Create a garden in a week or so

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last updated 20th Aug 2015

Is it really possible to make a garden in a week (or two)?
First, plan and prioritise to make a garden in a week
Choose structures, lawns and plants for a garden in a week
Plant suggestions for making a garden in one week
Plant suggestions – hedges, climbers, shrubs, trees – to make a garden in a week

Is it really possible to make a garden in a week (or two)?

Visit a major gardening show and have a look at the display gardens. Then marvel that these are constructed in a week or so.OK, so these prizewinners need shedloads of money and muscle, but you can create a whole garden or complete a corner just as quickly yourself, with or without contractors. The limits are your time, energy and cashflow.

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First, plan and prioritise to make a garden in a week or two

Transforming a bare plot to a mature garden needn’t take years and years, especially if you plan a low maintenance design with plenty of paving and permanent structures. It helps if you can begin in early spring too.

For plant ideas, You could look at advice from the RHS on key plants for different situations/effects, or buy ready-made border collections from Crocus, so you don’t have to work out which groups of plants go where. The 37 (at the last count) collections include focus on particular colours (eg azure and gold, red summer, keep it cool, brilliant orange, shady pink, sunny pink, steamy jungle, blues), styles (eg cottage garden), soils (eg chalk, clay, sandy), site (eg shade), seasons (eg spring, fiery summer, autumn hues), cost (money’s tight, mid-range and blow the budget) and function (eg for pollinators).

Plan

The first job is to map out your ideas, pencilling in the patio, paths, any plant beds and borders, plus possible positions for specimen trees or other focal points. Then you’re ready to tackle the hard landscaping. This term refers to anything requiring building materials such as fencing, walling, paths, patio and barbecue, plus structures that involve excavations or foundations, such as a shed, greenhouse, summerhouse, pergola or pond. See How to create a garden design master plan or use a garden design service.

Prioritise

That’s quite a list, but you can approach it in stages, once you’ve dealt with the boundaries (see our article on quick, cheap boundaries). You just have to prioritise, depending on the season and the weather conditions. For example, you may decide that an area for relaxation is the next essential to complete. In which case, construct the patio and barbecue, erect any screening material and add a small water feature. With some pots of foliage plants, plus flowers for seasonal colour, you’ll soon have a pleasant area for sitting, from where you can plan the rest of your campaign.

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Next – structures, then lawns and plants to make a garden in a week

Structures

Supporting structures can make attractive focal points in their own right in the early stages. Choose from ready-made timber or metal versions or make your own temporary supports from bamboo canes. For more sturdy home-made supports, use rustic poles or sawn timber.
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Other structures such as trellis panel screens, and trellis tops to boundary fences and walls, are also valuable in the early stages of constructing a garden, adding height and decoration.

See the range of paving slabs, wallingfencingtrellisarchesarboursgates and garden buildings from our online shop, where all the products are clearly priced from leading companies.

Lawns

Once all the potentially lawn-damaging activities are out of the way, the next quick fix is to lay the lawn. After you’ve prepared the ground, and perhaps brought in topsoil to level off the dips (but ‘topsoil’ can be dodgy so use a reputable company such as Rolawn, you’ve only to roll out the turves (buy locally or from Rolawn), to create an instant and evergreen carpet to counteract the bricks, paving and other hard landscaping.

Adding the plants

A mature garden is attractive because of the varying heights and depths that it contains. So your first job is to put in the framework of trees, shrubs and hedging that will eventually provide this mature feel. You could buy one or more mature plants if you can afford them (you’re buying growing time here). If you’re on a tight budget, go for small, but add plenty of fast-growing annual and perennial plants that will fill gaps at low level, or climb up and over tripods and obelisks to give that all-important height.

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Plant suggestions for making a garden in one week

Plants for all situations are sold by Crocus so have a look at their listings for some ideas that you like.

Fast-growing annual flowers

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Cheap and cheerful annual plants (which grow, flower and die in one year) provide quick colour, especially in areas of the garden that may be earmarked for another use in the longer-term.

