Update: April 2020
So, it seems Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden makeover team are set to return to our screens, with invites for entries well under way. But let’s be realistic the chances of getting your outdoor space chosen for the green fingered one’s touch is pretty slim (you probably have better odds with the National Lottery!)
But never fear! Because there are some really simple ways to turn your garden into a magical area without breaking the bank so whether you’re looking for garden makeover ideas or want to impress potential home buyers with your gorgeous piece of outside paradise, our 9 top DIY garden projects are the perfect way transform your garden into the oasis it deserves to be.
No matter how lacklustre, how wild, how barren, how ugly or how small your space might be, with a little bit of effort and a heap of imagination you’ll not only have a divine space in which to chill, but you’ll increase your property value too, by up to an amazing 77%, according to a 2019 survey by Post Office Money. And with gardening being one of the top hobbies for us Brits, spending a little time getting your garden into shape reaps huge benefits when it comes to how long it will take you to sell your house and at what price!
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine you’re in the countryside. Birds serenade you, wildflowers sway in the breeze, busy bees buzz about, pollinating the blooms.
Well you can bring a touch of the country to your garden, no matter how small it might be. And – major plus point – such an area is easier to look after than even the most low maintenance of other options, not to mention being far more interesting to look at than a boring patch of turfed lawn.
An area of ‘wildlife meadow’ might contain purple orchids, poppies, daisies and cowslips, to name but a few, and will attract fat bumble bees and butterflies and provide a never-ending blaze of colour from spring to the end of autumn. The National Wildflower Centre are on a mission to get as many people as possible to turn over a small patch of their garden to such a project, and you can find out how on the Eden Project website.
As an aside, for those looking to up sticks and get a quick house sale, not only is this an easy look to achieve, but for many buyers, low maintenance outdoor space is a massive draw and top of many people’s priorities. A recent survey by Foxtons Estate Agents suggests that a neat, easy to maintain garden helps sell a home faster than one that’s elaborately landscaped and covered in exotic plants.
Many of us have wooden panel fences as boundaries. And much as they’re practical, they’re also pretty unsightly, wouldn’t you agree? Or what about a plain wall that was built with little thought of how aesthetically pleasing it might be? Well, the simplest of makeovers can be achieved with a coat of paint. For fences try pastel shades, perhaps of blue or green, or classic grey or even cream makes for a neutral background against which you can display plants, funky mirrors, create a pebble border or hang a sign or two that reflects your character and raises a smile.
And for that drab wall? Well, isn’t it a space just begging for a mural? The right choice can make for a stunning feature in a garden of any size.
Many patios of the past were created using rather bland concrete slabs. Practical – yes. But nice to look at? Err… That’ll be a no. However, rather than the expense (and hard work) of removing and changing them, clever use of a funky rug, some comfy garden furniture and scatter cushions has an instant and truly remarkable effect.
Or, if you fancy going all middle eastern, use bolsters and floor cushions to create a deliciously decadent hippy den. Add some hurricane lamps with candle holders and voila! You’re instantly transported to Morocco, Turkey or Tunisia – the perfect solution if an overseas foray isn’t on the agenda this summer.
Old ladders or step ladders can be used to make a delightful raised area on which to display potted plants and a few strategic ornaments or hurricane lamps. Such high level shelving really adds depth and the feeling of space, thanks to drawing the eye upwards, rather than simply concentrating on plants and features at ground level. A really great way to get your garden good but also a little bit different and unique as not many people tend to get as creative as this!
Colour is all important in gardens large or small. Remember when you were a home buyer? Perhaps you recall walking out into a sea of different shades, or perhaps a cleverly constructed space that used strategic colour to make a statement?
Well, this can, of course, be managed with deliberate planting of vegetation sporting bright flowers. But what about when the blooms aren’t on display? It’s still nice to enjoy splashes of colour the whole year round. This can be cleverly managed with planters, some bright metal paint on a decorative chair, with milk churns or anything else you can think of. The only restriction here is your imagination.
It works really well in a small garden, with colours such as blue, pink or yellow recreating a lovely Mediterranean feel.
OK, so this one takes a little more effort, but the results are pretty striking. And even if you’ve never laid a patio before, it’s not that difficult and within the realms of most people to give it a go.
For small spaces, laying patio slabs on an angle so they make a diamond pattern, with the points facing a lawn area, creates an optical illusion that makes a space appear larger than it actually is.
Check out this Youtube video from DIY suppliers, Wickes, as to how to go about achieving this slightly more daring DIY project.
Plastic, and the harm it’s doing our planet is real hot potato right now (and so it should be). So rather than adding to the humongous amount that’s incinerated, goes to landfill, or is shipped around the globe, why not use plastic bottles as planters. Now, before you think, yuk, that’s hideous, consider that this was one of the themes of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, using darker coloured bottles filled with gravel. And if it’s good enough for them…
While we’re on the subject, there’s much you can do to reduce the use of plastic in your cultivation efforts. From biodegradable pots to reusing plastic in the garden, trusted sources such as Gardener’s World have loads of easy ideas as to how you can do your bit for Mother Nature, while making your outside space more beautiful.
You don’t need a big space to grow tasty veg. In fact, considering most of us have rather crazy 24/7 lives, a big plot is not only difficult to manage, but if you’re looking to tempt buyers who prefer property types that work with their busy lifestyle, then a large vegetable area can actually be off putting to potential purchasers.
Far more appealing is a small, completely portable option using a vegetable trug and a couple of attractive pots or crates. Not only is growing your own fun, but serving the fruits (or in this case, veg) of your labours for dinner is massively satisfying.
And you’ll be doing your bit for sustainability as well!
A garden path is a great addition to any outside space, and doing it with reclaimed red bricks makes for an eye-catching feature. Such a path doesn’t need to be wide (or long) to be a real draw. Lay the bricks long ways and horizontally for an attractive irregular effect, and – thankfully – you don’t need to be a master builder to do this. The easiest (and quickest) way is to seat them in a bed of gravel. If you want to be a little more thorough, dig out and level the path area, add a layer of sand, and place the bricks on top before scattering the gravel around and between the gaps.
If you don’t have any bricks to hand, rather than buying new from a garden centre, head to a local reclamation yard or, once again, our old friends eBay et al for someone looking to get a pile off their hands.
Getting outside and using what is essentially an extension of your home should be something of a priority. Not only is taking advantage of the fresh air and sunlight important for your physical health, more and more evidence is stacking up as to quite how good gardening is for your well-being as well. The Royal College of Physicians states that GPs should be encouraging their patients to self-medicate with what they’re calling ‘Green Care’ – in other words, regularly getting out in the garden and enjoying the mental health benefits of tending your personal space.
You must now be wondering what health benefits you can actually gain from simply spending time in your garden? Let’s take a look at some of them below.
As you can see, there’s a multitude of ways to upgrade your garden, making your own private nirvana in which to relax and wash away the stresses of everyday life.
Gardening not only increases the value of your property but also extends your longevity too, so what on earth are you waiting for? Get out there and get upgrading. With a little bit of effort we can all give Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team a run for their money, and we’ll feel pretty good about what we’re doing as well.