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Good morning all.

Firstly a quick introduction, im Steve, im 24 years old and have just moved in with my partner of nearly 4 years,

We have a flat mixed in with a lot of OAP's and basically our communcal garden at the front of our building has not really been looked after so my partner and i thought we'd spruce it up a bit.

Basically its a square lawn with edging of weeds and such with a large circular flower bed in the center, around a 4-6m diameter. Unfortunately before the lawn and such was laid there used to be garages there and as such there is about 3 inch of soil (if that) before you hit solid concrete.

My issue is that i have no taken most of the (very overgrown) grass out of the circular flower bed area etc but there is only around 1inch of soil left till you hit concrete, what should i do? buy a load of fertilizer and then make a kind of mound to plant things into? Like the title says i am a total newbie to gardening and will accept any advice offered =-)

One other thing, we have also purchased a bird feeder which is designed to be stabbed into the ground, how deep is good enough to make sure it will stand up to birds having a go at it etc?

Thanks all for your advice and my deepest apologies on the rather longwinded post!

Hi and welcome fro South Carolina. You do have a problem. If it were me, I would try to do some raised bed type planting. Fill the area with some good dirt 6 to 12 inches deep. Try planting only those things that have a shallow root system.

The bird feeder needs to be in the ground a couple of inches if it's not a heavy bird feeder. The heavier the feeder the deeper you want to put it into the ground so it will be stable.

You will learn that gardening and feeding the birds is not a science. It's a lot of trial and error and often just plain luck. Good luck!!!!
Hi Steve,
Welcome. Glad you found us. You have come to the right place for great advice. I agree with Dale, I would find some nice material ( garden centers and the like have stackable stones for round plantings or you can use recycled materials of you choice for making the "container") you limit is your imagination. Then depending on your soil you fill with you may or may not need to address fertilizer. Using ready to plant compost available at most garden centers will keep you from needing fertilizer right away. This helps the pocketbook a little in the initial outlay.;) Choose plants that will do well for the light and water conditions in that area. If you have limited water take that into consideration.
Please keep us posted on how your project progresses. We will be glad to offer support to you.
Great gardening to you!

Thanks for the advice.

what has been mentioned is pretty much what i thought i would do.

Basically there are some recycled wooden fencing which is about 6" tall and runs about 1 - 2m in length, i was thinking dig down to the concrete, seat them on it, then use soil to the top of the wood and then increase to a mound etc in the middle.

What kind of soil should i use? just bog standard soil or compost?
Hello and welcome to our little piece of heaven Steve. You will find with gardening it is trial and error. One thing is for sure you will change things around eventually.

I have clay soil so I always buy commercial compost and add to the soil and build it up. I have lots of raised beds and add the compost to them. It works for me. Good luck.
Hi Steve and welcome to our Forums. First let me say that once you start gardening you will surely get bitten by the gardening bug.
Will your landlord (property owner) let you brake up and remove the concrete in the circle where you want to plant? Two strong young guys like you with rented tools should be able to do that in a weekend or 2 and you might be able to get the landlord to pay for the tool rental. If you can remove the concrete you won't be limited on what you want to plant. If you can't do this then a raised bed is your best hope. You could also turn the area into a seating area with a bench and some varying sizes of plant containers to out line the area and do container gardening which can be beautiful. The containers can go with you if or when you relocate. Go to a gardening center and check out different gardening books and magazines to get an idea of what style you would like the garden area to look like and go from there. The seating area and container gardening might be cheaper and easier way to get into gardening as a "newby", as you get more money and confidence you can build on the containers and add some in ground low growing plants around the containers that don't need deep root growing area. You could put the pole of the bird feeder into a large pot filled with sand and decorative rock. You also don't want to locate the bird feeder in a garden bed as the seeds from the bird feeder will scatter and turn into weeds in your bed.

I hope some of these suggestions help a bit. Take a picture of the area and post it here and let us know about your sun exposure. Your weather is a lot like that of the Pacific Northwest here and we have a few gardens from that area on the forum.
Best of luck and fun to you in your gardening. I hope to see you around the forums and look forward to seeing how your garden is growing.
Hello Steve and Welcome to the place...looks like you have lots of great advice already...
You should be able to get a good top soil from your local garden center/store ..although I would think it would take several bags and a bit of cost that way...once you get your raised beds built you should be able to have a truck load delivered...are you planing to compost? as that will be of help come time to add in the furture to feed all your wonderul plants ...Look forward to seeing you around the place...
Steve, with such shallow soil, your bird feeder will probably need lateral supports to keep it from being tipped in a good breeze. Crossed members at the base and then triangular supports from the outboard edges of the cross to the feeder post should do the trick. Attachment method would depend on materials used.
Hey Steve good luck on your project. I hope you get into it soon and then you will be planting things forever. You may want to use containers if you need to plant something with deeper root systems. look around and you will be surprised at what you can find to work with.
Welcome from the Hudson Valley of New York, yes, they are all giving you good suggestions, the only thing I can add is don't put your bird feeder in your garden or all the seeds the birds spill will come up basically as weeds.
Welcome Steve,
and don't be shy. Many of us consider ourselves "newbies" even after years of playing in the dirt!
One thing you could do to add instant wow is a contained water garden...this could be anything from a shallow pot to a metal trough, add some water and bog plants, a few fish to ward off mosquitoes and there you go!
If there is any construction in your area, you might ask for fill dirt. You could amend this with compost and some top soil and save quite a bit of money on soil for a raised planting area.
Good luck and let us know if we can help.
Howdy from Utah Steve. You are along way from here, I am so very glad you could make it. WELCOME. Relax, have fun, jump in and ENJOY!!!!!!!
Hi Steve, Welcome to a great place to learn and have fun, I think you might be better off doing container gardening and maybe use a moss on the ground or some thing that grows low and can take walking on, you can place your feeder in a large pot and plant around the base of it, its all ready been said that the seeds from the feeder will become weeds but if you plant tall growing grass you won't see the weeds or get as many, you can go crazy with your containers and make it a fun place to sit and relax, I'm sure the two of you will enjoy the garden for years to come.
Wow what a warm reception lol.

