Today’s post is a little different, and not something I originally intended to publish, but as BritVoyage is a travel and lifestyle blog, there’s nothing wrong with sharing some home updates. Last year we were settling into our house, spending most of our time and money on painting walls, buying furniture, and replacing dodgy wiring; this year we decided to fix our dodgy garden.
When we first bought the house, we thought the garden was lovely: a previous owner had laid decking and a pergola, which attracted an array of birds, and they had planted a few climbers and other bits to add a splash of colour. However, as winter passed and spring arrived, we realised the impracticality of it. Within a couple of months, a vixen had moved into the area underneath our decking and had a kit, the plants in the flowerbeds had overgrown, and weeds had abducted our lawn.
We didn’t quite have the funds to call in a landscaper, but we had had enough of the mess (and bird poop from the pergola) so Dan decided to rip up the decking and lay some turf.
Just like anything, when you’re doing a larger project, the area will look a mess before it looks any good. Dan pulled up the railway sleepers forming that horrible border in the centre of our garden, and we discovered a pipe that ran directly into the middle of it. Frustrating! So he took a risk and just cut it off.
Then he and his friend ripped up the decking and I was desperate to find out what was under there.
I won’t lie – it was hard work. They were sweating through a hot May Saturday, and I’m pretty sure a few chunks of wood flew up and hit them square in the face. All that work to find out that all that was underneath the decking was the old garage.
Couldn’t have been less exciting.
Day one ended with the two boys filling in the hole with rubble, rocks and dirt
Day two started by looking like this.
In an attempt to get rid of the icky grass, the boys had to dig a couple of inches out of the ground, where they discovered that our ground was basically just clay, so their forks and shovels were essentially bouncing back. Once they did manage to dislodge the concrete, they used it to fill the rest of the hole at the back of the garden. The aim was to get it as flat as possible, because what’s worse than having an awful slope in the back?
Then, they used compost to create a softer, more fertile base for the turf to lay on. The downside to that though was that the area suddenly erupted with midges and flies, and there was a very faint smell of poop.
Dan and I spent our evening laying more and more compost, and stamping it down to make it more compact. We did our best to flatten all the lumps and bumps, but I don’t think we did as well as we could have done.
On day three, we laid the turf – and by we, I mean Dan and his friend.
Dan ordered the turf online, and I must admit that it was really good quality. People I know have bought it from DIY stores and had to lay browning grass, but ours looked fab.
I must be honest, it looked a lot better than I thought it would, even with the awkward lines.
Afterwards, we turned our attention to the flowerbeds. In an aim to limit weed breakthrough, we laid bin liners on top of the old, icky dirt, then layered compost to level it, and finished with top soil. It took us quite a few bags of each, but it was worth it for the final piece.
Despite doing such a good job of landscaping so far, Dan and I are not particularly green fingered. We have no idea what plants are the best for certain areas, when to plant them, or even how; plus, we don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to gardening, so Dan had the idea of putting slate into the flowerbeds. Initially, I was a bit sceptical, but thankfully, I relented and allowed Dan to buy a few bags of blue slate – It completely changed the feel of the garden.
While he was out buying slate, Dan picked up a tub of white masonry paint and we set to work on the old garage wall. It’s incredible the difference a lick of paint can do.
By the end of the third day, instead of an overgrown mess, which was frankly quite dangerous, we had a tidy, minimalist garden, with a much more appealing lawn. We’re really happy with how it’s looking so far, although we do have a long way to go yet.
- Paint the sleepers a neutral colour
- Purchase and lay composite decking
- Plant flowers to brighten up the side along the wall
- Place a bird house at the end of the garden
- Grab some garden furniture