New gardener with half shaded/half sun symmetrical garden - need help!

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by Ian W, May 11, 2015.

  1. Ian W

    Ian W Apprentice Gardener

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    So..... I have never had a garden before but having moved house to Leigh-on-sea in Essex last year I have ended up with a garden that needed some work.

    As you can see from the attached pics, I tore out some huge planters with horrible half dead trees in them at the end of the garden to make it bigger. Then I replaced the trashed grass with some fantastic artificial grass (don't hate me, we have a greyhound who would ruin a proper lawn very quickly) and I then cleared out the raised beds and planters down the side.

    However, now all the manual work is done, I've realised I have no idea what to plant!! The slight problem I have is that the garden is west facing and the raised bed on the left of the photo gets very little sun whilst the bed on the right gets absolutely drenched in it. With the garden having been designed to be symmetrical by the previous owners, it ended up with one side huge and overgrown and the other side stunted and stretching out over the lawn away from the bed.

    I am totally open minded about what to plant. I had envisaged some all-year-round greenery and as the garden has a fairly modern design was planning on some form of stones/chippings in the beds once the plants were in. It would also be great to have it relatively low maintenance although I plan to spend more time on it that the previous owners!

    So basically I am open to ideas of what experienced gardeners think I should be planting where and what I should do about my symmetrical garden/asymmetrical growth problems! Keeping in mind that I have no idea what I'm doing, please don't feel bad letting me know anything that should be obvious to someone in the know.... I.E. Will I need to put fresh soil in the beds?

    You can't really see in the pictures but the two large silver planters at the front have an olive tree in each of them that I have kept. Again the left one a bit more stunted than the right! They did also have some half dead low green plant filling the planter around the trees but I have removed these. Should I replant something else there or simply put chippings in for a smarter finish? They are also both leaning due to a strong wind that travels across the garden left to right. They won't budge when I pull on them, is there any safe way I can straighten them without risking damaging them?

    Thanks in advance for any ideas, help and advice! Looking forward to starting my gardening career!!

    Ian

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  2. Sheal

    Sheal Total Gardener

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    Welcome to GC Ian. :) Leigh-on-Sea, not to far from where I was reared, in Benfleet.

    For somebody that's not had a garden before you've made a grand job of putting it right! :dbgrtmb: We're looking at plants for shade on one side and plants for sun on the other. Climbers would be great up the back fence and on the screening there. Does the back fence get any sun at all, I'm thinking it faces east? With raised beds the soil should be pretty good, have you dug in any compost, manure etc.?

    Sorry about the questions but they are all relevant at this point. :)
     
  3. PlantPlots

    PlantPlots Gardener

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    For someone who say's they don't know much about gardening - very chic and sleek so far!. So plants, what to do?
    The back fence and it's trellis look a little too flimsy to hold the weight of climbers very well, you should really look a creating your main focal point there. The planters on the sides draw your eye along to the back fence, so when you look there - there should be something worth looking at. I would either put 2 large pots with a beautiful specimen trees in. Acers are always beautiful to look at and it should be protected from the wind enough there, in between well maybe a piece of art, something on a plinth but something modern and sleek looking to match the feel of the garden.

    In terms of planting, the garden is thoroughly modern in design and is very clean, so you can either compliment or contrast. So complimentary would be evergreens and a muted colour palette greens and whites and silvers use, Yew (only if your dog is NOT a bark chewer though as it's poisonous), Box, Sarcococca down both sides and interplant with white flowered bulbs, alliums, tulips, iris, gladioli callianthus and snowdrops. Keep the evergreen clipped and sharp shapes. Or contrast and go with lots of movement to counteract the solid beds and straight lines. So think, grasses, poss bamboos (if you're keen on them), add tall flowering plants, poss cimicifuga, anemone japonica, gaura, gypsophilia, again lots of bulbs to flower at different times. If white is not your thing, then choose only 2 colours for flowers and stick with those.

    Well done though it looks really lovely and the artificial grass was your best option.:spinning:
     
  4. Ian W

    Ian W Apprentice Gardener

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    Thanks for the reply Sheal, sorry I am a little delayed in my reply, i've been traveling!

    The garden is west facing so the back fence gets a bit of sun earlier in the day. I was thinking i might let ivy from the back grow over the top of it. This had been there previously but i had to cut that back to string fairy lights across the back (girlfriend's idea) for in the evenings.

