sam_potter37

Planting pockets in new patio

Sam Potter
10 months ago

My new 'yarden' is almost complete, but I'm worried about the planting pockets. The landscapers laid dark grey hard-core over the whole yard after breaking up and removing the old concrete surface. They then laid a yellow gravel/sand-like material where the patio stone would go. Then once the stone was down, they infilled the planting pockets with topsoil, without removing the grey hardcore in these areas. Was this correct? I have a sign off meeting with them tomorrow and I'm concerned they'll just say it's fine, as to remove and dig up the grey hardcore would be additional time and effort for them. The part of the job they haven't completed yet is to provide a planting plan, so they are combining the sign off meeting with a visit by their gardener to discuss this. If both people visiting say its OK the way it is I haven't got the expertise to disagree. I've mentioned it twice in emails to the company, once my question wasn't answered, and most recently they've said they'll consult the gardener on it, but haven't got back to me.
I want at least one tree in the garden, as well as climbers all around the walls, so I assume I need to dig a fairly deep hole, at least for the tree.
Can anyone advise if a layer of hardcore between topsoil and the natural soil (which I haven't seen) is ever correct? I'd like to be armed with some knowledge tomorrow.
And I don't want to spend money on plants that won't thrive. I'm deliberately having beds rather than a container garden to allow my 'yarden' to be more self sufficient for watering etc.
Pics below show the grey hardcore, the yellow surface and the finished surface.

Comments (50)

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    9 months ago

    Update pics after the weekend. Still raining in Newcastle but I don't care!

    Top Answer
  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    Is the hardcore made of stone or concrete? If it is, then it could , maybe, help with drainage If you have a garden with poor drainage. Personally, I don’t like it. Plants need nice friable to soil to live in that will feed their hungry roots. Also the worms may be stopped from doing their job if there are lumps of hardcore in the soil. Worms are essential to the health of a garden and it’s them that create that wonderful soil. I’m just an amateur gardener, but I wouldn’t be happy with that.


  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    Some plants don’t mind poor soil, meadow plants and plants that love to snuggle amongst rocks and sometimes gardens are full of rubble and you just garden around it, but they added the rubble!

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Absolutely and they don't know what the natural soil is like here. Gardener didn't visit during the work. All they know is I want lots of climbers and at least one tree. I suspect they may try to tell me it's a good thing, and done for a reason, which is why I'm keen to get an impartial view on it, before I meet them.

  • AMB
    10 months ago

    I'm no expert but if I were in your position I would have them dig out a lot of the grey hardcore. I assume they laid it all over to give themselves an even surface for laying the patio. As part of the landscaping I would expect the gardener to dig down and turn the soil, adding any nutrients etc., then laying topsoil and planting. They may dig the grey stones in to help with drainage. My thoughts, I'm not an expert.

  • obobble
    10 months ago

    Any plants would have a hard time getting their roots through the bottom grey layer of hardcore and they will only have very shallow soil above it. Absolutely it needs to come out of the planting pockets. The soil will probably be quite poor and compacted underneath so maybe dig in some compost or rotted manure once it has been removed. If you think it may drain poorly, because for example it is heavy clay, then incorporate some horticultural grit too. Not sure why they are combining sign off with presentation of the planting plan - what happens if the plan needs rework?
    If you will have to dig out a big hole to plant a tree, maybe that pocket doesn’t need to be filled right up at this stage?

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks Obobble and AMB. I'm a bit stressed about them coming tomorrow. The gardener always said he'd visit during the build to test the soil and discuss the planting plan, but the owner seems to think its handover day tomorrow. I obviously hold the trump card of not having paid the bill yet, but it all feels a bit pressurised. Its a shame because it's spoiling what should be a fun, creative time. I'll just have to be firm tomorrow about what needs to happen before I pay the bill.

  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    Sam it shouldn’t take the landscapers long to dig out the unwanted hardcore and fill with topsoil. If you prefer, get them to remove the hardcore and then you or the gardener add a nice mixture of topsoil and compost in the holes left. If he’s a proper gardener he/she will know it’s not an ideal planting medium. Sadly too many landscapers know bugger all about gardening.........

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Sonia you were right. They came along today and dug it in/over. Apparently its fine now. Fingers crossed!

  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    I can’t wait to see it all planted up Sam!

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Me neither. Take a look at the planting plan. Though I am fancying alemanchier lamarckii instead of the hawthorn (edible berries tho gardener reckons it won't like the damp soil). Any thoughts?

