Housing estate garden project.

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by johnynoi, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. johnynoi

    johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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    I wish I could say I was born with green fingers, but I wasn't. Until recently, my childhood trauma of having to weed my parents garden anytime I was naughty put me off anything to do with grass or shrubbery for life. Or so I thought.

    I recently became a proud parent myself, and one of those adulthood switches kind of went off inside me. You know, the switches that make you interested in things that would have bored the pants of you when you were younger, like leisure walking, fishing, washing the car properly and the discovery channel.

    Anyway, the garden switch went off and I'm determined over the next few years to have a garden that the kids wont be embarrassed of and that me and my partner can enjoy and relax in. As the picture shows, its in a bit of a state right now (ours is the one with the half built shed)

    [​IMG]

    I thought I'd test the waters with my gardening keen-ness by mowing the grass tinted weeds. The grass area was barely touched last year with the better half carrying a 9 lb monster inside her, and was heavily overgrown. Six weeks of mowing later, (every Thursday after work, heck when did I get organised!?) its looking a bit better, and at least now some grass is showing through the dandelions. I also got an assortment of plant seeds and some vegetables and started them off in the wee plastic greenhouse thing you can see on the left hand side of the photo.

    Miracle of Miracles, somethings actually growing!

    So, I think I can do this! But I need help, and that's where you lovely horticulturally gifted people come in, if you would be so kind?
     
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    • Madahhlia

      Madahhlia Total Gardener

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      Welcome to Gardener's Corner, Johnynoi! Just ask away and people will do what they can to help!

      The plot is looking pretty good - not in a state at all. A good base to work from and because it's already tidy, there's no pressure to get it looking OK, you can take your time thinking it over.

      Probably the first decision is where to site the veg beds and flower borders that you will need to put the seeds you're growing in, when they're ready. Pick a sunny spot, and think about putting flower beds near windows or seating areas.

      Don't worry about getting it wrong because if you change your mind next year, you can dig stuff out, move it, and turf over the old bed.
       
    • johnynoi

      johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks Madahhlia!

      For the flower beds, I was thinking about cutting out a border around the edges of the lawn. Just now the grass and weeds go right up to the fences on all sides, am I right in thinking that bordering this out will look both tidier and make the grass cutting easier? Luckily the garden is so far away from the house that it gets sun most of the day, the only shade at the moment is that cast from the fences!

      The lawn at the left hand side of the photo is in much better condition than at the right hand side, so I'm thinking about saving that. At the right hand side the lawn is in a much worse condition. My partner wants a decking/paved area for sitting out on, so that and any raised beds, vegetables etc will go down that side. I'll have to combat the hellish slope in the garden for that too! About ten years ago tenements used to stand here before they were demolished to make way for these houses, so the ground is quite rubbly after about ten inches deep. I found that out after the impromptu funeral service for the guinea pig.......
       
    • clueless1

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

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      Hello and welcome.

      Those switches you mentioned, there's still some to flick yet. I see no sign of the Volvo estate parked outside. Unless its round the front?

      As for the garden, just ask away.
       
    • johnynoi

      johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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      Good point clueless1! Its a 5 door focus, but no doubt when the money is less tight a volvo or similar estate (people carrier, eeek!) will be on the cards. The focus doesn't really work with 2 kids, 2 dogs, a cat and 4 horses........

      The first thing I think I'm going to do is tidy up the edges of the lawn with a border around it. I guess the process is:

      1 - Mark out area
      2- Dig up the grass
      3- Pick out the weeds
      4-?????
       
    • nFrost

      nFrost Head Gardener

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      Now THAT I can relate too, hahahaha.

      Welcome Johnny, you'll find plenty of help here!
       
    • johnynoi

      johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks nFrost

      As it was remarkably nice weather up here today, I thought I'd make a start on the weeds. After a few minutes I thought I'd stumbled upon the creepy crawly version of Jurrassic Park! I know what worms are, but that's about it. But I persevered and ended up with this

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Might not look like much, but that took me about three hours to clear, it was chock a block full of massive weeds and grass! I've also run the earth through a sieve and removed as much roots and demolition rubble as possible.

      Housing Estate Time Time find of the day - a mound of buried mult- coloured crayons!

