Concrete garden challenge - ideas please

elljayelljay Forumite
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Hello all.  I'm probably going to be moving in late August/Early Sept and the house has a concrete garden.  It isn't all one piece, it was originally part of a farmyard so is patched with concrete, tarmac, gravel stuff (loose stones) and presumably whatever else the farmer could lay his hands on for the cows to walk on.  The house is going to take most of my energy and money for the first few months, but I can't bear looking out over this horrible mess.  I may be able to dig out a strip along one side - it looks easier - and at least put some stuff in, definitely daffs for spring.

Secondly, I want to take as many plants as poss from my present garden (rented so rules about taking plants don't apply), they're mostly cheap everyday  perennials, roses, herbs etc bought from church fetes or self sown etc so individually cheap but together add up to quite a bit.  The garden I'm leaving is very much scruffy cottage style, everything growing up and through each other, and a veg and fruit bush plot, which is exactly the look I want at the new house.  Is it worth potting these up and trying to keep them till spring when I'm hoping to be a bit more solvent and can really attack the garden.  Conditions pretty similar, I'm only going to a village 15 minutes away. The landlord here is planning on gutting the house so the garden will be wrecked by builders etc..  Or maybe I should completely forget digging up the concrete and put gravel and  planters on top.

....and finally, the new garden has lovely views over farmland and hills but I've realised that when you sit in it, you can't see over a drystone wall at the end.  So I want to put a raised seating area next to the house wall (no windows on that bit.) but anything I think of will look like some sort of podium where the queen waves to her loyal subjects.  Has anyone any creative ideas for this?

Sorry about all the questions but I really want to think this through well.  I'm sure there'll be more.  Thank you

Liz
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Replies

  • RASRAS Forumite
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    Lots of questions here. A few thoughts. 

    Can you find put what is under the gravel? Might that be some sort of rough soil? perhaps mixed with stone?
    If you are potting up plants, pot them  with as large a root ball as possible into as large containers as possible (old polystyrene international freight boxes for example), make holes in the bottom and place of the gravel area. Water well every week. You will at least have drainage which means that they won't die of waterlogging by spring.

    Alternatively place them on the north side of a wall so they need less water.  

    You may have areas where the concrete is damaged and for the future they could form the starting point for planting areas.
    And consider pruning back larger shrubs so the plant is not much bigger then the rootball to give them a chance to survive the shock?
     
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • sherambersheramber Forumite
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    Definitely pot up the plants and give yourself time to plan what you want to do and investigate how easy it will be to dig  the surface up. Also, check what th soil underneath is like and if it suitable for planting or needs some preparation.
    Do not rush into anything.

  • gwynlasgwynlas Forumite
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    Our first flat was in a conversion that came with a concrete garden, part of a commercial car park so no idea  how far down we would have to dig for soil. We used a mixture of planters picked up wherever we could get things cheaply and it lookked quite green and established when it came time to sell.
    On a temporary basis you could make some raised beds to hold the perennials you are taking,
    I've recently seen a video where they were constructed quite tall and the bases filled with branches prior to topsoill the idea being that the wood would slowly break down, There is a name for this type of gardening which i cannot remember at the moment.
  • gwynlasgwynlas Forumite
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    Further to above I have just goo' gled lasagna gardening which explains above but is not the term I initially heard,
    re your dias  itwill look less obvious if it it is in a corner, or if is fenced on one side and you plant up to it as though it is a level mound
  • edited 22 June 2020 at 12:53PM
    phoebe1989sebphoebe1989seb Forumite
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    edited 22 June 2020 at 12:53PM
    Hi Liz, I don't have anything more useful to add to what's already been said above, but wanted to hopefully give you some inspiration  :)

    We bought our current home as a repossession 28 months ago. It's a rural period property with a walled courtyard immediately next to the cottage and a further half an acre garden that wraps around the property, plus a small area of woodland. 

    When we moved in the entire garden was completely neglected with barely any *interesting* smaller plants - just loads of huge trees, laurel hedging that had gone mad and weeds galore. The courtyard had at some point been decked but half of this had been removed (used as firewood we think) and the whole was barren and devoid of life/colour.

