ASK AN EXPERT: TRAVEL & HOLIDAYS. You've got a few more days to add your travel & holiday questions for deals expert MSE Oli

What should I do with my new garden?

We just bought our first family home, but neither of us have any clue about gardening, so we’re at a loss as to what to do with it. We’re not planning any major changes (except maybe building a pergola off our patio doors), we mainly just want to maintain it. 

What do we need to do to it to get it ready for summer? Here’s a pic: 



  • FlossFloss Forumite
    7.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Acquire a good petrol lawnmower (or gardener to do it for you) and take photos from the same vantage point every month til next March so you have a record.

    You are best waiting to see what appears through the year then if there is anything you really don't like you can remove & replace for next year.
    2021 Decluttering Awards: ⭐⭐🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇 2022 Decluttering Awards: 🥇 2023 Decluttering Awards: 🥇
  • BrieBrie Forumite
    6.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    Agree with Floss - just do basic maintenance, mow and weed occasionally.  If necessary google what some of the plants are so you are pulling the right ones out.  I had some lovely things popping up the first summer we were in our new place, nice green plant, drought resistant, pretty blue flowers......turns out it's a highly invasive weed that I've been struggling to get rid of ever since.  Dandelions are easier to deal with!
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”

    2023 £1 a day  £54.26/365
  • RASRAS Forumite
    31.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    What time of day did you take that photo? As that would tell you where south is and where you will get sun at either end of the day.

    It would also be good to establish from your deeds and neighbours which boundaries are your responsibility?

    And observe rather than do for a while.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • OakeshottOakeshott Forumite
    67 Posts
    Fourth Anniversary 10 Posts
    The garden is slightly west of south facing. I believe we’re responsible for the first bit of the boundary on the right, but the rest is other gardens backing onto ours. 

    I didn’t know if I need to prune things, do something to the grass, etc. 
  • Nicki_SueNicki_Sue Forumite
    1.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    Congratulations on buying your first home. That's a lovely garden!
    MSE-ing since 2007
  • WoolseryWoolsery Forumite
    1.5K Posts
    1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    Like the others, I'd say don't do anything drastic yet. Live with it and your neighbours for 12 months and just make notes and tentative plans. Cut the grass, weed, and if you feel like adding soil to the depression in the centre do this early in the season adding a bit of seed to make re-establishment quicker. But who knows, maybe you'll want a path there later, though maybe not a straight one.
    Responsibility for fences is often more hearsay than legal fact, so consult title documentation and don't be afraid to do your own thing within your boundary and the normal height regulations. Your left hand neighbour may be a charming person, but you might decide after a time the chain link fence doesn't enhance the garden or its privacy; in which case choosing a way forward will require good diplomacy skills, regardless of who owns it!
  • edited 27 March 2022 at 9:24AM
    RASRAS Forumite
    31.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    edited 27 March 2022 at 9:24AM
    Lost a post, so will save and edit.

    The first thing you need with a lawn that size is a decent mower. We've had a very dry spring but when it rains it could grow 25cm in a fortnight. Electric is possible, but you'd need extension cables and it's easy to damage electric cables. So maybe invest in a small petrol mower now rather than waiting?

    If the garden faces south-ish, your morning and evening eating areas are going to be near the house and the shed will be in the shade much of the day. Since you appear to have small children, think about using the far end as a hot weather shaded play/picnic space? Rig up a rope between the tree on the left and a cup hook screwed into the shed, drape with an old sheet and you have the makings of a tent or awning?  Unhook the rope from the shed at the end of the session. Get a picnic blanket and a couple of camping stools and house them in the shed.

    Pruning. On the right you have a hydrangea in the bottom corner? Cut off the dead flowers. Otherwise it's growing well. Neither the magnolia (white) or chaenomeles  (red) need pruning. Come back when the deciduous trees are in leaf or flower and we can advise further but neither look like they need anything doing this year.

    The shrubs towards the end look like they've been "cloud-pruned". Very popular with contract gardeners as it's quick and easy to do with hedge-trimmers and looks "neat." Is the yellowy one on the left in flower? If so, it's probably forsythia; either search the web or post up a close-up shot. 

    The trouble with that sort of pruning is that it often removes most of the next year's flower buds. Post up a photo when they do flower and we may help identify them.

    My other thought is that at moment you have narrow grass tracks either side of the shrubbery. Because the shrubs are planted very close to them, the shrubs have to be restricted to keep the tracks clear. There may be somewhere towards the middle of the shrubs where you could develop a path through the shrubbery, preferably at a slant, and then allow the shrubs to fill out the whole width of the garden? 

    Oh, and get some wood preservative and give the shed a going over. Green or even a duck egg blue?
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • FlugelhornFlugelhorn Forumite
    4.6K Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    it is indeed a lovely garden - we had a petrol mower for decades then the push button stopped working and our shoulders hated pulling the cord! - so we invested in hefty battery powered lawnmower which worked v well.
  • FarwayFarway Forumite
    12.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    All the above, plus I'd move the kiddies slide around every now & then to prevent bald / muddy patches from constant kids' feet around it
  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
    4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Lovely garden.
    I've used an electric flymo with grass box on a lawn that size for decades
    Don't have the blades too low as a close cut may mean less but you can endd up  with weeds and moss getting in. About just an inch plus.
    Don't prune now unless something is in the way. Then a some need pruning after flowering like the forsythia I think is there but it'll pretty bomb proof.
    Hydrangea leave dead heads on over winter to protect the buds and dead head around now
    For easy colour and fragrance wallflowers. Bit lafte to find them now but giant ones last years and there are some perennial ones that bloom all year round. 
    If you don't know your plants download the app that will tell you from a photo. Popular at the mo.
    If you need to prop up fence posts 1ft concreat supports can be put in while you save/think about what you want

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

Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Clubcard deadline looming

Swap your points for vouchers by Tuesday

MSE News

Best £1 you've ever spent?

Share your most impressive bargains

MSE Forum