MichelleB
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Garden design advice for a flat expanse of yard?

We are novice gardeners who have just moved into a newly built home with a blank canvas for a garden. (Just earth, not even any grass). We would love to design it ourselves, but are looking for some pointers to make sure we start off in the right direction.
Although most garden design web articles and books that we have reviewed seem to tackle the problem of long, thin gardens, we have the opposite problem, in that our garden is very wide, but not very deep (22metres wide by 14 metres deep).

How can we best design the garden to make it appear narrower and deeper than it actually is? The garden is completely flat and gets sun all day long. It is surrounded by a wire mesh fence, but through the fence we have uninterrupted views over open fields.
Any advice would be appreciated.

*dim*
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post some photos, and it will be easier for us to visualize the area and give you some suggestions ....

We also need to know which area/zone you are situated in
Spend sixpence on the plant but a shilling on the hole - Anon

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rainbowgardener
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14 meters isn't all that shallow. You have a nice amount of space. It sounds like your main problem is how to make it interesting, a flat expanse of nothing is very boring.

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Even though it is a nice house and there are trees around the edge, all that flat grass monoculture, is a boring waste of space, unless you happen to need a soccer field.

So to start with think about things you might like to do with your front yard, and to grow in it. Would it be nice to have a little seating area to sit with a book and look over the fields? Would you like to attract birds? I presume there are front windows that look out over the yard. Think about the view from the windows and what you would like it to look like. Do you like flowers? Any particular kinds?

Look for pictures that inspire you.

Start by putting in hardscape, like walkways to the front door, etc. Choose materials carefully because you will be stuck with them for a long time. You want something that goes with the style of your house and the style of the garden you would like (e.g. loose, informal, rustic vs formal and structured).


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This would be the time to think about arches, arbors, benches, fountain, paths to any of that.

Then you would do trees and shrubbery. You want a gradual transition from grass/ low flowers, to shrubs, to trees. If you do the trees and shrubbery mostly along the the sides that will balance the proportions.

Think about maybe sinking a little pond /water feature at one point, and building up a mound planting island somewhere else to counteract the flatness. Put some things in big containers.

Think about your front yard as several different areas/ spaces / rooms and plan it so you can't see it all in a glance and some things are hidden.


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just some ideas to get you started!

(And remember this is a project that will go on for a long time and just get more beautiful each year. Be patient!)
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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rainbowgardener
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And be sure you check out the landscaping section of Marlingardener's website :)

https://www.rgf-tx.com/Landscaping.html
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

imafan26
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You have gotten some very good advice.

Think also about maintenance. Irrigation system, pruning, weeding, mowing around beds.

Make a list of what you want to use the garden for.
Views from the house, attracting or discouraging wildlife, play areas, outdoor entertaining, screening, water feature, pathways, summer shading, special plant collections, etc.

Decide on a style that is appropriate for the style of the house.

Plan it on paper and live with it for awhile. Collect pictures of gardens that you like and roam around and check out plants or gardens that you like.

Before you plant, do some research to make sure what you choose will grow well for you, be maintainable and won't cause issues down the line.

Consider a master plan and build the garden gradually, but allow for flexibility as your needs may change.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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This is the way that I do it ...

Firstly, .... Never rush ....

start off with planning your beds on the perimiters .... draw this to scale on a drawing board, or on 3D CAD

have a look at other gardens in your area and see which plants/shrubs you fancy, and which plants thrive in your climate conditions ....

Check which way the wind blows, and check which new proposed beds will receive sun/shade

decide what hard landscaping needs doing (ponds/patios/decking etc)

start off with planning the backbone plants / shrubs (evergreen) .... space them so that the garden will always look full, even during winter ... prepare the planting beds properly, by adding lots of compost/well rotted organic manure, and do a ph test of your soil ...

wait till the soil temperature reaches 6 degreec C, then decide if you are going to seed the lawn, or lay sod ... prepare the soil well by rotivating and adding compost etc ... if seeding, check which different types of lawn seed are avaiable for your area, and choose one that suits you best

then start adding plants for fragrance, but try and include fragrant plants that will bloom at different times of the year, thus creating a pleasant smell, especially in key areas such as close to the house, or by the BBQ or patio

Then start adding in plants for colour .... there are many that have coloured leaves/foliage throughout the year such as heuchera .... plant then in mass and use contrasting colours (such as reds and yellows)

Basically, what you are doing when creating a garden, is space management (utilizing space to the maximum) ... aswell as time management (it does not help if all the plants bloom in june/july, then have no flowers for the other 10 months of the year)

if you are planning a cottage style garden, beds will be deep, as you need to plant several different perennials in mass, so that there will be colour in the beds/areas for most of the year... this can be expensive, as you will need many .... you can cut costs by adding some hardy exotic/tropical style shrubs that take up lots of space (such as musa basjoo, trachycarpus palms , gunnera, large hostas etc, but make sure that they are suited for your climate zone)

ask many questions on forums such as this and you will get lots of advice and suggestions .... take your time, as you may change your mind several times (plants are expensive) .... and shop around, many bargains can be found on sites such as ebay
Spend sixpence on the plant but a shilling on the hole - Anon

MichelleB
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To everyone who has replied to my post:

Many thanks for the really useful comments and advice. We will surely make use of them in our designs.

As one member asked me to post some photos, I am attaching a few. I am not sure how to make them bigger, but I guess you get the idea!

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This is from the West corner, and the following one is from the south

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As you can see, the plot is extremely flat and uninteresting!

I am also attaching a couple of pictures looking away from the house, so that you can get an idea of the view

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The one above is looking west from the patio, and the following is looking south west from the patio.

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All being well, we will update photos as the project progresses.

Finally for today, I wanted to let you know our location - we are in North West France, where Germany, Switzerland and France meet.

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rainbowgardener
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Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Paste in the Forum link you find under Embed this image.

Is this the back of the house? Where is the front door?
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

*dim*
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Image

it's just a pretty picture .... :wink:
Spend sixpence on the plant but a shilling on the hole - Anon

MichelleB
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Yes, all the photos show the back of the house. The front door is round the other side with no real garden to speak of. We are just going to get it paved and have a few plants in pots to brighten it up (gets very little sun). Generally in France that is how things work - you get your garden at the back.

I like the Porsche by the way - does that get included in the package if I ask a landscaper to design the garden....?

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rainbowgardener
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OK for some reason I was thinking front yard. That doesn't particularly change anything I said, except make it more important that you start with really thinking about how you want to use the space. Do you want a table/seating for al fresco dining? Do you want a grill/ mini-kitchen? Do you have kids and want a play space? Do you want a veggie garden? (Think about putting some herbs in the containers up front!)

If those are sliding doors, then you probably want to put some kind of patio/ deck/ paving in front of them, even if it is just like a sidewalk strip. Just to give you a safe landing spot in case of mud and a place to wipe your feet so you don't track mud back in.

Do think about putting in a birdbath/fountain/water feature somewhere (that could be in the front) and some bird feeders.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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