Notes from the Garden – 24/4/16 – Bye bye lawn


So this was the front garden this morning.  Regular readers will know that I have been procrastinating for some time, maybe years, about the front garden and getting rid of the lawn.  I decided this year that it would go but instead of embracing it head on earlier in the year I have occupied myself with various other ‘essential’ tasks in the main garden.  I suspect there was a small voice questioning whether I was making the right decision, and then there was all the work that would be involved lifting the turf and getting rid of it and really can I keep on top of the main garden so why do I want to make the front garden more work! However, the patio has been filling up with pots of plants for the front garden in anticipation of its make-over so either I donate them all to local plant fairs or I just get on with it.


Anyway I have completed all the jobs I had come up with that had to be done before I tackled the front garden and set my mind to starting work today.  I have to admit that it was tough going especially as the turf needed to go to the far corner of the main garden up a considerable slope with two sets of steps and a garage in between.  Luckily my youngest son popped round to help and my eldest joined in for the afternoon so between us we started to get a system going between us.  We managed between us to lift about half of the lawn which is a good start and means that I can start to dig over the soil and add some compost.  I have a couple of shrubs that I really want to get in the ground asap so that is the first priority.  And the reason my final niggle was put to bed is because Noel Kingsbury, who visited yesterday with his wife Jo, within a very short time made the observation that the front garden just isn’t me – which I think is what I have been trying to say for a while.


Now, what to do with the turf?  Yes, I should stack it neatly to rot down and make wonderful potting compost but I don’t really have space for a stacked lawn.  Some of the mossy crumbly bits were placed on top of one of the compost bins to slowly rot down.  Then in a demonstration of how not to lay turf I have started to turf the area in front of the compost bins – creating what my youngest has decided to call Hobbitland!  It has a 50:50 chance; if the turf takes then it will stabilise the slope but if it doesn’t take then so be it.  Even more amusing to my sons was that I turfed around the plants that have self-seeded on the slope – as I said a lesson in how not to turf!!  If it takes then we will keep it in check with a strimmer but the intention is that it will be more wild than tidy and I would love to add crocus and other bulbs and maybe plant some primulas amongst the turf.  There will be more turf to add when we lift the rest of the lawn and it needs tidying up once we have assessed whether it has taken or not – in the meantime the blackbirds are having a lovely evening looking for worms in the sodden turf and I am feeling very pleased.





17 Comments Add yours

  1. Julieanne says:

    You’ve taken the plunge – how exciting! I look forward to seeing the end result and the plants you place there. I like the idea of what you did with the turf you have lifted so far. It’s worth a try, since you have to do something with it anyway. As ever, lots of interesting things going on in your garden Helen.

  2. Renee Pasman says:

    It does look like a hobbit land – how fun! I hope it takes! I also can’t wait to see what you plant in the front. Congratulations on starting the transformation!

  3. Going well. It’s always good to have assistance on these major tasks!

  4. I can’t wait to see how it looks with plants in place of lawn! I’d do the same with my front garden, but it’s attached to next door’s lawn (open plan estate) and the dog likes to lie on it in the sun…

  5. rusty duck says:

    This is going to look so good. Already it seems so much wider in the lawnless bit.

  6. Anna says:

    Oh all that space just waiting for new plants – how exciting Helen! I imagine that the robins will have joined in the party too searching for worms.

  7. Полина says:

    That area near compost bins looks just lovely

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Just as well you are young and fit and have some borrowed mussels from your sons! My back groaned when I read it! I like the idea of planting some random crocus etc in the old lawn. Maybe something higher to disguise the compost bins.

  9. Susan says:

    Great decision, that front lawn definitely belonged to another family, and now you have a lovely new area to play with and more plants to enjoy

  10. nanacathy2 says:

    I created a wonderful front garden full of plants. My husband hated it and turfed it! Sometimes something pops it head through the grass and says yah shucks we are still here!! Good luck with the planting.

  11. One way to stack the turf – and maybe hide the compost bins too! – would be along the lines that I have seen at a London Wetlands centre: roll the pieces up neatly and stack them as a natural wall. I guess you can add as many or as few rows as you like, depending on how high you want it to be.
    How do you plan to manage the matter of treading on the soil once the lawn has all gone? Will you use natural stepping stones?

  12. Lori says:

    I just found your blog 😀 That is an amazing job. We removed some turf while building a path and it certainly is a workout! That’s the hard part, though. Now comes the fun!

  13. Cathy says:

    Oh well done to you and your sons – such a productive weekend 🙂

  14. Matt @ Garden59 says:

    It looks better already 🙂 Your post amused me because Hobbitland is exactly the sort of thing I’d try too!

  15. Angie says:

    This is one of those jobs that when finished the first thing you’ll say is why didn’t I do this sooner.
    Well done thus far and I look forward to seeing the next installment Helen.

  16. Cathy says:

    I think (and hope!) that Hobbitland will be just beautiful Helen. And looking forward to seeing your front garden planted!

  17. Well done, lifting turf is very hard work. Looking forward to seeing what you do next

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