Ok, so we moved here in January 2010, but i was pregnant, had DD2 in June and then recovered/had a baby to deal with so this is really the first year i'll be able to do anything with the gardens.
I'm in *******, Scotland, UK, in a high (above sea level) but waterlogged (due to not being in the highest bit of the hill we're on) patch. The house faces roughly North with the front garden to the north and the back gardens to the south. The previous owners were here 15 years and did not do anything to the gardens except to plant a whole lot of alpine type shrubs in order to tart up the garden and sell the house - most of these have now drowned in our very wet soil.
The front is probably 30 feet wide and 20 long, with a third being given over to parking. It currently has a small lawn with a largeish pampas grass in the corner, and a bed running down the opposite side and around the corner with a few scrubby bushes and one established rose in it.
So far i have pruned the rose right back (it was getting dangerous to get in and out of the car) and cut off the dead seed heads of the pampas. I've pulled out a few dead little bushes, and need to dig out 2 (barely) living ones and one totally dead one in the next few weeks. I am sort of planning a rockery made of old tyres (like this) in the bed, but i might do it next year as i want to get some fruits and veggies going in the back garden first.
My questions regarding the front are:
What am i supposed to do about pampas with a lot of dead overgrowth in the centre and a ring of living but kind of sad looking growth round the outside? I have read recently that i should trim it to a foot high and burn it (not now, last month, so it'll need to wait!). Is that right? I am perfectly willing to do it, anything would be better than the state it's in just now. In anticipation of burning it this coming winter should i feed it this year? I'm amazed it's surviving where it is as the garden is SO SO wet and waterlogged.
My main thinking of the rockery is that it will allow me to raise the soil level and control the drainage a bit better, and will look better than the flat little semicircle of wet claggy soil and drowned plants! I'm wondering if i can do this job slowly over the summer though...? Right now i'm feeling overwhelmed with the work which needs to be done in the back to get some veggies up this year, but i do realise once we're into mid summer the veggies will only need light maintenance and i'll have time, but will that mean i kill the plants by moving them/planting them out mid growing-season?
I'll be back to talk about the other gardens soon!
Many many TIA!
Those tyre planters are very cool! I'd never seen anything like that.
I don't have a lot of advice for you because I'm not a very good gardener. I will say this though, when we moved in here 2.5 years ago the landscaping had been neglected. In hindsight, I tried to do too much that first year and wasted a lot of time and money because I really didn't yet know the exact sun conditions and such. If I had to do it over again, that first year I would have just concentrated on clearing out the dead stuff and cutting back everything that was overgrown. I wouldn't have added anything until the 2nd year except some large pots of colorful annuals.
I think if you have a suitable place for vegetable plants you should go for it. For the rest I'd concentrate on clearing out, trimming and figuring out what you have and do some research about what will work best. Depending on what you want to add, the end of the season can be a great time for planting and everything is on clearance.
I'm now going into my third summer here and I only have one bed that is complete. I do have another that should be complete this year. But, I've done a ton of clearing out, a ton of cutting back and things look MUCH better. I've also learned, through expensive trial and error, that I can't do everything I want because of soil/sun conditions so I'm figuring out how to work around it.
Good luck! You should take before pictures. I didn't and I wish I would have.
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