After the grass had been mowed on shorter and shorter settings, and the dust had settled, it was time to start putting plans into action. After first looking around the garden, it was obvious (to some degree) what needed to happen.
Speaking as someone who hasn’t had much formal training in garden design, I’m at least aware that one of the fundamentals of garden design is to break up any large area into smaller, manageable sections, and to avoid creating a garden that is entirely visible from any one line of sight. When dealing with a garden like mine, which is very long and not especially wide, the best course of action is to cut it into sections, or areas.
This is the plan. So, to decide on how many sections, where each area began and ended, and what function each section would provide. Every garden should have function and purpose, even if that purpose is simply to be a wild flower meadow. An urban garden needs to be planned if it is to work well and make the most use of the space available.
When planning a garden, it should be measured out in length and width, and the angles of the terrain taken into account. Next up is aspect – which direction is North and South? To some extent, this will dictate what you can and can’t grow in a garden. Then, soil type; use a PH soil kit to test the PH of your soil. Again, this will very much dictate what plants will and will not grow. After taking into account these things, and any obstructions growing or present in and around your garden, a garden plan can be formulated. It doesn’t have to be a formal design, but anything written down is easier to adhere to and follow step-by-step.
I’m lucky. My new garden is South-West facing, with no nearby trees or buildings to obscure light, spread unwanted seeds or interfere with the growth of plants in my garden. So, the first step was to replace the cobbled-together mix of different fencing that lined one side of the garden (my boundary fence) when I moved in. This wasn’t cheap. I opted for lap panels, which are longer-lasting and more robust, with concrete gravel boards and posts. The length of the garden thirty panels! Here’s the fencing going in. It took a team of two people three days to build.
I don’t relish the idea of using concrete anywhere, so this wasn’t ideal. More importantly, this kind of fencing is partially responsible for the huge and worrying decline in British hedgehog numbers. They can’t move from garden to garden during their nightly forage for food, and so they now really struggle to survive in urban areas. This is to all gardeners’ detriment as well as the poor hogs; we rely on these small, nocturnal mammals to control pests such as slugs and snails, so creating such barriers to their vital movements is a very bad thing for the health of our gardens. In time, I will be looking to replace the concrete gravel boards with something sturdy but less of an obstacle to creatures trying to move from one garden to the next. Any ideas welcome!