    I've done nothing to the soil in the raised beds. I could definitely dig in a bit of compost before any planting. Is any particular type recommended?
     
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    • Ian W

      Ian W Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks for the ideas Plant Pots! I feel the same about the fence at the back. Don't think it would take much weight. I've just strung fairy lights all along the trellace at the back for the evenings (will try and upload a pic later when it's darker) and like the idea of either a couple of big pots or putting some feature 'art' in the middle.

      I've actually already got some bamboo in a large long planter along the side of the decking (you can't see it in my earlier pics). It looks like some has spread to the raised bed on the right as just came back from a week of hols to find some sprouts coming out of the bare earth! I guess that might be a nightmare to get rid of.

      I like the idea of going a bit more natural but staying with the muted colours (silver, green, white) and will do some googling on the plants you suggested tonight. On the whole, how do you think they'll get on with my whole half shaded/half sunny issue? Are there in any in particular that might help me out there? I'm guessing i'm going to have to deliberately try and plant in a more 'natural' non-symmetrical way in the two beds to counteract the likely difference in growth?

      Ian
       
    • Sheal

      Sheal Total Gardener

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      Yes, it would be best to get some compost dug into the beds, also well rotted horse manure if you can find that nearby, it's a good fertiliser. Local stables will quite often let you help yourself for free.

      How about something along the lines of this against your back fence. It doesn't have to be quite so ambitious but it would be ideal for climbers. :)

      https://www.google.com/search?q=arb...rvices%2FArboursTrellisesGazebos.html;560;264

      It's difficult to know what sort of plants to recommend you, there's so much choice. :) Your best bet is to take a look round local nurseries and see what you like the look of. You can study labels that will tell you the plants preferences and take note of anything you're not sure about so you can pick our brains here on GC. :biggrin: If you want shrubs or trees then I suggest you settle on those first as they will take up the major part of your beds. Remember to think about how far they spread though for spacing.
       
    • PlantPlots

      PlantPlots Gardener

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      Leigh, I hope you don't mind, but I have used your photos for a 'makeover of sorts'. I have used some bamboos to give you an idea - although you will need to ensure moist soils in the planter for them to thrive and hopefully you are sheltered from the wind otherwise they will shred. The yew, box and sarcococca will grow pretty well on both sides, so you could use them to create the symmetry and infill with shade loving plants on one side; japanese anemone, martagon lily and foxgloves for the shade and iris, grasses, and maybe cosmos for summer flowers on the right. Bulbs could be used both sides in spring too.
      I have also shown some hydrangeas (Annabelle) because they have lovely flowerheads and an image with 2 acers on the back fence, I would have used a green or variegated leaf, but I didn't have an image, hopefully you can see what they should look like though.
      Just a point though, I write a blog and have a website for garden design, would I have permission to use your photo on my website showing a before and after picture? Thanks

      urban symmetry 2.jpgurban symmetrical garden.jpg
       

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    • westwales

      westwales Gardener

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      Love what you've done so far Leigh and you have answered your own questions I think. With such a difference of conditions on each side of the garden you're always going to struggle if you try to develop symmetrical planting side to side. That doesn't mean you have to rip up your raised beds, just don't try mirror images.

      Permanent planting of trees or large shrubs in raised beds will mean that you will always need to keep en eye on feeding and watering, (a large shrub will use about a gallon of water a day) so think about that.

      If you do want some symmetry what about putting some plants in tubs on wheels so that you can move them from side to side regularly? You could consider creating two gardens; shade loving ornamentals on the one side with vegetables etc on the other? I think I would look for focal points on both sides (not opposite each other) to take the eye around the garden and not just up and down.
       
    • merleworld

      merleworld Total Gardener

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      Hydrangea, Rhododenrons, Camellias will provide structure at the back (for the shady side), then perennials like Heuchera, Digitalis (Foxgloves), Hostas would look good in the summer. Smaller shrubs such as Skimmia Japonica Rubella and Sarcococca Confusa would look good too.
       
    • Sian in Belgium

      Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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      Personally, because of the different growing conditions on the two sides, I would go for symmetrical colours, and try for balance of shape, height etc, but then enjoy the differences.

      Simple colours would help too, the problem with silver foliage is that you are limited for the shady side (at least I am struggling to think of some).
       
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