The latest major project has been to clean up the garden, particularly the extension to the land we bought last November. We decided to have a big push over the last few weeks to get this landscaping work finished quite quickly, so afterwards we can just relax and enjoy the garden for the rest of the summer (or start further projects, which is more likely...).
|at the start of the works - digger levelling and clearing....|
|work in progress at the south end|
Although I titled this post 'DIY', there was a lot of digging works to be done and I'm not getting any younger, so there was just a little too much spadework initially. Therefore, we hired a guy with a mini-digger to first clear the south end - he also removed the five tree stumps that we'd cut down to ground level last year. When he'd finished at this end, we lifted the old metal shed off its flagstone base and relocated the flags next to the other shed at the south, and then re-erected the shed in its new position. This opened up the whole garden back to the house wall.
The digger man came back a few days later and dug over the rest of the land, including where the shed had been, to loosen the soil. He also supplied over six tons of fresh topsoil and then levelled the whole area to make it ready for planting.
One feature that now sits bang in the middle of the extended garden, and stands out like a sore thumb, is our 2,400 litre green plastic heating oil tank. It's way too much hassle to relocate this tank, so we decided to make a feature out of it and erected some wooden fence posts around three sides, to which we fixed a few battens and then eight cheap bamboo 6' x 2' trellises, £3 each from Tesco. The plan is to plant clematis, honeysuckle or other such climbers around the base in the autumn, to grow a screen which will completely conceal the tank, but in the meantime we put our peas in there - we'd started these from seed in the greenhouse a month before.
|screen around the oil tank, and the new|
plum tree in the foreground
At this stage we arranged some old stones we had lying around to form a curved border next to the pathway at the side of the house, in accordance with the wife's design, and also added an extra 'island' at the side of the new hedgeline. Then we laid some weed membrane and planted these areas out with two hundred quid's worth of new shrubs bought from a local garden centre.
We left some areas unplanted to fit some garden seats and also the water feature which the wife wants - I'll probably make this myself, so that's maybe one for a future post.
|planting the shrubs through the weed membrane|
Included in the plants we bought were a cherry tree and a plum tree, both around six-feet tall and with healthy new growth. After planting, the newly-enclosed areas were then covered with 20mm graded plum shale chippings - we bought two tons of this stuff and had it delivered - quite expensive at £180 in total. It's always tricky to get large trucks up the narrow lane to our house, because there's nowhere for long vehicles to turn when they get here - therefore, I had to guide the delivery driver out as he reversed all the way down the 400 m lane to the main road ...
|with all the slate chippings laid|
We spotted an auction on eBay for around 60 used concrete flagstones in a yorkstone pattern, in three sizes: more than twenty 600 x 600 mm, around thirty 600 x 300 and also nine 500 x 400 ovals. Although we own a few moulds to make the same sizes of york pattern squares and rectangles, casting them ourselves would have cost us around £1.80 and £1.00 each respectively in materials alone, and then there's several days of hard graft and a few weeks in total to mix, cast and cure 60 flags. We managed to win the auction lot for £55, i.e. less than £1 each, so it was a great bargain and we collected them in the car and trailer - luckily, they were only six or seven miles way.
We laid twelve of the square stones as an additional access path down to the sheds, and also made a narrow path from some of the 600 x 300s in a 'lazy-S' curve from the vehicle hardstanding area out to 'cherry-tree island'. This path also marks the extent of the lawned area and separates it from the vegetable patch to the north.
|getting there....note the 'island' and new Cherry tree|
|and the extended garden from the south....|
If you read our post from February on planting the bare-root hedges, you can see from the above two pictures that we've now got some new growth - they seem to be doing well enough and all 150 trees are showing signs of life, which is a relief.
The last stage of the landscaping was to seed the large area to be grassed. After a quick run over the land with the old petrol cultivator (another eBay purchase from last year), we raked over small areas at a time before scattering the seed - we'd bought a 5 kg sack of a hard-wearing lawn mix, and started sowing from the south end in around one-metre wide strips, working gradually northwards. The sowing process was quite time-consuming and was completed over two days. We sowed at around 40 grammes per square metre, measuring out on the kitchen scales for each row.
|marked out to start sowing the grass seed|
|half-finished, enough for one day...|
We used some more of the old flagstones near the gate to make a hardstanding area for the rubbish bins (trash cans).
|still work in progress with this hardstanding area....|
It's now just a case of removing all the rubbish lying around garden, and generally tidying everything up. Oh, and we ordered an apricot tree yesterday, to add to our fruit production in future years.
All in all, we're very pleased with the results of our hard work. Total costs ? Well, with the new greenhouse construction we've spend £1,863 so far in 2013 on the garden....
We'll post an update in a few months at which time (hopefully) the new lawn will be well established.
Here's a couple of recent photos of the garden...
|all looking very green - note the new|
pathway all alongside the hedge....
|and the new patio area we laid at the south end....|
great spot to catch the late evening sun