Garden makeover on a shoestring: part 1

Garden makeover before low res

The little garden was one of the most exciting things about moving to our new house – well, for me anyway. For the last 10 years I’ve lived in various flats… modern ones, old ones, big ones, small ones, but never ones with a garden. So, with secateurs in hand, a garden makeover is my new summer project.

The house is a typical Victorian terrace with a typical Victorian garden to match: fairly long and narrow and bordered on all sides with fences. The previous owners had obviously not been the greenfingered sort and the plot we’ve inherited is a bit of a hotchpotch of paving, gravel, decking and an uninspiring selection of overgrown shrubs.

But it could be so much more! I’ve been eagerly collecting gardening inspiration on Pinterest and here are a few of the ideas I have so far…

Garden structure moodboard text

The fence panels around the garden are a bit drab, so I plan to revamp them in the only way I know how… paint! As decorating is my thing, I don’t see why I can’t apply the same principals outdoors so I’m going to start by creating a fresh canvas using a pale grey stain on the fence called ‘Silver Birch‘, then add some splashes of colour which will look nice and bright even when the plants aren’t flowering. The photo of the pots in my moodboard is from Farrow & Ball and I’ve used that as the inspiration for my green, lavender, blue and purple accent colours which I’ll use on planters, trellis, my picnic table and anything else that gets in the way of my paintbrush!

Thrifty gardening tips moodboard

I’ve set myself the challenge of doing everything on as much of a shoestring as possible. I’ll be thriftily revamping the existing elements where I can and I want to learn how to save seeds and propagage cuttings. I’ll be going back to Heather’s concrete pot tutorial to make my own planters and have invested in an ingenious tool so I can turn all the free newspapers that come through the door into little pots for seedlings. I’m also breeding succulents like a demon (I have my own little hen and chick zoo on the kitchen windowsil) and raided Mum’s garden for perennials that can be divided and shared.

Garden planting moodboard

With the plants I’d like to go for a cottage gardeny feel. Partly because I prefer gardens with have a relaxed and natural look, and partly because this way I can use a mix of purse-friendly perennials and wild flower seeds to fill the beds fast. I’ve been stealthily foraging old seedheads from verges and sprinkling them about in the garden so with any luck some poppies, aquilegia and alliums might spring up next year. In a few months I’ll pop in some bulbs as well, which will hopefully multiply on their own to add some colour in spring. My best bargain find has been the ‘dying plant shelf’ at Homebase. I’ve worked out when they reduce the plants that are on their way out and, if I rescue them quickly enough, they perk up in no time! I’ve got a lovely clematis, honeysuckle, cranesbill, lavender, salvia and speedwell so far for no more than a pound a pop.

Cleared garden low res

So here’s where we’ve got to now. There’s still lots to do, but at least with some of the giant shrubs cut back and the borders tidied I can see what I have to work with. So, as soon as Hurricane Bertha moves on I’ll be out with my nifty new sprayer to freshen up the fence, and I’ve already painted my picnic bench in subtle ‘Green Ground’ and ‘Calluna’ from my beloved Farrow & Ball. Stay tuned for the next phase of operation Garden on a Shoestring and follow my Pinterest board for more thrifty garden design ideas!

Follow Decorator’s Notebook’s board Garden on a shoestring on Pinterest.

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