So you’ve settled into your new home and it is time to think about the garden. It’s a mess. The grass has been taken care of, but everything else is an overgrown mess. Full of weeds and plain unsightly. If it is a new build, it’s also full of builders rubble.Don’t Panic! Before you really start to work on your garden, you need to decide what you want to use it for.
Perhaps you need some of these:-
- Decorative flower beds
- Somewhere to entertain
- A vegetable plot
- A greenhouse to raise plants
- A garden pond
- A playground for the kids
It is always a good idea to make a shortlist of your needs. The last thing you want is a patch of grass bordered with narrow flowerd beds.
Provided you have a reasonable size patch, with some planning it is fairly easy to combine two or more of the above uses. You might want use some landscape design software to make this process easier. You should always start by drawing an outline of the plot together with an indication of where the sun is. You will then know which areas are shady and which are in full sunshine. You will also want to place seating to catch the last of the evening sun when you are entertaining. There are also plants which will only survive in the sun – and those which will wither given to much sun.
You now need to clear the worst of the builders rubble before you do anything else. Next test your soil PH. You need to know whether you have an acid soil or if it is alkiline. Test several different places, since the PH may vary across the garden.
Right, so now you have the shape, size, aspect and soil type of your garden. Time to get to work. Clear all those weeds and dig the garden over. There are no reliable shortcuts. You can try weed-killer, but the deep rooted and pernicious weeds will only come back. Whatever you decide to grow, it will do much better and save a lot of time and effort in the long run if you do this preparation thoroughly. Its boring, its tedious, its hard work, with very little to show for it. But its necessary.
Now for the hard landscaping. Deciding where to put paths, garden ponds,a patio or seating area, and if you want them a potting shed and a greenhouse. A garden shed may seem unnecessary at first, but you will find it immensely useful to store all your tools (thus freeing room in your garage or utility room). If organised, it will make it much easier to find everything and can also be used to sow seeds in pots or put plants in pots. The use of sheds in the garden is something books have been written about so I shan’t go into detail here. However, you will want the shed to be attractive if it can be seen from the house. So be sure that you leave enough room to grow plants over it if wished, or have other ways to screen it.
Now start to draw the general plan of your garden – this is where the fun starts. Just a general outline is enough for now, you don’t need too much detail. If you want a pond or other water feature, plan what you will do with the soil you dig out. What will you do with dead plants, grass cuttings etc. You need a compost heap, again plan where it will go and how you will screen it from the house. If you intend to raise hens, then think about building your own chicken house.
When you start to build your garden, begin with any large excavations you want. Don’t forget any excavations you will need for the garden pond pump and pipes. Next comes paths and hard standings, then any grass. Finally you have the planting.
This all takes time and hard work, but you will eventually be fully rewarded with a garden which will be exactly as you want it, meeting all your requirements and will take much less work to manage than if you had not spent time on the preparation.