Help and advice needed for a shady, weedy, floody garden

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Snorky85, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    Hello peeps

    Newbie here and this is my third attempt at trying to write a post without my ipad playing up and deleting everything I have just typed!

    Would really love some advice on how to deal with my garden that floods (as it is lower than every surrounding garden), is shady (as the neighbours trees with TPOs are not maintained) and is full of weeds.

    Looking for a way to tidy it up, on a budget for the next couple of years, whilst I save up to be able to get the garden raised and put some drainage in.

    Any recommendations on suitable, easy maintenance plants?

    Also-I've made a start by pulling out most of the border as it was just a damp mess. Have since sprayed roundup which has killed all the weeds-not sure what to do next-is a hoe the best tool for the job? If so-what type should I get (I've only got a fork and a spade at the moment). The ground is unusually really dry and hard at the minute with this hot weather! Also-the soil seems 'ok' ie it's not clay!

    Any advice for a beginner much appreciated!

    Have added some pics (or at least will try to!)

    Thanks!

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  2. clueless1

    clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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    Hello and welcome. I had a look at your pictures, it doesn't look too shady. I reckon you'd get away with a wider range of plants than you might think.

    I reckon the flooding is going to be the bigger problem.

    Could you not build raised beds to get round that?

    If you want to do it as cheaply as possible while you save up to get the drainage sorted properly, there are plants that will thrive in the conditions you describe. Others here will no doubt have better suggests, but a few spring to mind, such as:

    * Nasturtium. I recommend this for nearly everything. It is a wonder plant.
    * Mint. Be careful though, it may take over.
    * Ferns.
    * Rhubarb.
    * Upright lobelia
    * Montbretia / Crocosmia
     
  3. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    Thanks for the speedy reply!

    Yes-the pics are a bit deceiving-took those tonight at dusk! It's usually pretty black at the very bottom end of the garden but have been chopping back some over hanging trees!

    Attached a pic of the garden when it's in full flood!

    Thanks for the plant ideas-will definitely look them up!


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  4. clueless1

    clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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    When it floods like that, typically how long does the puddle stay?
     
  5. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    About a week! :( that was 2 days of rain. It has been higher than that before but never up to the patio.

    I'm really not sure whether to do anything with the garden yet except keep it weed free as the flooding is so bad. Worried it may destroy anything I plant!


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  6. Jungle Jane

    Jungle Jane Middle Class Twit Of The Year 2005

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    It depends what you want to use the garden for. If you want to keep the lawn then it will prove more costly than say just filling the whole space with bog plants. You could mount a deck walkway and have a decked area at the back if you wanted to. So even when it was flooded you could still use the garden.

    I'd plant some bog plants that thrive in shade. Gunnera Manicata would love it there and is a real monster once it gets going.If you do get a bit of sun then planting some willow may combat a lot of the drainage issues. You can get twisted ones that look really cool. Just make sure they are well away from your sewers.

    I'd dig a large hole in the centre of the ground to see if the water is really draining away as much as it should and that the water isn't just sitting bellow the soil so you can't see it.
     
  7. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    Looks like it slopes away from the house? Any chance you could run a drain "downhill" - past the fence? If so you can do that yourself, relatively cheaply. Perforated drainage pipe comes on a roll, you dig a trench, put the pipe in the bottom and cover it with stones (e.g. gravel) and then fill with the soil you dug out. I have standing water like your photo (although not as deep) after heavy rainfall ... its gone within 20 minutes, and my drainage pipe is only connected to a soakaway, not running freely into a ditch or similar.

    Those trees are going to drink the ground dry, by the looks of it, in summer so I don't think you will be able to plant a "bog" garden, as the plants would need a huge amount of water when dry (like now)
     
  8. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    Hello-thanks for the replies! Really helps to hear others thought and ideas!

    Yep-the garden slopes down at the end, however, it looks like the old owners had tried to build up the borders as they raise up. It's quite dry in the borders at the minute but the "lawn" (if you can call it that) is quite damp. It's full of holes, patches and is mainly moss.

    Funnily enough, behind the big evergreen at the back,the neighbours have a huge weeping willow! I thought that would have sucked up the water when it floods but its not as quick as pumping out the water would be...

