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Hampshire, United Kingdom Gb

Free border design software? Anyone had experience of any?

As part of my volunteering I tend the outside plants / tubs at the centre.
We have a strip 25 yards long x app. 1 yard wide. adjacent to car park, south westerly facing, very poor soil [think stones & clay]. It is a charity so spending money on soil improvement is not an option, it is what it is

This border gets abused by clients walking on it for car boot access so the "soil" gets more compacted, plus it bakes in summer

After many struggles fighting indifference & trampling from clients it has been decided to plant shrubs, the type disparagingly often referred to as "car park shrubs", think daphne, forsythia, deutzia, lavatera.
The sort that look after themselves, can be neglected, can be hacked about if get too large, thorn free, but flower & maybe have berries, and top of the list, cheap & available from supermarkets from under a fiver

I have some shrubs accumulated last year, in pots, all ready to go in. Now ideally I'd like a design programme to give a pictorial representation to the committee, not for approval but to show what i hope this scraggy & neglected border could become in a few years
I know in my head what it could become, just trying to show non gardeners whose idea of a border is double row of red soldier pelargoniums fringed with lobelia

My question is anyone used any Free border design software? Searches turn up quite a few, but hoping someone here has used one that works
Here is the blank canvas

Dug_over_03 Dug_over_01



Interesting dilemma Gg. Sorry I don’t know of any border design software, but there are plenty of books in the library offering “design” advice. There’s also a regular design feature in the magazine Garden Answers.

My humble suggestion would be to intersperse your shrubs with grasses like Stipa tenuissima and surround them with gravel. Hakonechloa and Ophiopogon would also be a nice contrast. Good luck 🙂

7 Dec, 2019


Despite doing some design work, I never mastered the art of using technology to do drawings either I'm afraid - I just did mine by hand, with an artistic but rough representation of what it would look like in a few years, using pencils or acrylic paint on overlaying perspex sheets, along with showing lots of images in gardening books, although in later years, also showing images that were on line.

One thing strikes me though - because the border is narrow and in front of a solid fence, and as cars will be parked right up to the front edge, maybe smaller or narrow, taller shrubs might be better - Deutzia and Lavatera will arch forward in no time, not being able to spread out at the back, meaning cars may get scratched or have to park a bit further back.

7 Dec, 2019


I feel you are over-complicating a rather simple project. Since you already know the end result - it's done already!
You don't need to buy expensive software because you most likely already have what you need to do the job. Just about every word processing software has the capacity to create charts & diagrams and perform computations. You can import photographs, audio, video clips, etc. It's only limited by your imagination - honestly. Microsoft Word, Excel, PhotoShop are a few that come to mind. PowerPoint!! That's the one! Do this in PowerPoint! PowerPoint works beautifully with all these other programs - you can bring in photos from your camera and Excel spreadsheets. Go to it.

I agree to stay with simple low growing plants - dwarf hydrangeas, azaleas, hostas & day lilies are very economical - you can divide them, some viburnums are good choices. Scrap Forsythias.

7 Dec, 2019


You could intersperse some ground cover roses - they flower for a long time and won't mind the clay.

7 Dec, 2019


Thanks everyone, low growing sounds good, I'll bear that in mind once the supermarkets start with spring shrubs

Grasses I did think of, but they would require some "tidying" maintenance, plus I'm not sure they would appreciate grasses.
I did try a wild flower border for a few years. Some considered them "weeds", and looking "untidy". It is an uphill struggle at times.
Something about prophets in own country? ;-)

8 Dec, 2019


Look for Euonymus fortunei varieties, as well as Euonymus pierrolino, Skimmias, Hebes such as H. albicans, H. odora, H. Green Globe (the smaller evergreen varieties). Perhaps the odd taller one inserted here and there - its a shame because Tesco had some cheap shrubs recently - I got a Nandina domestica (the basic, tall one) for £6 four weeks ago, which gets about 6 feet but doesn't spread out too much sideways. That particular one produces red berries, but is hard to find these days, its all the fancy varieties in the garden centres now. Also, in late spring, if you have a Lidl, check what they've got available - they'll be small plants in 9 cm pots, but I got Hebe odora and green globe there for a pound each last year... two of each, they've done fine, grown on well.

8 Dec, 2019


Thanks Bamboo, there's a Lidl very close by which I use so will keep eyes open come spring

8 Dec, 2019


Bamboo mentioned Nandina ... there are various varieties, they are all evergreen and need no maintenance at all. One of mine is N. Obsessed, leaves green, red and bronze all year and just 2ft high. Very useful shrub!

8 Dec, 2019


Very expensive at the garden centre though, Sheilabub... I've been looking for the basic Nandina domestica for a long time - I like that one because of the berries, and its a bit like bamboo to look at, though I'll admit its not a tidy grower...

8 Dec, 2019


They’re only £5 each at one local GC Bamboo 🙂

8 Dec, 2019


Crikey... despite the takeover of our local Wyevale and the prices being a bit cheaper, Nandina Obsessed was £18 two weeks ago... in a 5 litre pot and a good size, admittedly, but even so...

