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Intimidating …

I have a new project. It’s extremely intimidating. Let me share …

In November last year My daughter and her partner took ownership of a house they bought, in the same block around the corner, from my home. It’s a fabulous area* and they bought at a great price. Reason the price was so great is the house on the property was so neglected it required extensive work. It was in fact uninhabitable and the garden was so overrun with weed and overgrown neglected plants that we had to chop back creepers to get into the house. Really. It was so bad I can’t describe it adequately, I will have to show photos some time. They bought the house for the area and the amazing view of the mountain from the property.

Long story short, the existing wreck of a house got demolished, a new one was built and they now have a beautiful new home, situated in a mess of a “will-be-garden-some-day”. I’d like to add to the story that these two built the house themselves. They designed the house (no architect involved), got it approved by Council, then gathered a small crew consisting of a bricklayer and three labourers and proceeded to build themselves a beautiful home. (At one stage my little girl was mixing concrete and laying foundations … I have the photos to prove it :)). The end result is a an impressive house and I am incredibly proud of what they accomplished. (If our readers are interested, I will show the house – leave a comment if you’d like me to show and I’ll do a photo post soon).

So being the avid gardener that I am, I somehow got myself roped into ‘doing the garden’. No problem I thought. How hard can it be? Filled with enthusiasm, Lovely Daughter and I spent last weekend planning and discussing and then went to photograph the area. What you will see on these photos is only the mess I have to work with. You won’t see the beautiful house they built – all you will see is the most intimidating project I’ve ever taken on. Seriously. Looking at the photos I am tempted to call in a garden designer and pay the big bucks to let someone else start it off for us. Unfortunately having just built a house there is no budget for fancy garden designers, so LD and I will have to work through this, one step at a time.

Please tell me this is not intimidating?

Front of the property (seen from above patio) – From left to right

Front of the property (seen from above patio) - Far left

Front of the property (seen from above patio) - Still far left

Front centre

Centre and right

The driveway area to the garage (note the bare soil area against the wall)

The left, driveway

End of driveway to garage

The back enclosed yard / garden area:

Back yard area

What a mess

Last shot ...

So would you tackle this yourself or call in help?

*Two excellent schools in walking distance, a lovely family neighbourhood … I’m praying for the pitter-patter of little feet in a few years time xxx

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

19 replies on “Intimidating …”

Chris, I think there is so much help here, you will be more than supported by all your gardening buddies! 🙂 I like the idea of a designer giving you a blue print and then you tackle the actual design and planting yourself. I am there in a wink of an eye 😉

It’s a completely blank slate! How exciting! That said it is a big project; I know that there are lots of design your garden websites out there, try googling around? You can input your plot and plans and play around with designs and whatnot.
Good luck and enjoy!!

I have a friend who is an incredible landscape designer, very good with the big picture. Even though I can design, I always get her to stop by and look over bigger projects and my garden is much better because of her ideas. If you know someone like that, I would have them look it over while you record their ideas even if only for an hour. They could do a concept drawing just with bubbles not a plan. I would like to see before photos of the house and garden.

Any new large project is intimidating…but the cleared area is a clean slate to start dreaming about…with time, pinning down ideas, studying the site and lots of good soil and you will make this a masterpiece.

Mine was a blank slate but I had ideas of what I wanted for the bones and structure…I would love to see the house before and after.

Oh that isnt as bad as I was expecting. The site is at least cleared of weeds etc and you have a blank canvas. How exciting and how proud you must be of your daugher what an achievement and vision

Do the new homeowners want an instant oasis, or are they content with letting the garden take a few years to be built? Are they (or do they want to become) gardeners, or is low maintenance highest on their list for their garden?

First step: make sure the soil is well-prepared! In my garden that means adding organic material, and lots of it.

If you’re mainly concerned about the size of the areas to design, break them up. For instance in the front of the house, break that square into three or four separate gardens separated by paths: grasses in one, your amazing native bulbs in another, etc.

