Gardens gone mad
With the recent rise in the Housing Property Market it seems like an ideal time to look at other aspects of a house purchase, that await one when the deed is finally completed, namely the garden. I have found through bitter experience that rarely if ever, a practical budget is ever discussed during the purchase, with the new owner. This is in many ways is understandable considering the cost one will have to lay out but somewhat naive. A garden can be a complicated undertaking especially if it is not in good running order, and even if has been maintained to high standard, it can be a major surprise the cost that will be needed to maintain order.
A recent survey in Britain gives an insight to what potentially lies ahead, a staggering 7.4 million people claimed they never use their garden and 12 per cent never spend time in there garden, and would not want to show it to friends or family, as is had got completely out of control. This is due to complete neglect, a neglect, which may be inherited in a purchase.
If the point of no return has been reached, then this may be a blessing in disguise, as clearing the sight and identifying what needs to be kept may be more cost efficient in the long term. Trimming and tidying can get a lot of Shrubs and Trees back into shape, similar to when a radical Haircut is required, order can be restored quite promptly.
Chemicals may have to be resorted too for control of the weeds. I should declare that I am guilty on occasion of having to reluctantly go down this pathway, especially when clients, insist on it. It's not very PC for a good reason, Glyphosate based weed killer will get rid of the likes of brambles bindweed and elder. This is because it kills down to the roots. I rarely use chemicals in the garden, but sometimes needs must, as some weeds will grow back from leftover roots. Covering any plants and shrubs that are to be retained with a cover such as old carry bags for the duration of the spraying is the best course of action
It is important to understand that the delicate balance of the soil will be affected by chemical application and it is vital that this is restored, as that the soil will not be as efficient, and basically goes into a coma state. Good soil is imperative as it is the engine of the garden so an application of Soil Renew will need to be applied to restore the balance to the soil. This will get likes of microorganisms and worms working again, in simple terms they keep the engine of the garden working, this in turn will mean, healthier and therefore happier better plants trees lawns etc.
Once the size of the grassed area is decided rotovate the soil then rake through the soil to remove all the roots of weeds. If you go the healthy option and decide to use the fork then dig out as many roots out as possible then rake it level. Firm it well by walking it with your heels. Rake again until it's nice and even with fine soil surface and then it is seed if you have the patience, or use Roll On Lawn, which needs two ish weeks of no traffic al all plus careful watering. A descent lawn for the summer creates a level place to sit and eat and great for children to play on and is excellent at draining away heavy rain falls. Never Ever be tempted to patio the whole area this is a seriously short sighted decision that will return to haunt one during a Tropical Downpour that is not uncommon these days as the water will have no where to go except into the house.
Once the lawn is down you can organise the rest of your garden bounce ideas around, decide of you want to plant fruit, veg, shrubs, flowers, etc. It is very important not to buy all the plants on impulse on one Sunny Spring day as this can lead to you having a garden that will do all its blooming at the same time every year. This is a common error as one is mesmerised by the plants all in flower on the day. . Perhaps taking panoramic pictures of the garden throughout the first year you own it, at intervals to catch all four seasons. Snap these from both upstairs and downstairs windows looking out. Photos help you to pick out and remember good things and bad including plants that may be worth saving.
A renovation of the inherited shed that should be considered it will cost a lot less to renovate rather than replace it. If DIY is your thing then look to buying a second hand greenhouse there are quite a few online for sale. I sold one myself it took a bit of time and energy to take it down so instead of skipping it got a few quid and the purchaser was delighted, a few panes of glass will break and need to be replaced, but the savings are substantial.
Paths are essential to be part of the plan from the start and be seen as the bones of the garden leading to place that will be travelled a lot shed , clothes line, herb garden, deck and patio.
Wooden Decking if placed in the correct part of the garden can be a great success; wood radiates heat rather, than diffusing it which is what patios do. Sadly during the boom years a lot of decking was installed and recommend by people who should have known better. The problem was they were placed in shady dark areas of the garden this is a big NO NO, wooden decking needs to be in a south facing aspect 12 months of the year. A normal Irish year brings enough for the deck to contend with rain and frost. In some cases it is possible to relocate the decking if it was screwed down rather than nailed down. A consultation with a descent hardware which will supply a suitable cleaning and a sealer and should be used as power hosing should not be attempted on the he wood as it will damage the integrity of it
Large trees should be evaluated consult with a tree surgeon if only for safety reasons and the fact that they are best placed to evaluate what can and should be done with certain trees.
Bricks have an impressive lifespan and some can last more than 100 years I have built a patio lifting bricks from one part of the garden to another by lifting cleaning and resetting. This can be a great solution to spending out large sums on new patio slabs. If they are laid with a descent base underneath clay bricks and concrete bricks will turn out far better than one might expect. A montage of different coloured bricks can work surprisingly well to create a cost efficient patio area , I have gone even further and used cut offs gathered up over years and mixed and matched them to create a new patio .Quite a few businesses specialise in selling reclaimed bricks, one of the most common sources of brick and block waste include bricks that are damaged during unloading, storage and cutting but when laid are almost impossible to detect any imperfections .Research carefully the suitability if one is laying and installing a new patio, enquire if it can manage the damp Irish conditions and the part of the garden it is being laid. Some stone are popular for there bright appearance, but can be literally eaten a way by dampness, if placed in the wrong location in the garden, that is out of the sun. There should be a stone suitable for most areas just don't be distracted by bright garish slab colours which are invariably unsuitable.
If however this seems all to much to contemplate there is savings to be made on engaging a registered professional as the Government have introduced a scheme "The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme" which gives homeowners a tax relief from the VAT at 13.5% meaning if one spends a minimum of €5,000 or to a ceiling of €30,000 savings of up to €4050.00 can be reclaimed.
Finally modern thinking concludes that a garden should not be a pristine area. An area set aside for some managed "Organised Chaos" the type that Mother Nature approves of where perhaps Nettles and Wildflowers will thrive they are surprisingly colourful. This allows a bit of nature in return managing the garden for you. Birds, Bees Butterflies Moths will all visit your garden and in turn will clear greenfly and other similar pests. Nettles should be seen as plus rather than a negative. If one is resourceful Nettles can be amazingly useful being made into a tasty soup or an excellent plant food that is easily brewed up.