Pauper's Blog on creating your own little paradise...cheaply

Part 3 - This week, the pauper considers landscaping.

In the first edition of the Pauper's Blog I talked about the importance of observing the garden as it is and visualising how it ought to be. The landscaping phase is one of the most striking in terms of bringing that vision to life.

With its lawn shaped like a burial mound and it’s frankly boring ‘four squares’ layout, my ten by ten metre garden was crying out for a total revamp. But what to do?

During the observation phase, the garden had spoken to me. I’d let my imagination run freely and I felt that a river theme had to be incorporated. If I tell you that I was raised on a diet of adventure stories, Huckleberry Finn on TV and canoeing on the Thames, I think you’d agree that that probably had something to do with. I always found water romantic and therapeutic. It spoke of a different world hidden round a bubbling, gurgling bend. However, with a small child and the experience of mosquitoes from our former home in Moscow, my wife made it clear that a pond was not an option. So I decided that I would try to recreate the image of water cascading round a corner, down ‘falls’ and then spreading serenely before the house. My medium would be grass.

I was helped in my decision to go vertical by a four by four metre raised patio left by the former occupier. One whack with a hammer told me that there’d been no Pauper style scrimping on the cement! So I decided to incorporate it. After all, most successful gardens will involve some kind of vertical structure as well as the more traditional horizontal focus. However, I couldn’t avoid spending an axe wielding afternoon cutting out a very misplaced wild rose that had been planted in the centre of this patio. Hmmm...

My ‘river’ would start on a small raised mound in the right hand corner of the garden furthest from the house, flow down and turn a corner over the raised patio (which would be cleared of stone and turfed) then drop down and spread out to create a functional lawn. Confident that my months of daydreaming had come to something, I set to work with gusto.

Being careful not to pile soil against the fences, I created the highest point of the garden as planned. The soil to do this was taken from the original lawn as I cut away the lump. Turf was reused to grass over the raised parts of the grass ‘river’ and the excess was turned over to provide the growing medium in new flower beds. The effect was quite good. The garden layout became vertically and horizontally dynamic in an afternoon. One could imagine the ‘river’ almost to be real. It conjured an image of a living landscape of hills and a river in my back garden. That is the joy of landscaping - fast results and food for the imagination... oh... and backache!

Now that I had decided more or less on the basic layout I could confirm that my patio would be moved to the sun trap just outside my back door. Before I’d lay the new patio, for which I had no money, I planted the seedling herbs given to me by Guru’s & Pauper’s folks. In the evenings now, when I am watering around my posh patio, I can enjoy the scent of established Rosemary, Thyme, Melissa, Curry Plant, Mint of various sorts and a little Lavender. Provided you got your planning right it’s best to get planting early on. Just as good cooking involves timing, plants take longer than landscaping so start early and they all come together at the last moment. Delicious!

Next time: the most important decision – what trees where...

Pictured: Site manager surveys the scene. String and free CDs discourage birds from gorging on new grass seed.

This article was written by Joe Munford.


Filed under Garden Design.

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