    Definitely going to think about getting a soakaway put in. I think that's the only real solution.

    My big plan for the garden is to make it like an extension of living area-I ideally want a shed/outbuilding at the back that could be used as an office. Maybe some decking or paving with a nice seating area. Also would like a nice lawned area and some flower beds between the patio and the potential shed/outbuilding at the back. Although these are all dreams-no idea how much a soakaway would cost?! let alone all the other work.

    Do you think planting anything at all would be a waste? I feel a bit stuck as I'm worried flood water would kill plants and bulbs, but the dry weather and vast amount of trees would kill water loving plants! I feel like I am in a no win situation! :( humph!

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  9. clueless1

    clueless1 member... yep, that's what I am:)

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    Simplest/Cheapest things first, do you know what the soil is like?

    I'm wondering if it has become compacted so it wont drain. Or even simpler, if there is a crust or 'pan' on the surface, then it may well be that rain water just sits on top of the soil.

    The big problem is if the water table rises higher than the surface of your lawn, then all the drainage in the world will make no difference (unless you install a bilge pump:) ). If the water is simply slow to drain from the surface, then it may be a simple case of busting the 'pan' (the compacted surface layer), by aerating it with a fork or various proper tools. If its more than the soil is just bad at draining because it is mostly clay, then its a bit more work (and expense) because in my opinion (and I have been known to over complicate things), you need to dig it over and mix in loads of anything that loosens clay. Grit/sand is often recommended for this purpose.
     
  10. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    There's definitely no clay in the soil. My parents house back in Lincolnshire was heavy clay and the soil down here in Hampshire is much better. It's just damp and the lawns really spongy and mossy. The back garden is much lower than the front garden and surrounding gardens.

    We have got a drain that runs along the back of the house and the manhole cover is in the patio. But obviously not allowed to drain into the main drain (I think?)


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  11. Jungle Jane

    Jungle Jane Middle Class Twit Of The Year 2005

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    It probably is sucking out a lot of the water, but willows won't do it instantaneously. So there probably would be a lot more water in your garden is the willow wasn't there.
     
  12. Kristen

    Kristen Under gardener

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    Not in winter - no leaves on the tree then, so I doubt it will be drinking much at all then :(

    Is the house new? If so there might be a plough-pan from when it was agricultureal soil. That can be as hard as concrete, so to speak, and breaking it up will greatly improve the drainage.

    No real substitute on wet ground other than drains of some sort. Or you could make a pond / water feature of course ... decking out over the top of that could be spectacular - water lilies, huge Koi carp ... :)
     
  13. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    The house was probably built in 60s/70s...so not sure?! I live near a big pond (Fleet pond in Hampshire) so think its just a generally floody wet area. Attached a couple of closer up pics of the back of the garden-just to show you how poor the ground/lawn is. To be honest I think digging the whole garden up would be best!

    I'm liking the sounds of water feature with decking over! :) Think I better get saving up!


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  14. Jungle Jane

    Jungle Jane Middle Class Twit Of The Year 2005

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    Does the damp soil go all the way up to your fencing? As in those pictures you just posted it looks like the fence panels are rotting from the bottom. Perhaps replace those with some concrete gravel boards to keep the wood away from the dampness of the ground.Replace the posts as well with some concrete ones too.

    Like most things in life, you save more money if you are willing to do most of the work yourself. Decking isn't difficult to build if you are diy minded. Although the dampness of the soil may require more thought on how to keep the uprights from rotting away.
     
  15. Snorky85

    Snorky85 Total Gardener

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    Yes I think the fences may be rotting. They have been sprayed since we moved in two years ago but they seem to go green (apart from the parts of the fence which are underneath the over growing pines).

    Had a chat with the OH and we're going to get some quotes for putting some drainage in and raising the ground.

    Just thinking about the fences-on the left side fence the neighbours over growing trees have ivy growing up them-the ivy is also growing on the fence and coming through. Last year I ripped all the ivy off that had grown through but as expected, it's grown back-would you think it was cheeky if I asked them to cut the ivy back on their side?! I think it's actually damaging the fence!


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