8 Dec, 2019


Nandina Obsessed is a gorgeous shrub Sheila with a very elegant stature. I didn't think the price is unreasonable. Heck you buy it once and enjoy it for the rest of your life. It's an investment that everybody will benefit from.

8 Dec, 2019


Maybe they’re comparable: mine was in a 2 litre pot, and Savins in Herts is known for its bargain prices.

9 Dec, 2019


I have no experience of design software but I see you have some plants ready to go in. Please tell us what you have and then we might be able to advise you of possible purchases to augment what you have. When I designed our garden I devoured the gardening books written by Dr. Hessayon. His advice was choose a background of evergreens to provide colour all year. You could add some deciduous shrubs which will give stem colour in the winter months. Until we know what you have already it is difficult to advise on specific plants. Plants need to be planted with growing room between them or you will need to get rid of a lot pretty quickly. In the spaces left to provide the growing room you can plant cheap supermarket herbaceous perennials, bulbs or annuals. As the basic design plants grow up and out the filler plants can be discarded. If you can set out what you have in the space then it will be easier to see what should go where to satisfy your artistic flair. Have a look at the A-Z at the foot of the pages. Eg under 'P' you can look at 'Poor soil'. If you need to give the committee some idea of what you want to achieve cut out pictures of possible plants and make a collage with them. Do not stick them down until you are satisfied you have what you think will work. Please let us know how you are getting on with this very exciting project.

9 Dec, 2019


Also important to consider the aspect of the lot and get the appropriate plants that would thrive in that 'micro-climate'. How many hours of sun? Dappled sun or full on sun? Are there overhanging trees? Taller buildings which will cast a shadow? That fence? Does the water drain away or get muddy? Is the parking lot plowed? Salted? Oily run off?

An alternative idea might be to look to the native plants. What would grow there naturally if not cultivated. I found some absolutely stunning specimens for my own garden that way- Spice Bush, Smoke Bush, Astilbi, Coneflowers, Rudbeckia are a few examples.

10 Dec, 2019


Keeping folk off the border is the big problem, whatever you put in will be relatively small to start with and if it’s a car boot site then folk won’t give a damn about walking on it like you state and the young plants will be trampled over, if you put the plants in then you need to improve the soil, at least round each one, if a jobs worth doing then it has to be done well, the plants you put in will need protecting initially so would suggest putting about three chestnut palings around each one, driven well in, you already have the plants you say, so I cannot see the point in all that fancy techno stuff, some plants that would do well in this situation and are quick to establish are lonicera baggesons gold, senecio, oleria, cotoneaster horizontals, Hebe, physocarpus, Buxus ,Cornus, euonymus,most of these will Grow fairly quick and once you have the desired height can be kept in check by pruning them to, this selection of planting, will give good evergreen in all the shades throughout the year.

11 Dec, 2019


Thanks again folks,
Julien, the idea of protective stakes sounds good, my only hesitation is the general public do walk through & wooden stakes could vanish quickly, or worse, chucked around causing damage

Worth trying once once though.

Hebe are on my "get it" list, and senecio I hadn't thought of but having experience of it that also sounds must have

12 Dec, 2019


Ah yes, Senecio, the shrub, very good workhorse, quite rapid growing, responds well to pruning, now reclassified and given the unlovely name of Brachyglottis - 'Sunshine' and 'Walburton's Dormouse' are the usual ones. If you have a Waitrose that sells plants, they always have this in spring/early summer at a relatively reasonable price, about £6 this year.

12 Dec, 2019


I have some young Lonicera Baggesons Gold that I was intending to grow on for a short hedge which I don't need any more. You are welcome to them but I would have to ask for postage as they will be quite heavy. There are about 10 in 10cm square pots and they are desperate to be planted out or potted on.

12 Dec, 2019


Steragram, Thank you, sounds like a plan, I've no experience of them but a search points suggests they would fit in nicely and be very suitable

could they go bare root to cut postage costs and also make packing easier ? I can re-pot at this end

13 Dec, 2019


I guess so but it won't make much if any difference as the pots are only plastic and pretty light and the pricing for parcels doesn't differentiate for a few ounces. I could bring them indoors for a few days to dry the compost out a bit if you like but the warmer atmosphere might start them growing which you don't want at this time of year.
I looked at the postal rates and they seem to be around six pounds. At all events you wouldn't get ten plants even in poor condition for £6...

If you would still like them please PM me with your address and I'll try to get them to you quickly before Christmas.

13 Dec, 2019


Thanks Steragram, I've PMd you, in the pots sounds just fine, I've no recent experience of sending parcels so the rates were unknown to me

14 Dec, 2019


I wonder how big the car park is. Would it be possible to make a pathway next to the border. It looks to be tarmac. If the car spaces could be extended to allow a footpath between the front of the car and the border you would have a permanent solution. If necessary a retaining fence made from patio decking on edge would keep people on the path instead of in the border.

20 Dec, 2019


ScotsG, the car park is tight as it is, no space for extending or pathways.
The border, edged with railway sleepers is really only there to prevent the cars ploughing into the fence :-(

20 Dec, 2019

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