Garden Makeover: Learning as You Go

Part One:

We recently made some changes to our midcentury Dublin City home. Before the work, the garden was fine: I loved my mature shrubs that came with the house – especially the scent of jasmine of a June evening – and the three Japanese plum trees lining the back wall. There was a charming wooden glass house made by a previous owner (whose handiwork was found in many odd places around the house and garden) in a pseudo-gothic style that unfortunately we had to take down as it was rotten. We saved three windows and they now grace a bedroom wall.


After the work on the house, the garden was … tired? sad? unsure of itself? A mess?

The renovations involved removing our garage, which was replaced by a wooden shed underneath two of the back trees. The larger patch of lawn is mostly scraggly weeds after being covered in timber and other building materials for months, plus having our bikes pushed across it every time we go in and out.

I’ve been staring out at that garden through my new huge window for more than a year, wondering how to make it a beautiful, easy space.

Since we will be around this summer, now is the time to tackle it. Trying to make a start, I half-heartedly dragged out a hose to mark a line for a new path. The hose had a mind of it’s own; I couldn’t make up my mind; the hose has been pushed aside and left in a heap under one of the shrubs.

Pinterest and googling only seem to yield images of gardens that have benefitted from a big spend: designers, gardeners, patios, decks, stonework, water features, furniture and even outdoor kitchens all work together to produce amazing spaces. I don’t have that budget and the climate here isn’t very conducive to much outdoor living, especially a kitchen.

Realising I needed to take another approach, I turned to the old faithful method of making a list. I started with what I like about the space:

I like the new deck that is in front of the new shed, a place to catch the afternoon sun’s last rays. I love our tree platform that looks out to the crescent behind us, with it’s trap door and trapeze swings. I love the plum tree beside our original deck, right outside the huge window, with it’s beautiful blossoms in spring, bright green leaves over summer, and fairy lights all year. I also like my apple tree (and wish my autumn raspberries would actually produce something) and my garden wall art, both pieces wedding gifts from Canada.

What I don’t like:

The shrubs along the walls are patchy. The walls themselves not well made (but we won’t be replacing soon). I don’t like that the step up to the back deck is not centred with the original little cement path that follows the clothes line. There are bits of things around the place. It’s haphazard and random, but not in a good way.

I may need to get rid of the loganberries though they’ve been in this garden a long time. They do produce, but they are brambles and tend to get scraggly and take over, as brambles do. Maybe it is time to set them free.

What we need:

  • a path from side gate to shed, wide enough to walk along with a bike
  • some grass (by request of the kids)
  • place for my new fire pit
My chimney pot; a Christmas present.

What I want:

  • places to sit/small table
  • places for growing (we have that but may need to change them)
  • a chimney pot
  • solar lighting
  • large pot(s) for sculptural interest
  • more art, maybe a mirror?

And then, after I’d started this post, I found a plan of our back garden left on my laptop screen (and I will admit that I thought it was an open window and couldn’t figure out how to close it down: ‘Where is the cursor?!!’ No techie awards coming my way any time soon). A certain CAD technician had left it there for me. Within minutes, with my lists in mind, I quickly sketched out something that I think will work, and now I have a plan.

A4P Garden Plan Rev 1

Part 2 coming later this summer. Before photos will be included with the after photos. 


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