I know it’s probably tipping it down with rain where you are at the moment and you’re looking out of the window at your garden thinking “why on earth is Mel talking about gardens? Mine currently looks like Glastonbury after a particular wet weekend, broken tent and all!” but it feels like Spring is getting nearer doesn’t it? It is on the horizon; brighter and warmer days are coming and we can all soon enjoy the sanctuary of our gardens or yards instead of being holed up indoors with a furry blanket around our knees and a constant cup of tea in our hands to keep us warm.
I’ve never been much of a gardener. My gardening skills consisted of flattening the garden, putting grass on it and if the bees and butterflies were lucky, I might put a few daffodils in a pot or a hydrangea bush in a corner somewhere. I even managed to kill my hydrangea from over watering which is somewhat ironic seeing as this plant is literally named because of its need for a lot of water.
We are blessed with quite a lovely garden where we currently live. It is 18.5m x 9m and not overlooked, which is a blessing in suburbia! We have a large garden room in the corner which measures 3.5m x 5m but have never used it to its full potential, preferring to store all our junk in there.
Our Garden in the lockdown age
Our garden was an absolute blessing last year in lockdown. Originally, we had a huge oversized trampoline in the back corner unfairly hogging all the sunshine. Our seating area and garden furniture was on the decking around the side of the house, but we never used it as it was always in the shade and felt a little detached from the garden.
We were sat in our camp chairs nestled up next to the trampoline one evening, having a BBQ and trying to enjoy the last bits of sun before the rays disappeared over the trampoline and suddenly, I thought, why are we doing this? We have perfectly good garden furniture to sit on but it’s totally in the wrong corner. A plan started hatching in my mind…
The following weekend we ripped up the decking and moved the trampoline to the side of the house, gone but not forgotten (by the kids unfortunately). We then started researching and pricing up how to turn the corner of our garden into our Mediterranean inspired oasis in Sussex (I wrote about my med inspiration here).
Pricing up the new garden area
We rang around several builders and garden landscapers and the quotes that were coming back were frankly ridiculous and a little eye watering. Some people quoted us £2,500 to have new decking laid down in the 4m x 5m space, the most ridiculous was £4,800 to lay a new patio in the area. He tried to justify it by saying the area needed to be flattened (it was flat, we had previously paid a gardener to returf the whole garden so this had been done), take fencing panels down to get his mini digger in, put a retainer wall at the back and then lay the patio.
Considering we had already priced the patio slabs to be in the region of £500, he was quoting us around £4,000 for labour, skip hire and equipment we absolutely didn’t need, so we politely told him to get on his mini digger and jog on.
We realised, after several quotes, that it was probably best we tackled the garden ourselves so we started looking at gravel. I had seen several images with white Cotswold stone laid down in the garden and loved how it gave an Ibiza beach vibe.
We went with Cotswold Chippings 20mm from www.gravelmaster.co.uk and worked out we would need 2 x 850kg Bulk bag to cover the space at £91 each.
We also bought 2m x 10m membrane to put under the gravel to stop the weeds growing through.
Laying the gravel
It was pretty simple to be honest. First of all, we made sure all the ground was flat and raked with no large rocks or vegetation. You can put down a herbicide to prevent anything growing but as this area of our garden had been under a trampoline for 3 years, it was pretty much dead anyway.
We created a border between the grass and the patio area with some old bricks we had dug up from the ground when we levelled out the space.
We laid the membrane in place first, making sure it covered the whole area and then placed some paving slabs we already had to make a path from the grass to the door of the garden shed. We then tipped the gravel straight on top. You can buy membrane pegs to hold it in place, but seeing as we were tipping nearly 1 ½ tonnes of gravel on top of it, I was pretty certain it wasn’t going anywhere.
Painting the fence
I had already started painting our fence in Cuprinol Iris (I wrote about Cuprinol garden shades here). I wanted to add some colour to our garden all year round and found the brown fence quite unsightly as there was a lot of it! I chose Iris as it reminded me of the blues of the Mediterranean and the white gravel looked absolutely perfect next to it.
DIY Pallet table
Once the fence was painted and the gravel down, we moved our garden furniture into the space. I had previously been gifted the Seychelles garden sofa by Argos, but we found we never used the dining table as it was a little too high for use in the garden.
With the pallet’s leftover from the delivery of the gravel, I decided to paint them in Cuprinol Iris and bought some Melia tiles from Wickes to place on top of the pallet to stop things falling through. I secured the tiles with gorilla glue and a year on they are still holding on strong!
The finishing touches
To complete this area, I hung up some festoon lights and lanterns (our festoons are mains powered, the shed has electricity to it. But you can get battery powered festoons) and added an outdoor rug as my kids love to run around barefoot and the gravel is not kind to little feet!
All that was left to do was to add my potted plants (that were still alive), candles, cushions and throws and that was us for the whole of the spring and summer. We had the best time in this space and all for £300.
- Cotswold Chippings 20mm from Gravelmaster – £182 (2 x 850kg @ £91 each)
- 2m x 10m membrane from Gravelmaster – £48
- Bricks and Paving slabs – free! (Go on places like Facebook marketplace or ask friends and family if they have any spare)
- Cuprinol Iris Paint – £14 per litre (we needed 3 litres to cover this corner)
- Pallet – free with your gravel!
- Pallet paint – leftover from the fence paint
- Melia Tiles from Wickes – £28 for a SQM (perfect pallet size)
And the rest…
Now to relax and enjoy
Well, as much as you can enjoy the garden in Spring. If last Spring was anything to go by, I’m hopeful for a warm one and making the most of this space again.
I am not exaggerating when I say this little corner of our garden was an absolute game changer last year and we spent just as much time eating, entertaining and relaxing out here as we did in our house.
And before anyone asks, most of the items you see in my images can be left outside in the garden, apart from a few cushions. We still have the large garden room so if it does decide to rain heavily, we’ll throw the cushions and blankets in there. And if we don’t? It’s not the end of the world, everything can be washed and thrown back out into the garden to dry again.
Not just for the day time
We also love this space in the evenings to! With the help of the solar panelled lanterns and festoon lights, we probably spent more time out here at night than during the day. The best addition was our outdoor cinema which was really easy to set up. Pop on a movie for the kids and the adults could sit at the back chatting over a G & T. This space has it all
Our garden was certainly £300 well spent. We can now spend all the money we saved from the most outrageous quotes on a nice big hot tub for this summer!