Don't let bins rule the roost
WHEN I drive around Bristol I am often struck by how many front gardens there are that are crying out for some TLC. The blight of bins and recycling boxes has turned these on-show areas into ugly and unkempt spaces. Giving a makeover to these front gardens would make returning home more pleasurable and help transform the street too.
Just adding a window box or two makes the world of difference, brightening up your day and encouraging bees and wildlife into our cities.
These small spaces can be even more rewarding in ways you've never even thought of: fruit and vegetables can be grown in the smallest of spaces, so create your own herb garden or put plants such as Pieris Japonica, that don't like Bristol's heavy clay soils, into pots.
The garden pictured is on a steep site in Bishopston and is a perfect example of what can be achieved in a small space. It had been landscaped when the house was built in the Victorian era, but little had changed since.
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The clay soil had heaved the Victorian pathway, turning it into a trip hazard, and the overgrown hedge at the front was starving the lawn of sunlight, allowing dirt to accumulate and moss to thrive. The steps were also in bad repair, as was the main retaining wall, pillars and gate.
The client was also fed up with lifting her bins up and down the steps and wanted them to be easily accessed, yet out of sight.
A low maintenance, visually interesting design has helped to transform this urban front garden. Retaining walls were built using oak sleepers to create a useable levelled area.
A bin storage area was excavated just inside the gate, hiding them from sight. The stepping stones set within the pebbles provide visual interest and lead the way to the new seat, where one can enjoy the evening sun. I am told that the children who hop along the path often enjoy this element of the design.
Planting is a mixture of evergreen shrubs and perennials, which provide year-round interest and don't need much maintenance.
Lavenders, cistus, heucheras and box provide structure to the beds and a specimen acer and a beautiful bowl-shaped planter filled with creeping thyme act as focal points.
For more about Katherine's work, see www.katherineroper.co.uk.