      I'm going to continue the border around the lawn at the same width but that might take a while, so in the short term I'm going to continue with the area in picture 2 and work out from there. The bit of rough patchy grass next to the path will probably be filled out with matching slabs.

      My question today is, what should I do with the soil in that small area before I put any plants in it?
       
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      • clueless1

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

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        Depends what plants you intend to put in, and how many. As a general rule, if you haven't decided what to put in yet, and want it to be 'generic' to support a wide range of plants, then fill it with compost or manure to give it better structure.
         
      • johnynoi

        johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks Clueless1!

        If using compost, are the bags from the diy stores decent enough, and peat free or not?

        Alternatively, I can get horse manure on a daily basis, if putting that down can it go straight on or would it have to "mature" for a bit first?
         
      • clueless1

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

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        Its not very high in nutrients but will add to the soil structure, so I'd just go with what's cheapest. I bought a load of spent mushroom compost for my garden, its cheaper than regular and is has excellent structure. I bought it in bulk (60x 50L sacks). Its probably less widely available/more expensive in small quantities.

        As for the peat free thing, I know there is some controversy here, but personally I don't believe there is a real issue. If I did, I'd never use it, but there is plenty of peat in Britain, and will continue to be so as long as we have a problem with bracken (which grows en-masse, naturally dies, decomposes and becomes peat).

        It depends on two things:
        1) What you intend to grow there
        2) Who you ask

        Delicate plants wont like fresh poo at all. More robust plants will be less bothered. Tatties thrive in fresh poo. The best crop I've ever seen was planted in poo that was still steaming when we put it in the trenches. There are some potent chemicals in fresh horse poo though (or poo of any kind), and some plants will be physically damaged by it.

        As an aside, when I was a kid, I remember our local park had the most impressive rose gardens I've ever seen before or since. I distinctly remember the rose beds were regularly dressed with fresh horse poo straight from some local stables. Its years since they did that, and indeed modern rose care advice rules out using fresh poo. The rose gardens are still there, but every time I walk past, I see nearly dead bushes.
         
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        • johnynoi

          johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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          Cheers for that Clueless, I appreciate that! I think to be on the safe side I'll go for compost just now and save the poo for the future veg plot!

          I guess that leads on to the next question, what to grow there!? Ideally for my first few seasons something that I can plant that wont die a horrible death from my inexperience would be handy! I'm thinking some spaced out shrubs with flowers in between around the whole lawn? Alternatively, the fence bordering two of the neighbours gardens is quite low, so something that could add a bit of height and privacy?
           
        • clueless1

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

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          Save the poo up in a pile to rot for a while and use it next year.

          Something that wont die a horrible death eh? Flowers? Something harmless to kids and pets? Then have a look at Nasturtium:)

          I always recommend nasturtium for everything. Its a fantastic plant. It is very easy to grow, pretty, edible, low (practically zero) maintenance, and grows very fast. If your kids or dogs trash it in the way that only kids and animals can, it just grows back thicker and faster. The bumblebees love it, it helps improve poor soil as its vast root network adds lots of fibre. Oh, and some varieties are quite good at climbing, so you can train it up the fence.

          It self seeds profusely, so once its in there, you don't have to plant it again the next year, but if you do decide you hate it, that's ok too, because it is not frost hardy so gets wiped out completely every winter, and the seedlings are very easily spotted and easy to remove should they pop up where you don't want them.
           
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          • johnynoi

            johnynoi Apprentice Gardener

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            Wow thanks, a trip to the garden centre I think! I have some dwarf sunflowers, snapdragons and a few other random plants from lidls growing in a propogator just now too, but they were bought with no rhyme or reason in mind! Im just pleased some have actually germinated!
             
          • wandering

            wandering Gardener

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            A trip to your recycling centre might also be useful. They generally sell your garden waste back to you in the form of 'compost'. This is soil conditioner and not potting compost and is just what you need for your borders. It will smother any remaining weeds if you throw a 3 or 4 inch layer on the cleared soil and will make pulling up any new weeds much easier. You can also mix it with your soil for planting and the roots will establish easier. And it will help by retaining water like a sponge.
            My local recycling centre is giving it away at the moment because they need to make space for more garden waste. Definitely worth a look.
             
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