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Oops, try again

  • rachelmidlands
    10 months ago

    Hi Sam. Yarden is looking great:) Glad your landscapers dug out/over the hardcore will be much better in the long run for your plants and with some topsoil and decent compost dug in the soil should improve further. Anyway, I’ve been having a good study of the planting plan although had look up half of them because I can never remember Latin names:) It’s good and I can see why he/she has chosen these plants as they’re all really tough and will grow in difficult or shaded situations, almost failsafe. I’d be tempted to swap the fern with the geranium so you’ve got some height next to the water butt pond and along with the snowdrops I’d be itching to pop in a few primroses for spring colour. Hawthorn is a good choice as it’s a real battle axe of a small tree, thorny but that could be a great burglar deterrent:) Alamanchier is nice too so a tough choice. Oh.. and if you get slugs/snails on the paving watch them round the hosta... slugs love munching on hostas.

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks rachelmidlands, Good call on putting the fern near the water feature. It'll look awesome there. I'm very keen on alemanchier now I've found out you can eat the berries. Apparently they make an alternative to sloe gin which is right up my alley. How big of a tree would you get? It would be lovely to have an instant garden, I don't want to plant a twig and wait years for it to develop into a tree, but the gardener said I should get small plants and let them establish themselves as they often overtake larger ones planted at the same time. Not sure he was talking about trees though.
    I'm not doing the hosta. I HATE slugs, It's a bit of a phobia.
    One thing I thought was that the choices are a bit risk averse, the plants next to the side wall on the left, with all the drainpipes that need screening in particular, are all a bit 'supermarket carpark'; dense evergreen small leaves, not much else going on. I wondered if there's anything more aesthetically interesting that might do the same job?"Something that smells nice would be nice by the drains. Or maybe they aren't as boring as the images, I googled?
    Maybe he's done the best he can for a dark space in the freezing North!

  • Jonathan
    10 months ago

    The hardcore has to be dug out for your tree- it comes down to who is responsible.
    As far as the remaining plants- they will need at least 8” of good soil- if they have that then they will likely be fine but if not you need more hardcore dug out. Make sure you get someone else to do this - it’s a pig of a job and you shouldn’t have to do it

  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    Hi Sam, that planting plan is excellent. Your site is pretty shady (I think) and you need plants that can cope with the situation. I agree with Rachel about hostas - they are slug food and can be shredded in days. I’ve never been able to grow them because of this, yet others do with no problems so go figure! A good replacement is Bergenia, tough leathery leaves with lovely bright pink flowers in spring.


    The tree is a dilemma. Hawthorns are tough, but a tad boring once flowering has finished. Amelanchier is the choice of garden designers, loved by the Rich brothers and Charlie Dimmock, but I wonder if it will overwhelm your courtyard. They reach a height of 8-12m and spread of 4-8m within 10-20 years. The hawthorn in your plan is a little smaller at an eventual height of 4-8m and a spread of 8m. Not sure of the size of your plot? Does the spot where the tree is going get any sun? If so, then a dwarf Apple tree of a dwarf crabapple may be a good option. Or maybe a shrub with the lower branches cut away to create a “tree” shape would be a better option? Something like a Cotinus, Viburnum or Photinia. Grow to about 3m but can be trimmed. I’ll try and add some pics but I’ve had a nightmare trying to upload pics lately!


    Cotinus shaped into a tree


    Viburnum tinus, evergreen


    Photinia Red Robin shaped as a tree, evergreen


    Malus Coralburst, crabbapple


  • rachelmidlands
    10 months ago

    Gardener is right that a smaller tree and plants will take much better as the roots will adjust to soil much quicker than larger ones. No expert but I’d be looking a for a 3ft ish specimen tree for your yard. I’ll do a bit of research on alternative plants by the drains, generally scented plants/shrubs need a good amount of sunshine so the suggestion for potted herbs is a good idea. I like the euonymus tho even if it is boring....it’s slow growing, stays neat and will provide a nice green backdrop for other plants. I had one in a hanging basket for years... the basket fell apart before the euonymus:) I have a phobia of mushrooms and fungi and at this time of year they’re popping up all over the lawn....time to get the mower out:)

  • rachelmidlands
    10 months ago

    How about a sweet box for near the drain. Not as leafy and still a little boring but fab scent in winter https://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/sarcococca-confusa/classid.2000027944/ And since you mentioned gin I thought you might like sweet violet which I think is used to flavor some gins? Also known as Viola odarata and there’s a few varieties, some more scented than others. Can be used as ground cover in shade but can self seed freely, very pretty in spring and would look lovely mingled with the other plants.

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Thanks rachelmidlands! Off to the garden centre....

  • Sonia
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    Here’s Bergenia which is a good, tough replacement for hostas. Evergreen too. My friend has

    sweet box in her front garden, fantastic smell.



