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Help needed with hideous concrete front garden


By Navyeye

Avon, United Kingdom Gb

Hiya all, I'm wondering if anyone here would be able to give me some tips on how to make my front garden look less hideous. It's literally a concrete jungle. I've looked in the galleries but nothing really works.

There can't really be anything in it that could be pinched, we also can't afford to lay some nicer brickwork (although that is the long term plan but not for at least 1 or 2 years as the house needs sorting first, we just bought it and it hasn’t been touches since the 30s!). We really need to do everything as cheaply as possible and am willing to make do and mend if that’s what it takes. My partner is also quite handy, especially with wood and he knows how to bricklay etc. But he doesn’t have a lot of time so quick things really would be best.

I don’t ask for much do I?!? I love the colour in this picture: but don't think I would like having lots of pots as I like things to be uniform and symmetrical (but I could be swayed with good pictures, I’m not very visionary). I also don’t know loads and loads about gardening but I feel I know the basics and am happy to put in the hours.

The garden get lots of morning sun, not so much in the afternoon and I live in Bristol if you need to know about climate; sorry it’s not the best picture I stole it from google street view. In the middle of the paving there is a rectangle of soil which has a rose bush. I don’t really like roses (well I like the flowers but not the tree like nature of this sort of bush) and it just looks terribly unloved, I want to cover it up definitely. Also along the wall there is a bed, currently filled with weeds and pebbley stone things.

Any advice/pictures to inspiration would be brilliant. Wish we could afford a gardener to come really, but hey ho, it’s our first house so maybe in time we can do that!

Thanks all. Sorry so long.




If you are not keen on pots and if it were me I'd hire something to break up the concrete. Something like this might work, you might need to copy and paste the link into your browser :

I saw someone say on another forum that they hired one to break up a concrete floor in a room that was about 6 inches thick and it took them a few hours only.

2 May, 2010


i know you dont like pots but break up the lines with some clematis or honeysuckle in pots on the front wall,can you lift some of those paveing stones and do a grid of plants just to bring in some color,chris

2 May, 2010


I would suggest you use your rose slot to make a mini garden. We have a front garden covered in paving. At the time it was done, without my entire agreement, I pleaded for 2 spaces left in the middle. They were planted with Spirea goldflame and some tall daffodils. Some star flower bulbs near the edges for early colour and blue bells at the edged of the larger space.. On a dull day like this it is a treat to look out, as I type, and goldflame is ablaze in the rain! The star flowers are nearly over. The leaves of the daffs that have still bloomed for years now are just level with the top of the shrub, which was trimmed this year. Next time down to about 9 inches. Trim, fertilise and after that it will take care of itself. I still dislike this frontage but have to grin and bear it. Look in my pictures.

2 May, 2010


Well its certainly low maintenance isnt it ? They do appear to be slabs in the front which would lend themselves to above suggestions.

Might I ask are you planning to paint the render like next door ? If so would suggest you do this before tackling this area as bits of flaky masonry and paint can be more easily dealt with esp. if removing slabs any way.

Apologies if you like the current finish but if blended with next door would reduce the overall concrete effect and show your future plants off to greater effect.

2 May, 2010


If they are slabs (the different coloured squares suggest this) then it should be quite easy to break the concrete between them; buy a sledge hammer and use it to release any agression! Then you could dig the ground and add some soil improver. If the whole area is too much to do in one go you could try taking out a few slabs here and there.
If it is all concrete it probably won't be veryy thick as it is only intended for walking on. The driveway behind the double gate will be much thicker. Buy or borrow a sledge hammer and give the concrete a few good whacks to see what happens.

2 May, 2010


Hey everyone thanks for the brilliant replies. If I break up the concrete what would I do then? Lay it all with turf? I'm anticipating that would cost a lot as you would need some sort of top soil, a skip to remove the rubble etc? Although I am a relative novice so let me know if you guys had other ideas.

I just had a look under the slabs using a crowbar (sorry yes to clarify they are slabs) and the one I lifted has soil underneath it, I’m not sure if they will all be like this. In the back garden some slabs we removed (only 3) had like rubble and other stuff underneath.

I don't really like the idea of lifting some slabs and making like a grid; it's too higgledy piggledy for me I know I wouldn't like it (a few on the street have similar). I was thinking about using the middle rose section as a mini garden I saw this picture which is brilliant: I really like tall spiky plants but I can't seem to find where to buy them on-line. Any ideas?

I’ve attached a few more pictures: this shows how we want the front of our house to look eventually. This shows sort of what the long term plan for the garden will be (once front is done); basically bit of grass few flowers and path to door and we will pave the drive and replace the wall with something less in your face. This shows the garden better, I took it from the bedroom window, but you can see there is a bed against the wall already. To the right you will notice a few cleaner looking slabs, I bleached them yesterday and gave them a good scrub.

Whilst I say I don’t like the idea of pots, I wouldn’t like something like this: I really love the look of it but know I couldn’t live with it as it’s too mishmashed (but is a really lovely garden, just wish I wasn’t such a neat freak!). But I really like the way the pots are hidden in the other link above, how could I achieve that?

Guess I need to get pot hunting! Can anyone recommend any good online places, or any shops?

Thanks again everyone, I really appreciate it.

2 May, 2010


Hello Navyeye, You seem to be moving in the direction of having some plants in pots but seem to feel that this is a bit unstructured as you have a more regimented style but there's nothing to say that you can't have pots planted in a regimental style. For example pot of red geraniums then pot of marigolds, red geraniums, marigolds or pots with lots of different plants that are all different shades of the same colour to give it a uniform look.
Whatever you decide, happy gardening.
If budget is a consideration Pound Stretcher (or whatever it's called these days) B & M, and B & Q have plastic pots at very reasonable prices, and Morrisons too.

2 May, 2010


hi gaia01 thanks for taking the time to reply. I've been thinking more and more about it and f the weather is dry tomorrow I'm going to lift all the slabs. Someone on my local freecycle has asked for some patio slabs so they are going to come and give me a hand and take everything away.

Then I'll turf the lot, take everything out of the flower bed, and make a new one against the other wall with some reclaimed stone and start afresh. Can you tell I have been planning this all day?!

Ove it's all done I will post a picture here. Thanks for the great advice everyone.

2 May, 2010


You asked about tall spiky plants. Crocus sell one variety of hardy yucca and also several varieties of phormium. The pictures there don't really give a good indication of the shape, but you can get an idea of that if you put the plant name in google images.

I haven't ordered from Crocus, or anywhere online - I tend to go to garden centres as I can pick out a specimen that I like that way. Perhaps someone here can help further with online companies that they would recommend. I know Thompson and Morgan supply a wide range of plants and seeds online

and J. Parkers also does online plant sales.

As for covering up the pots, you can do that by planting trailing plants which cascade over the side, A plant like aubretia purple cascade is evergreen, will tumble over the pot, and will give flowers March to May. Ivy is popular and also evergreen. For summer bedding plants, petunias come in all kinds of colours and will cover the sides of the pot, there are trailing begonias, trailing geraniums, trailing lobelias, you can get trailing carnations too. There are many more to choose from.

3 May, 2010

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