New home, first garden - what to grow/do?

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
775
Lancashire
We're planning on selling our terraced house to get a house with garden and garage. Not sold or bought yet but there's no harm in asking for advice.

What would you do after moving in? I've been recommended that on moving into a new house you wait for a year before doing much so you get to see what's in the ground yet to come up.

One possible house has three established trees of at least 30 it 40 years old. One on the edge of the property where it doesn't shade much but two are close together in the corner of the plot on the side that gets evening sun. They don't shade the house and side that much but there's a hard structured pond with a marsh edge to it. That's the side with sun I think. I like the idea of keeping that pond and marsh, perhaps do something with it because it's a bit tired.

The rest of the garden is lawn around the house with a few burgers containing vegetation that isn't much. The garden isn't wide around the house.

Basically I am really asking about more general advice about what to do with shade? What to start on? Whether to wait and see? How can you have child friendly play areas but grow things nice to look at and/or that are good to eat? I'd like to grow stuff to eat, son (7.5 years) wants football/tennis/cycling/messing around areas and my partner I have no idea what but probably sitting and eating out areas. We'll get a garden but it could be small. How can you manage competing requirements?

The example garden description I think shows a few issues from gardening issues like shade or established features that are impossible or difficult to move (trees have TPOs on them and pond is a solid build with limestone rock in abundance). The house we end up with could be this one or another with probably is own issues but likely similar too.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,120
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S. Lanarkshire
Every part of my garden is shaded at some large part of the day. We live in an end terrace house that sits cross wise to one in front and one behind, and right along side the entire gable wall and gardens is a woodland strip. The Sycamores out there are over 70' tall.

My garden is a little jungle :) it's a wildlife haven, and it's productive food wise too.

First photo....

and you can see just how muddy, page 4 of this thread

(sorry, I'm having real problems copying photos and posting on this new forum)

You learn what works in the area you have. You learn how to make it work for things you really want to grow.

I would agree to take a year, and actually see the year through the garden, see how it changes, and note it down. Take some photos, even if you only do it, say every Sunday, for a year, you'll see the difference like flicking through a book.

Gravel sound good, and it can be cheap, but weeds love it, and it's hard to walk or work on. Slabs or paving are better if you're likely to need a multi purpose surface. Playing, sitting round a summer table, working on diy, or even just setting up a chimnea or bbq.
Grass needs cutting, it needs the edges cared for, it needs clearing up after cutting, and in my case most of the year I can't walk on it because it's sodden wet.
You'll only find that out by living with it though, your's might well by dry :)

If it were me, I'd move in, clear around the doorways and paths so that there's a really easy tidy bit to do stuff, and just keep the rest neat until the year's out.
Then decide what you'd like to actually have in your garden and make it work for you.

Fruit wise, blackcurrants are easy in the UK, so are apples and raspberries. Gooseberries and loganberries are jaggy, rhubarb takes up a lot of room and needs feeding. Strawberries are lovely but a lot of bother one way and t'other. Cherries are superb :)
Even my shady garden manages all of those well.

Best of luck with it :)

M
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
775
Lancashire
Thanks. Cherries? Do they need a fair amount of sun?

My granddad had an apricot tree. It few for many years and never grew that big but one year it grew three fruits then nothing. Southampton and they used to get the best of UK summers I think.

I'm a big gooseberry fan, used to go scrumping for it, if that's not just used for apples. Every garden I visited with bushes I'd have to be kept away from as a kid. Loved reading them straight off the bush. Blackcurrants are nice but can need a bit of sugar. Grew up eating them but they were tart to say the least. My dad used to eat them without sweetening nobody knew how he could. Rhubarb is nice too. Reckon a shady area and lots of manure is enough for that. When I briefly had an allotment it had about 4 or 5 of them. They really produced a big crop. Strawberries I know are not an easy crop.

I reckon a corner of any garden we get will find a gooseberry bush appearing there. Raspberry canes might be a good call. Shop bought ones aren't really that nice, a bit patchy.

Share at times is a little different from shade all day long. I wonder what crop you can grow under all day long shade from trees?
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
775
Lancashire
One house we liked had a boundary with a path leading to communal woods. Currently it's got a hedge of bushes. That's no good for us because of dog and young child. I wonder if there's any restrictions to putting in fencing at the boundary? Possibly outside of the bushes, perhaps after moving them into the garden or removing them completely? The path is a bit lower than the garden so privacy would be possible with standard height, solid fence.

I've never had a garden so not sure what the rules over boundaries are.