  • AMB
    10 months ago

    I thought you were just spelling 'begonia' incorrectly! My ignorance... :)

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Presented without comment

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Starting to look like a garden

  • E D
    10 months ago
    last modified: 10 months ago

    I wanted to comment on the good looks!

    :-)

    How did you make your post comment-free?

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Aw thanks ED! So excited. But a bit tired. Coffee then hole digging. I guess the post was comment free because I just wrote that it was. I only went out to do a bit of an Aldi shop :-)

  • Patrina
    10 months ago

    Sam, looking good like the safety aspect of the plants in the seat belt :-) really though your garden is shaping up to be a stunner.

  • E D
    10 months ago

    Nah, I think I’m starting to get ‘senior moments’.

    I confused this forum with another, where you can actually reply to each post separately. :)

  • Sonia
    10 months ago

    How exciting Sam! I just love buying and planting plants, even though I have to pace myself otherwise my knees start to groan. What tree did you choose, if any? I love Fatsias, such a burst of green in a garden and evergreen too. Perfect time to plant too as nature tends to water the plants for you!


    E D how funny! The other day I was on a well know social network site and started to comment, but the screen juddered and my comment went on another post instead, and it wouldn’t let me delete! Felt a right idiot.......


  • Jonathan
    10 months ago

    I really like the Fatsia Japonica.
    As far as the tree goes- I really like the cotinus suggestion and the Red Robin. What ever you do make sure you buy at least 8’ high - it won’t be thick enough but it will have presence and if you keep taking the top out of it, it will be at least a decade until you wonder if it is too big for the garden

  • rachelmidlands
    10 months ago

    Ooh, I love shopping for plants. My car looks the same when I go out shopping with my mum, usually just intend to get a few pansies then come out with a jungle:-) That fatsia is stunning, mines been in a pot for three years and not half as big. Can’t wait to see everything when it’s planted up.

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    Teatime stopped play...

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    The tree is alemanchier canadensis. Luck of the garden centre draw. Fatsia japonica, obvs (, half price at £50). Hellebore I forget, and anemone ditto.

  • E D
    10 months ago

    Yep, exciting!

    Hope your wall will stay standing... :-0

  • obobble
    10 months ago

    Looking good. Some cyclamen would add winter colour

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    10 months ago

    The tree is amelanchier canadensis, smaller than the fatsia japonica which was a bargain at £50 (half price), hellebore not sure which one, but the common name is Christmas Bells. I should've got three of these but forgot. Anemone something or other and the wrong fern (I was supposed to get an evergreen one). But I'm very happy. I'll plant the other beds tomorrow.

  • Sonia
    9 months ago

    Looking good! Rain’s good for the plants. If you find the fountain is too ferocious remove the head, it won’t get blocked up so much either. Love the sound of a fountain.

  • Patrina
    9 months ago

    Wow gorgeous love a bit of water in the garden.

  • Sonia
    15 days ago

    Sam I would love to see your yarden now, if you don’t mind? Summer is always the best time 😊

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Hi Sonia. Here you go! I've also branched out into the back lane behind my yard. Hope your garden is looking lovely. I saw a nice zinc planter of yours in another post.

  • Ellie
    15 days ago

    oh yes, would Love some update pics on this one!

  • Sonia
    15 days ago

    Sam it’s fab! I do love old metal containers for plants. Love the pond and the back lane planting. Who doesn’t love a bit of pink! My garden has gone crazy with all this rain and it’s a jumble of colour. No planting plan, just impulse purchases. Here’s one bit, please excuse the rain. My favourite is the orange Crocosmia. If you have space then squeeze one in somewhere. 😊🌸

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Lovely! I have crocosmia too! It's just starting to flower. I'll get some better pics in the next day or so. If it stops raining.

  • Sonia
    15 days ago

    There’s a heatwave on the way.........🙏

  • E D
    15 days ago

    Looking fantastic, Sam. 👌

    Would love to see your entire ‘yarden’.

    Maybe share it in Sonia’s new garden thread? 🙂

  • Sonia
    15 days ago

    Please do Sam! 😊

  • Ellie
    15 days ago

    Not sure what's going on with the app, couldn't see these updated posts!

    Sam, looks fab! Loads of colour

  • Jules Mc
    15 days ago

    Looks fab Sam.
    Hope you're feeling a bit better now x

  • Sam Potter
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Thanks Jules! I'm getting there! Looking forward to being fully well so I can get on with all my half finished projects. And trying not to nag my other half to do stuff while I'm lolling on the sofa!

  • Jules Mc
    15 days ago

    Glad to hear it Sam.
    In the meantime, giving instructions whilst reclining on the sofa is a legitimate hobby and interest for your CV don't you know??? 🤣

  • AMB
    10 days ago

    Sam it is looking absolutely lush! Well done!

Ireland
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