Bringing a new garden to life
With several new home development sites in the Penrith area, there are plenty of people needing to add personality to their garden in the coming months. Story Homes alone have two sites, one at Clifton and one at Kirkby Stephen, with more than 100 new homes between them.
As Liz explains: “A developer will usually leave the plots with a ready-to-use garden, back and front – a lawn, paving and fencing – but I’ve worked with clients in the past who were looking for ways to personalise that space and make it their own as quickly as possible.”
The first priority is to check the soil quality and add plenty of compost as well as creating a composting area or adding a compost bin so that you have it available for future use. The builder will usually leave you with a layer of top soil but, if you have plans for the garden, it is worth investing in soil improver from the outset. There are plenty of peat-free options and I’ve used Keith Singleton’s ‘Just Naturally Plus’ (available from local garden centres ) in the past to give the soil an immediate boost as well as more nutrients in the longer term.
The next thing to tackle is adding height to a flat space. Planting a few climbers and adding supports or trellis to the fence will make a difference but you can also paint the fence or add an outdoor mirror and an archway to frame it, creating an impression of space beyond the boundary. Willow and wooden structures can create height in the garden other than at the sides and are a good addition if you take out some of the turf and create bigger or more beds for planting. I’d also recommend planting a tree – something like a Sorbus vilmorinii or an Amelanchier lamarckii that won’t threaten your foundations with its roots or grow too tall but will give the garden structure all year around. But it is worth checking any convenants or agreements about boundaries or maximum heights before planting.
Additions to the garden can also create virtual boundaries for your new home. I recommend planting shrubs with spikes such as Berberis and Ilex (holly) as a deterrent for people and animals to use your open front garden as a cut through or a pathway.
Finally, Liz is keen to encourage new gardeners to encourage wildlife into their new gardens. There are lots of opportunities to attract birds and insects into even a small and very new garden. Put up bird feeders and a bird table, perhaps even add a nesting box or three to a fence – the Birds’ Bistro at Penruddock has an amazing selection. And look out for some of the bug houses on the market and plant shrubs such as buddleia to encourage butterflies, bees and other insects. Then you’ll really be bringing your new garden to life!