In response:

Thank you all for the wonderful welomes, have been on a lot of forums in my youth and i doubt i have ever received such a lovely welcome!

Regarding the digging up of the concrete im afraid that will be a no go as the place where i live is owned by the local government and they wont let us do anything apart from plant stuff. So basically raised bed is the only way i can really go although i like the idea of container/contained water garden, sounds very good!

Had our first magpie and squirrel attack the bird feeder, was wonderful to watch i placed it so far away its hard to see the birds though, referencing the dropped seeds turning to weeds, how much would we be talking about and would it be too much a saturday weeding session couldnt fix?

For all the peeps saying hello, hello back at you, thanks for allowing me to be around such wonderful people =-)

Just getting to 11am here in the freezing cold UK so hope you're all sleeping well! =-)
Yes Steve we are a friendly bunch. Lots of good people here, and most of us know each other from other gardening sites that go back for many years. Bob our fearless leader was part of a site that sold a couple of years ago and when it became uncomfortable after the new owners took over many of us started to search for other places to roust, for one reason or another we couldn't find the right fit, but met many new friends at the other places. Last Nov. Bob decided to give it a go and developed this site and we flocked in and invited the new friends we met along the way and they invited their friends, so here we are with the friendliest of friends and always looking to add to our list of friends. We are glad you stumbled upon GF and do hope you find it comfortable and helpful. Look around and please jump in where ever you like. See you around the threads. If you need any help there is always a mod on hand to help you.
Sounds like you have some great ideas of your own and are putting them to work already. That means newbie might not be the right term for you;).
Now about your bird seed weeds, they are easily pulled from the ground quickly if you catch them early. They have small fine roots. When weeding if you water the ground first the weeds pull up with roots easy. That's the thing about weeding is making sure to get the roots. If you leave roots behind the weeds actually get stronger.:eek: Also keeping some type of mulch down will help deter weed growth.
As for soil you can never go wrong with compost. Usually a little cheaper than your top soil or potting soils. Plants you are planting should be taken in to consideration for what they need/like. Local garden shops offer great advice but may also upsell you to something you don't really need. Let us know what you are planting and we can make suggestions for soil;)
Hi Steve welcome from the PNW. Glad you found us.
Wow! I though I had a challenge with my soil.
First the bird seed: I got tired of pulling up those weeds so I put my seed in the microwave for five minuets or so. That kills the seeds but it’s still good for the birds.

Everyone has different tastes but I like swindy’s idea of a sitting area. In your situation I would be very concerned about drainage. I like to do as much as I can for as little cash as I can. So here goes: Since you said you have wood available to you I would build boxes and make sure there was a little gap under them to allow for drainage. You could line them with plastic to preserve the wood but drainage is crucial. Paint them a pleasing color or colors. Ask around maybe your neighbors have old paint they’d let you have. Tell them what you are doing and they may even contribute plants or pots. Never know what people have hiding in there sheds and garages. Someone may even come up with a bench or some chairs and a table. The boxes would save you the money on containers and on how much soil/compost you’d need to buy. Make some 12” and others 18” deep if you can. Make them as wide and long as will suit the area. I’d sit them pleasingly around your bench or chairs. Use the taller box to grow taller plants as a wind brake if needed or just as a back drop. Supplement those with some nice pots. You can grow nearly anything in containers. I have a lovely smoke bush in a box that’s 3’ X 3’ and 18” deep and a lilac bush in another.
If the cement is in decent condition I’d shovel all 3” of the soil you have into the boxes then amend it with good compost again saving some money. You could clean it with a pressure washer and stain it. If it isn’t amend the little soil you have and could grow a plant that will take foot traffic. OR! Keep your eyes open for someone doing a remodel or demolishing a building and ask for bricks. The worst they can say is no. You don’t need to cover the entire area just as much as is pleasing to you and your partner. You could leave the pots on the cement and use the bricks to highlight and raise the seating area a bit.
Don’t try to do it all over night. Remember everyone has different tastes so don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. If you and your partner like it it’s perfect. I can guarantee you two things. One you will kill a few plants and two you will move the ones that survive. Most importantly enjoy yourself and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Too many gardeners work to make a beautiful garden but never sit back and enjoy it.
Keep us posted on your progress and ask if you have questions.
Noone here ever laughs at the newbie, or we would all be ousted. Welcome and feel free to ask questions. Noone will think that you are dumb, just learning. That is the greatest thing about horticulture, it is always changing and evolving. It has been my life, education and world since I was 8, so 40 years and I still love it. I have to wonder why my tomatoes look so bad this year though. My engineer hubby figured that one out. Too much organic matter that wasn't broken down. He is a card. An ace in my book. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to