Creating a Garden from Scratch

bare gardenA blank canvass can seem daunting, but offers limitless possibilities

Creating a garden from scratch can be a daunting prospect, but on the other hand, having a blank canvass to start from can also be a blessing.

Recently I moved into a new house in Rutland. The location should be some clue that this little plot, with its ten by ten metre west facing garden, made such a dent in my savings that nothing was left to spend on my garden.

Gardening on a Budget

I'm sure many others share my predicament. That's why I've decided to share my experiences of developing a garden almost from scratch on heavy clay soil and a meagre budget. With a little luck, I'll capture your imagination and hear from you about how you have managed to create your own little slice of Eden without spending all your money!

As I stood on the very first patch of earth I ever owned (pictured) it was hard to imagine what I could do with a space overlooked from every corner by several neighbouring properties. What is more, the soil was overrun with weeds, the lawn looked like an unwanted relative had been buried there and my tool shed was made of asbestos. Need I say more?

It was standing there that I began to use the gardener's most important tool: their imagination. Visualising an outcome is a useful tool in many walks of life and none more so than when planning a new garden. As the garden develops it pays to determine how the flora will look and the impact that they will have on light levels and the plants around them. A good imagination also helps overcome nerves about making bold changes such as the layout of your garden.

Visualising the garden as you would like it plays second fiddle to one key thing: getting to know it as it is. Although I cleared a patch, dug it over and planted marrow seedlings before I had even unpacked my suitcase (free marrows all summer was more important than fixing the gas leak but don't try this at home) this was the limit of my gardening efforts for the next 3 months.

Away on business, I could only return once a week to water and admire the effects of rich clay on my rapidly growing marrow plants. I discovered that some Jurassic looking rhubarb was well established in the top right corner and that the previous owner of the house had left me some well selected plants.

Get to Know Your Garden

Over the course of these few months I observed another critical element for any gardener, the movement of the sun and the position of light and shade in the garden. This would prove more important even than soil quality or acidity as time went by because it would determine the layout of my new garden and the position of the inhabitants within it.

In short, not rushing into my garden helped me to see exactly what I had to work with and to develop a picture of what could go where. So that's my first piece of advice to my pauper peers. Don't rush to begin with. Sit back, relax and visualise.

This article was written by Joe Munford.


Filed under Garden Design.

Share this page…