In April came the excitement of knowing that we were within touching distance of our garden build, and with it came the loss of our driveway to a skip and landscaping equipment lined up and ready to go!
Excavate and Build
When the landscapers arrived, the excavator could not fit through our gate and so some fencing panels had to come down in order to bring it in. Within a day, they had filled the skip with clay soil, rubble, and builder’s waste. The site was excavated and lines had been marked on the ground detailing the traffic of drainage piping, patio, and path.
The first thing that was obvious to me was that the garden was much more level, the gradient had been balanced out so that it was now more subtle and more appropriate for a family with a young child. The landscapers left the marker spray, at my request, so I could mark out the patio and path to my liking and here is where I learned a valuable lesson. I marked out the patio and path in line with my design and by chance I brought out the garden table and chairs. Snug it was and cozy it was not, so we extended the whole floor plan by 50cm creating a more appropriate social space – it is easier to change marked lines on the ground than hard landscaping!
Trenches and Soakaways
Three long trenches took charge of the space, their role possibly being the most important. They concluded at the lowest point of the garden in a soakaway, essentially a hole filled with rubble that collects the water and slowly drains it away from that point in the garden. We have a paving slab over ours so we are none the wiser to it.
The trenches became home to the perforated pipes which are very durable and covered in holes that let rainwater in. A layer of permeable membrane and aggregate covers this so as to stop any soil blocking the holes in the piping. Thinking ahead to when I dig through the flower borders to improve the soil, the location of the piping is something I will need to be aware of so that I don’t disrupt or damage any of it.
Patio and Path
Once the drainage was in place, more aggregate was brought in to fill the outline of my new and larger patio and path area. The aggregate, and the subsequent action of compacting it, is an essential part in laying a patio. It creates a solid foundation for the cement and paving to be laid on, preventing any movement and sinking. At this point, I had my first real vision of what the space could become.
Day three saw the most obvious change to the garden: the laying of the patio and path. When I arrived home, I headed straight to the garden and in front of me the sun was setting over our new patio, it was bliss. The prospect of the memories that will be born in this space is a beautiful thought, and here on day three, the reality was emerging.
A Night-time Soak
Day four saw a similar progression with top soil going down in the flower bed and turf being laid. Caution had to be taken over the coming days because the sun beating down on newly laid turf would only dry it out to a point where it would shrink and curl. Watering in the evening and out of the sun helps to prevent this and soaking the grass aids rooting.
After months of waiting, my wife and I were able to assemble the potting shed kit in an afternoon and before we knew it the roof was on, the rain had stopped, and a cuppa was in my hand.
Over the next few days I completed the potting shed, added some shelves, and moved in a salvaged pew. It was at this point I knew that it would not be long before the wildlife was visiting the garden and making homes for themselves and at that moment my thoughts were disrupted by the sound of wings pushing through the air and as I looked around the corner, two great tits were dancing around the plants awaiting their place in the garden.
Andy Peasgood is a Principal Dancer with Scottish Ballet and a keen gardener. His performance career is fast paced and he finds balance in the garden with particular interests in planting, wildlife, and design. You can follow Andy’s progress as he builds ‘A Garden from Scratch’ in his regular column in Scotland Grows magazine and keep up to date with him on his Instagram feed.