London (change)
Today 14°C / 11°C
Tomorrow 11°C / 2°C
15 messages
03/08/2013 at 17:34

I've just moved into a new home with a well-established, if a little unloved, garden.

Some things are nice, some are less so.

So where do I begin? Can anyone recommend a good book (or other resource) that can help me transform it into a perfect garden and teach me the skills I need on the way?

Right now I can cut grass and trim hedges but that's the extent of my skills!

Any suggestions gratefully received.

03/08/2013 at 18:49

Hi congratulations on the new house. I wouldn't be to much of a rush to make changes, I would just keep the lawns tidy, remove any weeds and watch. Make notes of the plants you like, photos are great way of remembering areas. Then about this time next year you will have a much better idea of how your garden will unfold. Regarding knowledge we are always learning, never be afraid to ask questions however stupid they may sound, there will always be someone who will know the answer. There are loads of books you could read a good one for general gardening which I have used is the rhs encyclopaedia of gardening it covers most things. I would nip to the book store grab a drink and have a good look at them all, find one that's right for you. To be honest the web is where I turn to now.

hope it helps and enjoy the garden.

03/08/2013 at 19:41

I agree with pavery about not rushing. Look to see what you've got. ID the shrubs and trees and decide what you want to keep but don't spring into action. There's always someone on this forum who knows, the members rarely let you down. (though no-one ever sorted out what was wrong with my cherry).

The shrubs and trees are the ones to sort first. Perennials can be lifted, divided, chucked or kept at any time

03/08/2013 at 20:14

I'd agree with what's been said Danny about taking your time and logging what you have just now. If you're unsure of some of the shrubs etc get some pix on here and someone will ID them -nut is very good at that! Once you know what's there you can decide what you do and don't want and even remove some before the winter to give you a head start next year.

The other thing I'd add is to work out the aspect of the garden so that you can determine where things will go - for instance, if it's a sunny site you may want to create a shady area for sitting/eating in,  if you have children you might need a place for all the swings and slides etc., if you want a greenhouse or a veg plot you'll  need to get them sited well to get the best out of them. Everyone has different requirements in a garden so getting those basic things in place at the start is important. 

Good luck with all the planning! 

03/08/2013 at 20:22

All great advice here, I would like to watch it for a least year, If it looks shabby now it might be planted for early spring display and you've mised it, or it could look fantastic in winter and give you lots of evergreen.

Congrats on your new home.

03/08/2013 at 20:37

Ditto to all the comments above. Don't dig anything until you know if there are bulbs planted and you won't see those til spring!

03/08/2013 at 20:53

I agree, don't do anything drastic for a year so you can see what you have.  Many plants are expensive and some take years to establish so it would be a shame to accidentally remove or damage any good ones you may have inherited.  When you do tackle a section, it's always best to concentrate on a small area at a time and do it well.  That way you can really appreciate your own efforts.  Doing bits here and there can lead to frustration as you often can't see any improvement when looking at the garden as a whole.  Good luck and enjoy it!

03/08/2013 at 20:56

One thing you can safely do and that is get some well-rotted manure and mulch your borders with it. This is often done in September/October but could be done now. You just can't lose by improving the soil. What is in there already will grow better and anything you choose to plant later will also do better. You can use as much compost as you like, though be careful not to bury stems too deeply until you know what can stand being planted more deeply and what can't.

23/08/2013 at 17:52

'It all  depends', said Pooh, 'on what you want eventually'. You can't eat grass, unless you perhaps prefer to smoke it !  Unless you like salad rops, 'Nasty Urchins' are good to add to salad leaves. Plant some rosemary, thyme, chives, a potted bay tree for a sunny spot, marjoram, pot some mints, ie, apple or pepper or spear mints. A ballerina apple tree or two might be good. Don't try to do too much in one season. Easy duzzit, but do it.ENJOY the patch, and it will show it's appreciation by rewarding you with bounty, eventually, like busses. Nothing for a few months, and then everything happens at once !

23/08/2013 at 20:09

My advice isn't whats been said so far,

You have to firstly ask yourself how much time do you want to spend gardening ?

Take into account the weather, ie you cant just say i'll garden every weekend and then come the week end it's just not gardening weather at all,

You say your a new person to gardening and as an older gardener who's now retired and gardens all day most days i can tell you three things that kill off a lot of people who think they want to garden,

(1) Patience "you really do need a lot of it, good gardens dont just happen "they're a well thought out plan and because we need certain conditions for verious seeds/ plants /shrubs to grow ie type of soil's for different plants, type of weather type of feeding etc etc ,

All this is wasted if all fails due to lack of patience.

(2) Understanding how your chosen  plants/flowers etc grow, what possition they need ie sun/shade/ woodland conditions etc

in other words do your home work read up on the subjects you'd like to grow and be ready in time to take the first step in growing knowing what your doing.

(3) Not trying to run before you can walk, "Dont take on to much at once,

Time is a very big factor in any form of a hobby, And gardening needs lots of it,

Mother nature wont stop weeds growing because you've not  been able to garden this week because it rained over your time off from work,

So again know how to slow weeds down!!

how to give yourself  a chance before it all gets to much,

Better to grow a few well grown shrubs /plants than to have your own home made jungle "because you took to much on,

Use the verious tools and machine's to help both speed up the task and help you not feel like your dead by the end of the days gardening "aches and pain are all part of gardening.

For myself the end of the day just sitting on the bench looking at the garden and all it has to offer is the best time of the day for me and my dog.

Good luck and welcome to gardening.

23/08/2013 at 21:07

its all been said above - i can only add enjoy learning and never stop asking questions!

23/08/2013 at 22:59

Avery good answer from borderbabe2

24/08/2013 at 19:07

Agree with all the above in one way or another, but definitely agree with GG.  When we moved into our house, I couldn't wait to get going, plus I had 200ft of empty borders so it was that or deal with the weeds.  What I wish I had done is improved the soil while I had the chance, I have both heavy clay and really stony soil which I'm now trying to improve around a large number of expensive perennials because I couldn't wait in the first place!  Get the basics right, understand your soil, find out what's needed to improve it and get on with that while you're waiting to see what hidden treasures pop up from the soil next year!

25/08/2013 at 11:26

There's a lot of wonderful advice here already.

One extra idea though: get to know your neighbours, see what works in their gardens and, if possible, line yourself up for receiving some cuttings / seedlings etc of plants you particularly admire. It is all very well to read books - one of the great joys of having a garden is purposeful reading - but the gardener next door will have a better idea about local climate, soil and growing conditions. Don't reinvent the wheel until you're ready!

09/01/2014 at 16:00

Hi Dannybl,

How are you getting on with your new garden? And where are you based? I'm a gardening TV researcher and am always interested in hearing people's stories.

email image
15 messages