    As we were to be living here whilst working on our new home project, we wanted somewhere outside to sit that was attractive/conducive to relaxation. Virtually the first thing we did a month after moving in was tackle the courtyard. We removed the decking, laid a membrane over the cracked concrete beneath and added tons of gravel around raised vegetable beds which DH made from new oak sleepers. We added some of our vast collection of planters, some of which contained established shrubs/perennials we had planted in our previous garden and dug up prior to putting that house up for sale.

    Almost immediately it became a pretty, characterful place to sit with a glass of wine after a hard day's DIY  ;)

    Most of the plants we brought with us - including roses and small trees - are now in the main garden.

    For inspiration I'm adding before and after pics of the courtyard and main garden (please excuse the quality of the befores!) plus one of the newly fitted - but not quite finished! - gate between the two.......

    Good luck with your move and project!
    :j Mortgage-free for twelve years! :j

    :T Over £40,000 mis-sold PPI reclaimed :T
  • MoneySeeker1MoneySeeker1 Forumite
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    gwynlas said:
    Our first flat was in a conversion that came with a concrete garden, part of a commercial car park so no idea  how far down we would have to dig for soil. We used a mixture of planters picked up wherever we could get things cheaply and it lookked quite green and established when it came time to sell.
    On a temporary basis you could make some raised beds to hold the perennials you are taking,
    I've recently seen a video where they were constructed quite tall and the bases filled with branches prior to topsoill the idea being that the wood would slowly break down, There is a name for this type of gardening which i cannot remember at the moment.
    Hugelkultur is the word you want.

  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
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    You might want to look up Garden Rescue, Series3 Stowmarket or Walsall where they did just that. Put in raised beds, trees and such. It was an eyeopener as to what you can do with such an unpromising space.
    I moved into a tip of a bungalow where there was solid turf and gravel edges, never been cultivated. I had loads of pots with my plants in. The movers didn't look to happy about it.
    My first thing was to put a low box hedge and box balls in pots around the area I could see from my sofa and as a 'patio' area with pots of pansies in the corners, some seating and the bird bath and bird table at the end to draw the eye.
    At the front I planted up a small section with dwarf lavender so when I looked out of the window I already had a garden. I also had a small lilac tree in a pot.
    This satisfied me while I worked on the house and garden. Daffs and tulips were put in pots. Climbers from supermarkets and pound shop. Put in pots to start their recovery and clematis in the first season.
    With some stuff in to satisfy the need, somewhere to sit with a drink initially while you look and work out whats best for the shape. Apart from what I've mentioned the garden evolved and not as I'd envisiaged at the beginning. Somethings were too formal that I'd planned, some not so proportioned and the big bench ended up where I'd dug the big veg bed because I found I could see the hills from there. So start with something small and achievable. See what turns up as you work because it might not be what you think :)
    The patch down the side sounds promising. Trees? Edgings?


    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well

  • elljayelljay Forumite
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    Oh my word, thank you so much everyone for these replies.and phoebe1989seb your garden is absolutely stunning. You've done so much in such a relatively short period.  

    This is very much a head over heart move with an awful lot of compromises.  My current abode sounds similar to Phoebe's, it's a small detached cottage surrounded by a third to half an acre with woodland, shrubbery, big fruit and veg patch in the absolute middle of nowhere and I'm going to a semi, neighbours either side, with this scruffy patch of concrete for a garden.  So basically I want to do as much as I can to make the garden a haven (and as private as possible - I'm a hermit by nature!!!) to persuade me that the move is the right thing to do.  You've all persuaded me that this is indeed possible and in 10 years time (when I'm 80!!)  I'll realise it was the right decision to make!

    Thank you so much, I can't tell you how grateful I am, I'm sure I'll be back as time goes on.   Liz
  • MoneySeeker1MoneySeeker1 Forumite
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    Well I found the Garden Rescue programme mentioned - it is Stowmarket and is Episode 23 in Series 3.

    They certainly made a big difference to that "concrete jungle" of a garden - and for only £3,000 (albeit that was materials only - as the labour is free).

  • elljayelljay Forumite
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    Yes I've now watched both (the Walsall one is Series 1, Ep 2) Lots of food for thought, thank you so much, I've never seen that show before.  I'd better start digging out some tubs though I'll have to buy some too, and make a start on potting up.  But oooh, my fruit and veg :'( - I might see if I can come back and pick those if nobody's coming in immediately.  Again, thanks all.  

    Liz
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