Really I'm getting ahead of myself but looking forward towards being in our new home is relaxing considering I'm getting stressed a bit about making a really big step up the property ladder. Especially in the current climate.
 

santaman2000

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Jan 15, 2011
16,738
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Of course the scenario you brought up in the OP has logic (wait a year and see what you have already) Another direction more common here would be to decide what you want to do (plant or have, etc.) first and then shop for a house that’s suitable for it. Generally I’d prefer to decide just what I want in a house and garden then shop for vacant land to build both. Clue here=my next house will be built with the amenities needed to age in place (wider doors to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs, electric outlets placed higher than normal for the same reason, no steps or stairs, grab rails near toilet, shower, flat floor walk in shower, etc.) I know none of that is directly related to your OP, but the pint is the same either way: it’s often cheaper to look ahead and build for what you’ll grow into. That includes your garden.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,581
674
Canada
Attend to your rugged herbs, I think

You could plant a couple of patches of different chives, a rosemary, a couple of sages (being pretty), a tarragon, find a mint that you like (but contain it, or you'll have nothing but mint), thyme, oregano. Get some lavender. That's start, at least ... a trick for basil, when the time comes, is to keep an eye out in the supermarket or the garden centre for a large pot of basil that has seen better days and is therefore on sale. Then take it home and wash all the dirt off the roots of the plants and replant individually in compost in the garden. You'll have a forest of the stuff in a few weeks and the opportunity for pesto.

Later try sorel, vervaine, savory, dill, coriander. If you come across ramsons ever, dig a few up and find a dappled spot for them. Strawberries, raspberries.

Don't be afraid of buying the smaller cheaper plants. They'll grow and get pretty big in a year, maybe two ... and mint can get entirely out of hand over winter. But, the benefits of mint tea, ahh ... sod all this crap about CBD :)

If you have sun and kids, grow squashes, courgettes, pumpkins, peas, beans (runners are quick architecture, dwarfs taste better raw), tomatoes, radishes, chard, beetroot (for the leaves, really). The kids will scoff the lot. Corn too.

Oh, and geraniums (I love geraniums), easter roses, nasturtiums (capers) and marigolds. These help the other plants, some people think ... me too.

Keep it cheap and basic. :) You likely have things to experiment with in the kitchen already ... cumin, carraway, millet, sunflowers, sesame, for example.

Then you can discover the nuanced delights of geums and dwarf irises
 
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Toddy

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Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,120
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Thanks. Cherries? Do they need a fair amount of sun?

My granddad had an apricot tree. It few for many years and never grew that big but one year it grew three fruits then nothing. Southampton and they used to get the best of UK summers I think.

I'm a big gooseberry fan, used to go scrumping for it, if that's not just used for apples. Every garden I visited with bushes I'd have to be kept away from as a kid. Loved reading them straight off the bush. Blackcurrants are nice but can need a bit of sugar. Grew up eating them but they were tart to say the least. My dad used to eat them without sweetening nobody knew how he could. Rhubarb is nice too. Reckon a shady area and lots of manure is enough for that. When I briefly had an allotment it had about 4 or 5 of them. They really produced a big crop. Strawberries I know are not an easy crop.

I reckon a corner of any garden we get will find a gooseberry bush appearing there. Raspberry canes might be a good call. Shop bought ones aren't really that nice, a bit patchy.

Share at times is a little different from shade all day long. I wonder what crop you can grow under all day long shade from trees?


Blackcurrants I find are best made into NotJam and NotJelly.
We don't eat an awful lot of jam now, but if I make it into the same mixture, and just can it/jar it before it sets really firm, then it's easy to store and it mixes in with pieces of apple, any apple, and makes a really good crumble or strudel or even a bread and butter topped pudding. The NotJelly is brilliant as a kind of blackcurrant coulis, and it works really well on yoghurt, muesli, on cheesecake, etc.,
It can also be diluted down like a home made ribena.

Raspberries, I find the best ones are the Autumn fruiting ones. Mine are just putting out fruit now.
The thing is with them though is that you cut them back down every year, you don't need to fuss cutting out the old stems and hoping you've got enough new ones for next year. They're all taken down and the raspberries will grow up and fruit for a long time. It's not unknown for me still to be picking a handful at Christmas time. Also, because they don't over Winter as canes, they seem to be less prone to pests.

M
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,706
1,650
McBride, BC
I have a bush cherry here at 53N, on the west side of the house. Does not get sun until maybe 11-1130.
Wonderful fruit, fabulous jam. Takes two layers of bird netting to keep the GD fekkers off the fruit.
The variety is called "Scarlet Jewel."

What to grow? Small children are 100% compatible with carrots.
We have white, yellow, orange, red and several purple varieties of carrots for sale here.
The purple carrots with orange cores are the very best tasting carrots that I have ever eaten.

Stick in a couple of grape vines where they can see the sun for at least half the day.
Edible leaves (dolmades), edible fruit, jelly, jam, juice, wine. Two vines, 8' apart.
They grow up out of the way so you can plant other things at their feet.

I confess that I barter the grapes for onions, potatoes and carrots. I eat some but not much really.
 

Toddy

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Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,120
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S. Lanarkshire
It does in mine, but I have to keep it in a pot and put it into the greenhouse over Winter and Spring. It's not ideal climate for them.
It's the same with the olive.
 
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slowworm

Native
May 8, 2008
1,179
213
Devon
I'd start off by growing what you like. Something like a gooseberry bush can be fan trained against a fence so you don't loose room.

