It's been almost two years since we went along to Grand Designs clutching plans for our garden and seeking advice on how to deal with the "problem areas" in our garden. And it's been interesting to reread that post as I'm sharing yet another revision to our grand plan.
Following that trip two years ago we were pretty much set on using upturned sleepers to form a small wall-like seat under the laurel tree at the rear of the garden. We had - and still have - some disagreements on how that might work and we were under no illusion about how much work, and digging, that would need. But nothing happened, and that area of the garden still resembles a bit of a junk yard and is a handy store for all manner of things. That probably means that neither of us were truly committed to making that part of the plan happen.
But we know something needs to happen, and I think we've finally cracked it.
Here's a clue to the change:
Pretty isn't it? Although I'll have to confess it's only a very loose clue.
While in Dorset without wifi, I found myself flicking through a magazine and I spotted an image of gabion baskets topped with paving slabs to form a seat and my mind began to wonder. If we could shape the gabion baskets into a semi-circle, it might just work. So I did what I always do and did some research to combat all the questions that I knew MOH would have.
While I was doing that I found some great examples, including this one from Garden Drum on how to build a curved gabion wall. I knew though after reading that, that I'd be unlikely to be able to convince MOH to go to all this effort. He's read it too, and says we can't do that as he doesn't have a spare wheel to use to shape the mesh, so as I thought, I've no chance of replicating that.
It's ok though because I never really thought I would. Had I wanted as many curves as they had then I'd have been making a stronger case, but as my motivation is to get something done relatively quickly, I'm settling for 0.5m square baskets shaped into a semi-circle. And like all good plans, I've even got a sketch, something I never quite managed for the upturned sleeper version of the plan.
When we looked at the space we realised that we'd need a partial second row of baskets so that there could be some planting at seat level to soften it a little. We can't raise the soil level by half a metre without them as the boundary wall is the exterior walls of two of our neighbours, but we think if we line them with membrane and fill them with earth, this will do the job. As the baskets are relatively cheap - and we have some soil, as we saved some from digging out the circles in the summer - this seems a good all round solution for us.
We'll fill the baskets at the front with what I'm calling builders rubble, but what I really mean is a combination of bricks, broken paving slabs, roofing tiles and some large pebbles which I saved when we had our patio done a few years ago. The pebbles were in the gully between the house and the patio and I knew at some point they'd come in handy! Since then I've clearly done a good job of "hiding" them from MOH as he was surprised to learn we still had them.
I suspect we'll need to buy some bricks, but I've already discovered you can buy them on eBay - how amazing is that? I've also discovered that there's lots of people having work done around us and whose front gardens have the sort of builder's rubble I'm after. If they still have it when we're filling our gabion baskets, I might find myself getting brave and asking if I can help them out with their junk (although I might phrase it slightly differently to that!)
So a new plan, and renewed energy and enthusiasm for making it happen. And there's a good chance it could happen this year - watch this space!