When you move home it’s not uncommon for the garden to have been neglected between viewing and completion. Add to that the other pressures and task of setting up your new home a few more months may go by with the garden getting any attention. By then it’s looking pretty sorry. That’s how we ended up with the task of refreshing this Cambourne garden with a new design.
What can you save?
A few mature plants in the garden can be a real bonus. So think twice before you dig everything up in your haste to get on with the landscaping, In this instance there were three nice establish Birches that just needed a trim and a few espallier apple trees. Only tow of the apple could be saved, they were very overgrown and misshapen. Once they were pruned back to the correct form the remaining ones turned out great. Of all the shrubs along the back fence only two or three were worth saving as there was a lack of variety and we wanted to introduce some new species.
It doesn’t have to be ‘Designer’
Practical space for a family is all that was required her for this family garden. To that end the design was kept to basics. A decent sized patio, near to the kitchen, for a dining table and chairs. Get rid of the slope and create a level lawn space for play and games. Finished of with some nice planting around the boundary to break up the fence line and and add some colour and interest. We also added a narrow pergola and low fence to divide the garden from the driveway.
Practicalities and budgets
In an ideal world the retaining walls used in the landscaping to create the level lawn would be brick or block, but this is an expensive item and can push projects above budget. So in this instance we used treated timber sleepers. They are not as permanent as brick or block but the short term savings are significant. When it becomes necessary to replace them you have the option of dropping new sleepers into place or upgrading to a more permanent structure.
It’s no secret that the soil in Cambourne is a heavy clay. When it’s wet it’s almost impossible to work with but, once you incorporate plenty of compost to open up the structure and encourage the worms to do their thing, clay can be one of the best soils to garden on. Clay soils hold onto nutrients better than other soils, keeping the in the topsoil where are are readily available to your plants. It also retains moisture which means you wont have to water as often, saving you time and money. Just take precautions to avoid compacting the soil again once it’s been prepared. Like keeping off it when it’s wet, this includes the lawn. Even better is to keep a few boards, 150cm x 45cm or so, and get into the habit of putting then down to stand or kneel on. That way you will always be spreading the load when you work in the beds and avoid compacting the soil.
Families grow and change, just like the garden
It’s a good idea when planning a new garden for your family, to think ahead. Todays play area could become tomorrows mini orchard. The bark chipped area for the trampoline might be rotavated into a veg plot. Maybe the climbing frame and swing set will be swapped out for a garden bar and fire pit. It may seen years off but a little thinking ahead will ensure that you design can be adapted better to anticipated future requirements. If you opt for a concrete base under the trampoline instead of bark chips, it will be a lot more costly to change into a veg garden!