As for boundarys, unless there's something in your deeds then you should be able to replace shrubs with a fence. There may be other considerations such as being in a conservation area and, of course, not doing something your new neighbours wouldn't like.

TPO trees can be a pain, often the council will not be very helpful and you're likely to have people who will moan about any work done on the trees (people who don't have TPOed trees in their gardens). Probably best to assume the trees will stay and get bigger and will require work at your expense.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
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Lancashire
Estate agent reckoned is easy to get permission to cut back the TPOed trees. They certainly look like they had been managed. Big trunk but not a wide canopy spread. Not sure what tree species but whatever they were they didn't look a natural canopy spread.

I know someone who had a battle getting permission to cut down a fair few poplar trees that were rotten according to the council's tree expert and wouldn't stay up long. Got permission from council and just needed local parish council agreement which came. Then parish council member who missed the vote took offence and put in a complaint to main council. That led to the whole process being repeated and another stormy autumn/winter seasons where the trees swayed dramatically in the wind above a bus route and with houses within reach. However trimming back isn't chopping down so perhaps easier.

My granddad used to barter with a local market butcher. Tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruit/veg. He got meat joints, bacon and sausages. He was a good gardener and produced most of his fruit and veg. It was a bigger than typical family garden but the area still had to be productive. Took loads of gardener tricks to manage. He even managed to grow tomatoes from seeds. Actually seeds from very nice tomatoes they'd eaten in a Spanish hotel. He took them home and grew them successfully. He always kept the seeds from each year for the next. Although he also grew grafted tomato plants too.

The fruit jars sounds nice. My partner lived in eastern Europe for a couple of years and their thing is putting fruit and veg into jars for storage. Then they simply take the veg and cook it like fresh. It's their rural way of preserving produce for when they're out of season. I think that's a mainland Europe thing because I've seen veg in jars being sold in supermarkets in Netherlands, Belgium and France. That's not common over here for some reason. It probably used to be once.
 
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SaraR

Full Member
Mar 25, 2017
642
394
Ceredigion
See what comes up when in your first year and how you actually use/want to use the garden after living in it for a while, THEN start doing any big changes. You can use big planters/pots for bringing in some flowers, herbs and fruits in the meantime and you don't end up digging up all the bulbs or with your new patio in the "wrong" corner of the garden etc.

One option for the bush border is to put a fence on the inside of the bushes. Looks nice from either side and keeps the dog in. Solid fences can look quite hard and imposing especially from below, whereas a hedge is softer while still providing a good screen.
 
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Erbswurst

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Mar 5, 2018
2,081
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Berlin
I recommend to set berries in the correct distances between the bushes around the garden. They don't make to much work.

I recommend to put on the same level as the earth a small straight way with concrete tiles or bricks, between berries and lawn, so you can cut the lawn with the mover two wheels on the way, two on the lawn. That saves a lot of work over the years.

If you want to plant apple trees you have to know that you can't combine every sort. You should buy them from a real specialist in the area, even if they cost the double or triple price. He will tell you what to combine and to set it in which distances. Good trees cost money.
Cheap hardware shop trees are not worth a penny. That's as if you would buy a dog with only three legs.

It's a sensible idea to get out which is the best British book about organic gardening and to start reading it next winter.
I could only recommend to you German literature.

If you want to grow vegetables you have to put them on the most sunny ground you have. Even if you like that idea plan also to put a lawn over this part, if in your age you haven't the force any more.

I recommend to grow exclusively plants which really belong to and grow in your area. And not to mess around with flower pots and foreign plants. That's a lot of work and often disappointing in the end.

The best would be to find an organic farmer in your area and to ask him what he recommends to grow.

If you want to grow vegetables you need minimum 8 equal large parts of land where you can rotate every year the fruit families like a paternoster to avoid illnesses. This parts have to be fix for decades. Don't put concrete ways between but stones in the corners to find the borders next year.

You have to know which plant should follow which plant on the parts and which neighbourhoods are recommended and which aren't. You have to know that before you start if you don't want a complete disaster in the end. And don't throw the earth from one part onto the other! You would transport the ilnesses.

To avoid them you need to follow a strict order.

As you see that's pretty scientific and that's why you need the best book or books before you start with vegetables. In Germany we learn this profession over three years or study it at universities. Hobby gardeners need to know a basic frame, even if they don't really understand what's going on exactly.

If that seems to stressy, just grow berries and apples trees. Thats easy and nearly no work and you can expect best results, because especially the berries grow like weeds, because the garden plants are domesticated forms of wild European plants. You just need the best book about how to cut them correctly and Felco scissors to do it and a folding saw like the Silky, Fiskars, Opinel or Bahco like bushcrafters carry them around.

If you plant the bushes in the recommended distances you don't need a person to look after your Garden if you are in Holydays, if they are a bit older.

Instead of buying flowers you should ask the old neighbours to gift you a bit of those which grow like weeds.

Whith this system you will get the best results.
 
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