know if it's worth putting one in a grim looking garden like this ! I also want some herbs and veg but without much sun is it worth attempting? So basically I'd love some ideas on what to do to make this garden bearable !
edited to add - the garden currently is a patchy poor lawn with a small overgrown border. Not much else. In the front garden it's also a patchy lawn with a clump of marigolds.

Hiya deb

How about putting in a pond again? ,work with the conditions. 

Plants for damp soil in shade abound.  Again, working with your comditions, you could make your garden look stunning.  Lots of good plants will enjoy it there

Is it really waterlogged because of recent heavy rains?  What is the ground like usually?   Check to see how quickly the water drains away.  

Wow quick reply ! I think the ground was waterlogged before the heavy rains came . I'm keeping an eye on what happens with the water. I feel a bit overwhelmed, I keep thinking nothing will grow in it because of the shade / water etc.

It will be a different garden Deb, but there's something that will grow in all situations and drainage can be improved.

Don't try and recreate what you had, that will lead to disappointment. Look around and see what grows well in other gardens  around there. See what's there already. You may get more sun than you would expect from looking at it now, winter solstice time. Herbs can be grown in pots if the ground is too heavy for them, herbs do well in pots.

Can we have a few pictures 




flooded area is it just compacted soil or is it clay ?

is it a lawn area that's flooded




if you have shade and wall/fencing paint them white to bounce extra light in to a area


Making a new, unlined pond is the obvious answer to drainage problems.  We did it as our garden would otherwise be waterlogged all year.    Make it good and deep in the middle - 3' is good - and plant the edges with marginals such as iris sibirica and other irises plus some tall plants like miscanthus zebrinus which will mask the pond a bit when water levels recede in summer.   As it is unlined you will need to referee as plants like yellow flag, bullrushes and native grasses will do their best to invade and terraform it so invest in some waders form a fishing supplies shop.

Since you can't do much else in winter, get to the lirary and borrow books on shade gardening.   There are lots out there and an east facing garden should present plenty of opportunities for beautiful and interesting plants.    Wildlife doesn't need native plants so much as plants which provide pollen, nectar and shelter.   You can also consult the RHS Plant Selector for plants suitable for an east facing garden -

With a new and unknown garden it's also a good idea to let it be in its first year and just weed borders, cut tehgrass and do obvious pruning.  Then you can see what you have and what you need to change.  Take photos and jot down ideas as they occur so that, come autumn, you can start the planning and design of all the changes you want to make.    You can also sow seeds and bring on new perennials for planting out later on.



The back of our house faces east, which means that the garden gets sun from the east and the south until mid afternoon and then sunshine from the west over the flat roof of the garage - we grow all sorts of flowers, shrubs, fruit and veg - the veg plot is alongside the south facing fence with fruit trained on the fence.  We had our own fig last summer from our baby fig tree 


We had 20+ heritage tomato plants last summer and every tomato bar one ripened, we grow runner beans, over wintered broad beans, garlic, swiss chard, french beans, purple sprouting broc, butternut squash, courgettes, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, etc, plus raspberries, gooseberries and strawberries and the aforementioned fig in a pot on the terrace, and are establishing an espaliered pear tree.  

The southern boundary is terraced (the base of our neighbour's fence being 3ft higher than our lawn, so their 6ft fence is in effect 9ft tall, so we do have a shady north facing border, but we have clematis, roses, echinacea, foxgloves, hostas, cyclamen and many other shrubs and perennials on our Shady Bank.

 This is the Shady Bank in it's first year .... don't be despondent - your garden is full of potential.

Merry Christmas 

Even with an east facing garden you are still going to get plenty of light, and some sun.

As clueless says clay may be the reason you are waterlogged.

The only way you can reduce the water table is to improve the drainage.

You can sink a drainage system in, to carry some of the water away, but this will depend upon where the water will end up.

If you are on clay a pond will be easier to install, so there will be no worries there.

The addition of plenty of grit and manure will improve the top 12" of soil.

Right now, once the water has drained a bit, just exposing the clay to winter frost, will help break it up.

It will be a lot of hard work, but there is no reason why you can't still have a fantastic garden.

Patience and planning are the keys here and you have a fantastic set of helpers on here who can guide you every step of the way.  




Hi Deb. Look on it as a new challenge and a chance to try something totally different. As others have said, there are loads of plants which will thrive there and you'll have no problem working in a lovely wildlife pond. Areas which stay wet can be planted up as a bog garden too. In a previous house I had a pond in the north west facing front garden and it really only got sun in the later afternoon . It was full of life, and we spent many happy hours watching birds bathing, froglets hopping, and all sorts of insects visiting from  the front window as it was only a few feet away. In this new property I'm in, there was very little in the garden and I'm gradually putting in raised beds and borders some of which also get very little sun except in afternoons in summer and I've got loads of 'shady' plants in already. 

Once you're ready to start in  spring, you'll get loads of help and advice from everyone here. 

Woodgreen wonderboy

I dug 2 new shady borders last year, deliberately!!! North facing under viburnam/bay bushes that are gradually encroaching. Planted with pulmonarias, lamium, heuchera, erythroniums, trilliums and a few other goodies. When you get a result in a previously unproductive area you get even more satisfaction and brownie points.


When 'They' eventually ask me to go on Desert Island Discs, one of my choices will be a recording of Geoffrey Smith on GQT, listing all the wonderful plants you can grow in a shady garden - absolute poetry!!! 


We've had several threads re shade plants over the last year. I can't remember what any were called. If anyone can remember, and find them, they might bring Deb some cheer 


my patio out side my kitchen window only gets about 4hr of sun in the morning OK until about 10.00 and my hanging baskets and jasmine do well Ok I swap the baskets around every two to three weeks in the summer even my pots do well on the patio out side the kitchen.

I think even tomatoes have grown quite well but I have to watch the watering because the area where I've grown them doesn't get much rain water.


But if you plant something and it doesn't grow move on and try a different plant that's what I love about gardening what suits one may not suit someone else




When I was looking for inspiration I googled shade loving plants and it brought up a  nursery called Long Acre Plants who specialise in just that! Lots of lovely stuff on there 



Nice aren't they James? Not good for the bank balance though eh! Maybe if you're good, Santa might bring you some next year...start dropping hints soon  

Hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas 


thank you FG yes just looking I must have spent £200.00 with out thinking

do you think we've scared Debs off ??


O and a merry Christmas to you and yours xuxuxux

We have a South facing wet back garden where all the water runs off from the hills to the side of us.

We struggled with a lawn for a good few years but couldn't fight off the moss so we took up the turf and laid a weed proof membrane then gravel. We dug out three shaped garden beds and used old cobble stones to define the shapes. We looked carefully as to where the water gathers and floods, and my Husband dug two 3ft deep sink holes which we filled with stones, bricks and gravel - they have worked very well in draining the excess.

Finally we created a small wildlife pond (lined with membrane) in what remained as the wettest part of the garden.

The garden is far more attractive in Winter than it was with the wet old lawn, and I am glad we created bedding areas for more flowers. The pond is a source of constant interest and we get a lot of bees and butterflies in Summer so nature hasn't suffered.

Although we face South, a lot of the garden is in partial shade due to well established shrubbery. There are loads of plants that thrive in that sort of situation and I think that if you love gardening, you will find it very satisfying to establish a new, different garden than your previous one. If you Google "plants for shade" you will get lots of ideas. Look on it as a new challenge and a way of finding out about different plants. Spend the Winter planning it and looking at the plant catalogues then start afresh in Spring on your new adventure!

Good luck!