The plot thickens

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... and thickens, as the rain continues to fall. Despite the mud, the revamp continues.

IT’S not a pretty sight – or site for that matter.

Determined to cast off a life on the sofa surrounded by chocolates, I took up my sledgehammer on Boxing Day and smashed the rest of the paving slabs into bits.

Messy as it looks, there’s now a recognisable path through the cleared area.

This replaces the former wobbly paving slabs death trap which used to fling visitors wildly into the nearest spiny bush.

Next job is removing the rubble – I think I’ll hire a skip. The other half won’t want that lot in his car!

After that, it’s a matter of enriching the newly-dug soil on both sides of the path with organic material (from the compost heap).

There’s always bindweed popping up from the hedge, so I’ll have to carefully remove any of the brittle white roots I find. (Even if you leave a tiny length in the soil, it will form a vigorous new plant and will become the bane of your life.)

Then, a weedproof membrane will go down, in preparation for the final coating of gravel.

I have gravel in other parts of the garden and I love the way it provides a lovely backdrop for plants, supresses weeds but still allows a bit of self-seeding from things like lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) or Californian poppies.

Gravel is easy enough to lay, but you always need more than you think.

It’s cheapest to buy it loose in bulk, but that’s also the hardest work! Having a tonne or two of gravel dumped outside your house means you’re going to have to shift it pretty quickly, or you’ll be obstructing your street.

I’m opting for 20kg bags, which are (just) light enough to maneouvre.

My garden is terraced, being on a hillside, so I don’t have the option of using a wheelbarrow.

At least in bags, it’s easier to move.

There’s a vast array of gravel (and coloured glass chippings) to choose from. I’d hate to impose my taste on anyone but my advice would be to plump for something the complements your planting and the material your house is made from.

Pea gravel, a mixture of neutral shades, is a good all-rounder and one of the cheapest gravels you can buy, at about £4.50 per 20kg bag.