Find out if they have any favorite trees or large plants, and get those into the ground first and design around them. Don’t be afraid to use common (cheap) plants now, then replace them in a few years if desired. Likewise, use plants that spread quickly. You’ve got a lot of bare ground to cover and thuggish plants are good at that. Preferably choose the bullies that you know are easy to remove though.

Also, think of this garden as somewhat of an extension of your own — you now have tons more space to plant things that you don’t have room for! 🙂

Alan, the new owners want an instant oasis – but they realise that isn’t going to happen overnight. Low maintenance is going to be key for these two (says Mom, I know my child!!).

So we will break it up into bits as you suggest and just tackle one area at a time. First thing thats happening is the compost (enriching the soil), thats happening tomorrow Yay!!

I hadn’t thought of using quick spreading inexpensive fillers to start. Its a very good idea and I think thats going to be key, just to start things off and cover bare soil.

I might have to ask you for advice though – They both love Bamboo (especially him) and so I’d like to incorporate that somewhere. And the best part – it grows really well and quickly in this area.

First – yes I’d love to see the house – my favourite programme in the UK is ‘Grand Designs’ I expect yo have it there too.
The garden isn’t too large, of course I’d do it (but then my passion is designing gardens. Looking at what you’ve done in your garden you’re certainly capable of doing it plus if they can build a house a garden is easy. If you’d like some help I’d love to help at a distance, I’d need lots of photos, measurements and your daughter and her partner to annswer a lot of questions regarding the style they like and how they want to use the garden. Let me know. Christina (you can respond by email. Christina

Hi Christina – Yes they watch a British programme (maybe Grand designs, I’ll check) and have been wanting to build their own house for years – so it really is a dream realised. I will show photos of the house in the next two weeks or so – they are doing a lot of clearing and tiling this week and next and hopefully the pool will be ready soon too.

Your offer is incredibly generous and kind … we are so excited (Daughter & I). I am sending you a mail shortly – Thank you SO much!!

Christine – With a template of what you want to achieve, reckon maybe you should get in a landscaper to prepare / fix the soil and the damage that the building has done to it and address the possible lack of nutrients.

Thereafter – have a party – literally. Get a bunch of people / friends round for a housewarming, but make it a “garden warming”, and ask them to bring a plant (off your future plant list) and help plant it in the ground (in exchange for a braai and plenty of liquids LOL) And, of course, a dip in the pool if they start overheating…:)

I’m sure there are friends out there each with special interests i.e. into roses, indigenous, vegetables – so there would be plenty of projects that could be individually addressed.

And it would be a lovely different way to christen their new home.

Pics please 🙂

Hi Dani – the very first hing we’ve done is organised 10 ciubes of compost to be delivered tomorrow – as you so rightly say we need to fix that soil and I got a really good deal on the compost (worked out cheaper than a topsoil). So that’s happening first and then I’ve had rthe most amazing offer of design help, so we are going to try and tackle it ourselves. What really is the worst that can happen? We need to move a few plants later …

LOVE the party idea. Will suggest it 🙂

Of course I’d tackle it! It’s an awesome space, not overwhelmingly large, and it will be so much fun. No garden is instantly perfect–let it evolve and change and get better and better. Would love to see the house, too. How proud you must be of your daughter and her partner! Amazing effort on their part. After a house, a garden will be a snap!

Would I tackle this myself or call in help? For me, it would depend on her. Is she a perfectionist? Does she mind working sporadically? (Spastically? Psychotically?) 😉 If she is in for an adventure, I’d say go for it, if she wants things done once, and then done forever, or gets frustrated easily, I’d call in help.

Personally, I think it would be a blast for you to both work on it together. Figure out the style of garden she wants, draw up or photoshop some ideas, make a plan, and then start digging! I know you can do it, and what special memories you would be making. And of course we want to see the house! 🙂 Good luck!

Ah Holley, I think you are right. We will create lovely memories if Daughter and I do it together. She is a perfectionist which is why I am intimidated, but I think we are going to just dive in and tackle it, bit by bit. If we fail … well how bad can it be?

Going to get some photos in a week or so – lots of cleaning up happening this week, getting rid of rubble, laying tiles, pool coming on … almost ready for a photo session 🙂

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