The next stage of the house project is to reconstruct the garden so that the panorama from our kitchen is lush and green.

We are hoping to have good quality artificial turf laid both because it is low maintenance and doesn’t need mowing, feeding or weeding but also because the dogs have a habit of charging up the garden in pursuit of some imaginary prey and then bringing mud and debris back into the house on their paws on their return. It’s not for nothing that November until about April is called “mud season.” But we’ll always have dogs, I hope, so have to find a way of limiting the aftermath.

So before we move the pond and have the turf laid, we had to undertake the messy task of Ā cutting back the overgrown and unmaintained Leylandii that provided screening from the small private estate at the bottom of our garden.

We live in a conservation area that runs to the back of our house but the tall trees around us have tree protection orders on them. Leylandii are generally thought of as herbaceous vermin – there are several legal disputes recorded about them – but we checked with the local council just in case. In fact there’s a young oak tree growing to the left of the Leylandii which needs pruning a bit but we have to wait until permission comes through from the council otherwise we could face a very heavy fine. I’m glad of the Tree Protection Orders because I love to look out of my windows and see mature trees, but they can make managed maintenance a little cumbersome.

Anyway, once they were pruned, the absence of Leylandii showed a hole in that treacherous willow tree that has cost us thousands of pounds in extra underpinning all because our neighbour refuses to cut it down or back properly. It has sentimental value, he says, as it was planted there over 50 years ago by his son, but the fact is that willows do not belong near houses or on top of hills. They suck all the water away from everywhere and cause subsidence.

The next task is to move the pond, first removing all the poisonous fag ends tossed onto our garden by thoughtless builders. After the lawn will come some raised beds and, next year, some flowers. Aw!

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