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Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

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Question from Angela Graham

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I have just joined Shoot and recently moved house and I have this small north facing,part shady, clay soil back garden on three levels.I have a small patio and a very small rectangular piece of garden roughly 5m by 4m on the topmost level which I am trying to make into attractive planted area. The soil is alkaline and wet during the winter months and it goes rock hard during a hot,dry spell.I know I need to make the soil more manageable. I wonder if anyone else has a small garden with similar conditions to mine and how they have dealt with it?

  • Views: 1448
  • Replies: 6
  • Posted: Mon. 10th March 2014 13:57

Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Nicola

Hi Angela, our 'Plant Search' allows you filter for plants for shade and damp

Please visit Plant Search for more selections.

I hope that helps. When you find the right plants please add to your lists in Shoot to get care advice reminders.

I hope you enjoy Shoot!
Nicola

  • Posted: Tue. 11th March 2014 10:50

Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Clockhouse Nursery

Soil improvement can be a long job that requires time and patience, especially where a lot of clay is the problem. Dig in plenty of organic matter such as compost, composted bark, peat etc. In my experience this is an on-going task as clay eventually starts to win the battle if you ease up with your defence.
So cheat ! Why not use open bottomed raised beds. That way you can provide good quality planting media above the rough stuff. Troughs or pots could work in the same way. They also would be freely drained and as we are not talking about acres & acres you should be able to keep up with watering when required.
However, you may well find that the plants will cope ok with the ground available if you use this simple method. When you plant, dig a hole...double, if not a bit more than double...the size of the pot (width & depth). Put plenty of good quality planting media under and around the root ball. Lots of plants cope just fine with clay, as long as they have a chance for their roots to spread before they hit it. Taking a plant out of a pot and squeezing it into a clay lined hole of about the same size, is just like putting it into another pot. This is often where problems occur.

  • Posted: Tue. 11th March 2014 13:04

Re: Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Angela Graham

Hi there,
Many thanks for your helpful advice. Yesterday, I dug in some wood chippings (care of the nearby railway embankment tree men!!) and two big sacks of horticultural grit. This has helped to break up some of the big lumps of clay and the continuing dry weather we have had,has also helped to break up the clay. I have noticed just how many worms are in this small area of soil and I am hopeful that they will also do a good job! I have put wire cages around my exisitng phlox plants to protect the small shoots from my pet rabbits.

Re: Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

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  • Posted: Thu. 13th March 2014 09:44

Re: Re: Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Angela Graham

I have now put down my circular slabs so that I can access the garden for weeding etc, as it becomes necessary. The continuing dry sunny weather is helping me to break up the lumps of clay. It was 2pm when this photo was taken and as you can see the sun does not reach most of this dug up area. I want to put in a small Japanese acer,that is alkaline soil and partial shade tolerant on the near right hand corner of the garden. It must be a small tree because anything large or lofty is going to look out of place.I like the orangy red tones they have in the autumn and the dissected leaf shapes are beautiful. Any suggestion as to which ones might work in a space like this?

Re: Re: Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

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  • Posted: Sun. 16th March 2014 13:58

Re: Re: Re: Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Angela Graham

I have bought an acer palmatum for my small patch of north facing garden. It is a popular one and quite a common one - 'Katsura'. A fairly slow growing one with leaf interest in all seasons,except winter. It likes partial shade and I can keep it in a compact shape as it grows larger,so I am pleased with that! The soil is probably not ideal for it,but I have dug in some leaf compost etc before planting it. Along with that I have now planted some slow growing dwarf type conifers Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana' Snow White' and 'Summer Snow' and 'Silver Threads' along with Juniper X Media 'Old Gold'. So the 'bare bones' of my planting is more or less complete. There is quite a lot more to do yet.

  • Posted: Fri. 21st March 2014 10:50

Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

Reply from Angela Graham

Well, my garden progresses. Actually, I have more sun on the area than I thought. During the winter months the sun seems to completely miss the small garden,but now we are approaching midsummer,it gets part sun for most of the day. The soil has improved after putting in horticultural grit etc and is more manageable. Sun loving plants are still making slow progress,however,due to the unwanted attentions of my pet rabbits. Every new planting has to be protected from them,which makes my garden look as if it is full of wire cages and brick barriers. Not a good look,by any stretch of the imagination!! I have done better with plants for the fencing. The clematis Duchess of Wessex has done really well. I have honeysuckle,growing,too,although that has been rather slow to get going. I have also planted some small evergreens,which seem to be happy enough.

Re: Small damp,part shady,north facing back garden!!

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  • Posted: Sun. 15th June 2014 08:14