For me, the garden is an extension of the house. And it’s my favourite room.
So here’s how we made it.
When we moved in, the back garden was a blank canvas. The top decking was there, a little broken shed, and the rest was sloping grass all the way to the end. What it lacked in plants, it made up for in potential.
We did a fair amount of planning. And by that, I mean time spent thinking about how we’d use the space. It’s fair to say two years on, things are constantly changing in the garden – plants frequently get moved to spots they prefer or to avoid being trampled by the dog. But the way we use the garden, and therefore the way we broke it up into separate spaces hasn’t changed. In my mind through doing so we added five extra rooms to our house:
*Room one. The top decking area with seating. This is where we sit with wine in the evening, or where we entertain friends.
*Room two. The big flower beds and the gravel path. We’ve popped a couple of little chairs here as I like to sit with my coffee by the flowers. (Simple things!)
*Room three: The patio, where the table and chairs are to eat outside.
*Room four: The lawn and flower beds.
*Room five: Affectionately called the bottom of the garden, this is probably where I spend most of my time! There are lots of areas to this bit – the greenhouse, the pond, the shed, but mainly the chickens. Their coop and run are here, and they’re left to free range this area all day.
So here’s how it looked when we moved in, two and a half years ago:
Essentially it’s long, thin and it wasn’t very attractive.
It’s hard to get a sense from those photos, but the whole garden sloped downwards. Once we decided on the separate spaces a major job was to flatten it.
It’s at this point I confess the landscaping was nothing to do with me. Other than making coffee/bringing beer when necessary. We absolutely wouldn’t have been able to create our garden without Tom’s dad, Bill. (If you’re reading this Bill, you’re a legend).
With Tom, he worked to move earth from the bottom of the garden to the top, and then built a wall so we had two levels. We wanted to have huge flower beds at the top of the garden – so when you sat at the top of the garden they were the main focus. But we also wanted to obscure the view to the lawn, to make the garden feel bigger. So
we (Tom and Bill) put up a trellis, so you had to look through to see the lawn. Despite sectioning it off, this instantly made the space bigger.
Steps run down to a patio where the table and chairs are, before the lawn.
I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve never been a huge fan of a lawn. (There I said it). But the garden is a shared space, and it’s Dylan our dog’s garden too. Plus the chickens like the grass, and children when they come around. Oh and it’s quite good for sunbathing and picnics. So in reflection it’s not that bad really!
Down the side of the garden was some very unpleasing concrete that couldn’t be moved as it was retaining wall for next door’s garden. So Bill (hero) spend time building raised beds down the side of the garden to enclose the concrete, and so we can grow things. A lot of the wood was either bought cheaply from the reclamation yard or salvaged in the same rescue mission as the allotment wood. This left side has caused us many challenges as it’s the side of the garden in the most shade, but more on that another time!
On the right hand side
we (Tom and Bill) built another bed, which you can see through the arch in the trellis. Getting turf was a very exciting day – it’s a difference what a bit of green can do. At last, something I can say I helped with – laying turf.
Once this area was done, we moved on to the bottom of the garden. Once again a lot of landscaping had to be done – more praise for Bill.
I had decided to section this area off with a picket fence. I wanted the chickens to be out and about all day but wanted a clear area so a) they wouldn’t eat young plants I’d just put in and b) we could separate the dog and chickens. This was a very good decision.
We really wanted a pond to attract wildlife, and so the bottom of the area was destined to have many different parts.