Grow from seed

Seed catalogues such as Thompson & Morgan’s list an enormous selection of annuals, including climbing versions such as sweet peas with scented flowers, canary creeper, various nasturtiums, and dwarf morning glory (use its botanical name of Convolvulus tricolor to avoid confusion with the true morning glory). These are all hardy annuals and a doddle to grow outdoors from seed sown from March in containers or in the ground.
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Buy plants

For even faster effects, buy bedding annuals in spring or summer for a splash of colour from specialists such as CrocusJersey Plants Direct or Thompson & Morgan

Herbaceous perennials for flowers and foliage

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These contribute height and bulk to gardens, but stop growing in winter. Some disappear until spring; others keep their old leaves and flowers, which can be cut down or left to look good during frosty spells. Most are grown for their flowers, but foliage plants such as hostas, grown in the ground or in pots, are also very attractive. There’s a huge range of hostas with differing leaf shapes and colours, suitable for sun or shade. Delicate ferns are another beautiful addition to the garden, and not all need damp, dark corners to thrive.

Climbers

There are several herbaceous climbing plants, and the quickest and easiest to grow is probably the hop (Humulus lupulus, which is a vigorous twining plant that every year puts out 3-6m of growth, with an effective screen of 8-15cm lobed leaves. It has rough stems and leaves, which helps it cling but makes it painful to brush past, so position it carefully. There’s more information on Crocus.

Grasses

There’s a place for grasses in their own right, rather than in the lawn, in most gardens. And now that gardeners have recently re-discovered the beauty of the many different grasses and discovered their drought-resisting qualities, the selection on sale is increasing year by year. For more reading, go to our article Some foliage plant ideas.
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Plant suggestions – hedges, climbers, shrubs, trees – for a garden in a week

Quick covering plants for all situations are sold by Crocus so have a look at their listings to find ideas that you like.

Hedging plants

Particularly fast-growing hedging plants include the ubiquitous Leyland conifer (X Cupressocyparis leylandii), its close relative the Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), and Western red cedar (Thuja plicata). But remember that they keep on growing, and growing, so you’ll be out there hedgetrimming every August once they’ve reached the required height.

Take a look at the hedging section of our boundaries article.

Perennial climbers for fast foliage

Amongst the woody-stemmed climbers, the grapevines and their relatives are some of the most vigorous. They all prefer sun, and the grapevines need some sort of support to twine their tendrils around. If you’re lucky with the weather, the decorative versions of the wine grape (Vitis vinifera) may well produce fruit too. Although the grapevines sometimes colour up in autumn, choose one of their Parthenocissus relatives for reliably rich reds. These include Virginia creepers and Boston ivy, which cling to rough surfaces and quickly cover a wall. See climbers on Crocus.

Evergreens for all-year colour

Conifers come in all shapes and sizes, and colours too, but choose with care. Too many can be quite dull, and you may tire of the same scene all year round. Apart from the many sorts that reach for the sky (such as Juniperus ‘Skyrocket’), there are some that grow to manageable heights before ceasing growth, and others that make useful sideways fillers, such as Juniperus ‘Grey Owl’. This doesn’t grow very tall, perhaps 30cm or so, but its spreading branches of dense greyish-green needles quickly span a metre or more.
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A fast-growing broad-leaved alternative to a conifer is Escallonia macrantha, which only takes a couple of years to grow into a dense 2m high shrub, with rosy-red flowers in the summer as a bonus.

Other trees and shrubs

There aren’t many trees that rocket upwards without overwhelming, so you’re better off choosing smaller trees that soon reach maturity. Ornamental crab apples (Malus), hawthorns (Crataegus), rowans (Sorbus aucuparia) and some ornamental cherries (Prunus) reach 4m after five years and won’t grow much taller after that. The butterfly bush (Buddleja) is also a fast gap filler that’s easily pruned annually to keep manageable.

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