We moved into our house 18 months ago and after having lived in a 2nd floor flat for 8 years we were so excited to have a garden. It’s only small but the most important thing was having some outside space for Little H.
Unfortunately there was more moss than grass, and absolutely no drainage so it became like a swamp every time it rained.
We moved in during the winter and it looked like this:
Like most people after moving house we didn’t really have any spare money to do anything with the garden at first so we just made the best out it last summer, added some colour, and put up with it being a bit of a mess.
This year however we had big plans and needed a proper garden by the time the nice weather came round. Due to booking a holiday we still didn’t have a very big budget for a garden make-over but we’ve managed to pull of quite an impressive make-over (if we do say so ourselves!) without spending a fortune.
I thought I’d share our garden make-over with you all, to inspire anyone with a small garden and/or a small budget.
So here is how we completed our small garden make-over on a budget…
Our garden was made up of a small patio area by the back doors which leads up to a shed, and a patch of grass that went from the back of the house to the fence.
The garden is north facing so we don’t get a huge amount of sun, but the sun we do get in the summer is at the end of the garden by the back fence, so we decided that we wanted some decking here to put the table and chairs on.
My in-laws had lots of extra decking left over from their garden which they kindly donated to us. We had absolutely no idea where to begin so we roped my parents into helping us, and my husband and dad watched a few YouTube videos!
I won’t explain how to fit decking as I am by no means an expert, but if you are thinking of doing it yourself then I would recommend watching a video like this one.
In total it took 2 full days to fit the decking, and we spent the following…
Decking – Free
Sand & Gravel – £20
Membrane – Free (donated with the decking)
Decking stain/protector – £25
Total – £45
Our grass had just turned to mud last autumn and had never recovered, any amount of rain caused a mud bath – here’s an example of our garden after some heavy rain a few weeks ago!
It was clear that there was no point laying new turf down until we had sorted the drainage problems, so we decided to sort that out and then put down some artificial grass.
Artificial grass isn’t cheap though, for our small area of approx 4.5ft x 3ft the quotes were coming out at around £300-400 for decent quality grass. My mum had seen a local garden centre selling off cuts so we headed over there and managed to find 2 bits that we could put together to fit our garden .
Again we had no idea how to lay artificial grass, so once more we watched YouTube videos and read up on a few tutorials. If you want to do it yourself try watching this video and check out this guide.
Laying the grass took 2 days (possibly would have been less if we hadn’t had kids in the garden at the time!) and was relatively easy.
Grass – £150
Sand and gravel – £30
Membrane – Free (donated with the decking)
Tape – £20
Total – £200
We got rid of the water butt in the corner of the garden and extended the paving slabs further across the garden to the side fence to allow the grass to be a rectangle rather than a more awkward L shape.
There’s a drain cover in the corner that we need to be able to access so we couldn’t extend the paving slabs all the way to the fence. We weren’t really sure what to do with this square in the corner but we found a pallet in the pile of scrap wood at the garden centre exactly the same size as Little H’s playhouse and we (my mum) had a brainwave!
The pallet fit the empty area perfectly, sat over the drain cover and would be easy to lift up if we needed to get to the drain.
We covered the pallet in a few bits of left over grass, nailed one of the spare decking panels to the side of the crate, and put Little H’s playhouse on top!
Paving slabs – £70 (you can get cheaper but we needed to match the ones we already had)
Crate – Free
Left over grass – free
Total – £70
The End Result
And here is our finished garden!
We’ve spent another £50 or so on plants and bits & pieces so altogether the garden makeover has cost us approximately £350, which I don’t think is bad at all for such a drastic change.
If you don’t have access to free materials try Gumtree – there’s lots of people trying to get rid of old materials for free or very cheap just so they don’t have to take them to the tip!
We’ve already had our first BBQ of the year, and Little H and I sat out there most days after school last week. We’re really looking forward to finally having a usable garden for the summer – let’s just hope we get some decent weather this year!
So as you can see you can achieve a garden make-over on a budget. You don’t need to spend thousands or employ professionals – you might just have to rope in your family or friends to help!