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.

If you enjoyed this post please hit a button to share with a friend
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone
Navy cobweave blanket Decorator's Notebook shop

5 tricks to take better photos at ‘golden hour’

  It’s been a busy few weeks for Decorator’s Notebook with some exciting developments on the horizon. We can’t wait to tell you all what we’ve been up to and what we’re planning in the months to come, so keep an eye out for updates here on the blog. You might not know that Bethan… 

Read More »

£20 off Campfire screen print for Father's Day

£20 off retro campfire prints for Father’s Day!

Do you know a Dad who still fancies himself as a boy scout? If so we have a brilliant Father’s Day gift for him! And even better, there’s a whopping £20 off our Campfire screenprint (was £60 now £40). Feux De Camp captures all the things Dads do best – cook-outs, camping, fishing, den building… 

Read More »

HangingTable DIY

DIY: hanging bedside table

There’s something incredibly pleasing about natural wood against a fresh white wall. This idea for turning a slice of tree into a hanging bedside table by Caitlin from Merrythought is so simply brilliant I had to share it. She used a piece of black walnut wood that was hanging around in her uncle’s barn, but… 

Read More »

Summer kanthas from Decorator's Notebook

Summer collection kantha quilts are here!

Aren’t they just stunning? The wonderful ladies at Basha have been hard at work over the last couple of months making our new collection of vintage sari kantha quilts and I have to say, I think they’ve outdone themselves again! The 12 new designs have just been released in the Decorator’s Notebook shop. Each is… 

Read More »

Walls covered in burlap hessian

The 7 secrets stylists use to give upcycled interiors a sophisticated edge

Upcycling salvaged materials can be a fantastic way to give your home a really individual look, but it’s not an easy style to get right. Although the finished result may look effortlessly thrown together, get it wrong and you could end up creating the furniture equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. The owner of this warehouse-style apartment,… 

Read More »

View from The Ethicurean Restaurant in spring - Decorator's Notebook blog

My perfect day at The Ethicurean restaurant and Barley Wood walled garden

As a lover of all things seasonal, homegrown and foraged, The Ethicurean restaurant and Barley Wood walled garden has been on my ‘must visit list’ for a while, so I couldn’t believe my luck when a card popped into my letterbox last week from my gorgeous friend Emma and her husband Mike, inviting me to… 

Read More »


7 quick tips for hosting the perfect picnic

I love May. The hawthorn blossom is well and truly out so we can begin casting our clouts with confidence, two bank holiday weekends stretch ahead of us and there’s that blissful window of weather with cool sunny evenings paired with warm spring days. None of this is guaranteed of course, but the sun looks… 

Read More »

Decorator's Notebook meets textile designer Nancy Straughan

Meet the Maker: Nancy Straughan

Whether you’re a regular blog reader or have popped over to browse from our shop site, it’s easy to see that nature inspires nearly everything we do. From our lovely dipped-glaze pottery made from earth-dug terracotta clay to our landscape cushions featuring our favourite outdoor environments, natural materials and motifs are everywhere in the Decorator’s… 

Read More »