Our complete garden makeover

We moved to our house about 4 and a half years ago, and back in 2017 I wrote a post about our plans to do a complete garden makeover. Well this summer those plans finally became reality and I want to share with you what we did and how the garden looks now.

We live in quite an unusual house – from the front it looks like a tiny bungalow but it is built into the side of a hill so at the back there are three storeys and the garden slopes steeply away to a stream that runs along the bottom. You can see a full tour of our house and garden in this video.

The garden before its makeover

Big trees in the garden

When we first moved in the back garden was nearly all grass with a patio at the top. It’s a bit hard to tell on this photo but there were two steep slopes with a couple of flattish bits in between. With two young children (Toby and Gabe were 3 and 1 when we moved here) it really wasn’t a practical space for them to play in.

One of the first things we did in the garden was have the enormous fir tree you can see on the right of this picture cut down by a tree surgeon. My dad and Barry then cut down the row of Leylandii that ran part way across the bottom of the garden, and the massive bush / tree thing on the left of the picture above.

After that we didn’t do any more with it for ages. Part of the problem we had was that in times of heavy rain (which we get quite a lot of in Lancashire) the stream at the bottom of the garden would fill up and flood quite a big section of the grass. We didn’t really know what we could do about this – we’d contemplated building decking on stilts above it but we weren’t really sure if it would work. But then our neighbour came to the rescue with a fantastic solution!

The initial ground works

The garden after the initial ground works

Our neighbour was having the same flooding problems at the bottom of his garden and wanted to do something about it. Happily he also owns a civil engineering company so had the skills, equipment and manpower to solve the problem himself. His issue was that the layout of his garden meant he couldn’t get the digger needed to the bottom of his garden.

So in exchange for using our garden for access he offered to sort our side out as well. He brought tonnes of enormous rocks down and built up the bank of the stream. The result was we actually gained about 4 metres more level, usable garden, which we knew we wanted to use for an area of artificial grass or astro turf. It’s now high enough not to flood, even when the water level rises, so it will make a great area for the boys to play on.

In the process of doing the work he also created another point of access from the top of our garden and the route of a path that would run from the top to the bottom.

Bringing in the landscapers

After the neighbour had finished his part of the groundworks we then brought in a landscape gardening company to do the rest of the work. There was just no way we could do the work on a garden makeover of this scale ourselves. It took them about 4 weeks to finish everything – it would have been a bit quicker except we had a few set backs due to really bad weather, and almost everything had to be done manually because of the limited access to the garden.

There are still some areas that need a bit more work that we will do ourselves, and we need to do a lot of planting still but we are thrilled with the results which you can see for yourselves in the pictures below.

Sloped garden with gravel steps

This is picture is taken from the same place as the previous ‘before’ shot. I am actually standing on a concrete plinth that has been put in so we can have a green house in the bottom corner of the garden.

We now have a lovely fence that runs right across the bottom of the garden. We are planning on using the two raised beds you can see for growing vegetables – in fact we’ve already planted some onions in one.

You can also see we now have steps which run all the way across the garden and come out in our front garden at the top. With the steps and all the retaining walls that are holding the beds where they should be the gardeners used something like 80-odd sleepers and it was one of the biggest expenses of the whole project. We probably could have done it more cheaply but it was a look I really wanted to go for.

We did keep some of the original grass on the right hand side of the picture above. For the moment this is where the boys’ trampoline is and it will just be left like that for now. Eventually though we plan on turning most of that side into beds for planting too.

Garden makeover with artificial grass

This picture is taken from the other corner of the garden. You can see we now have a large area of artificial grass below the big rockery which will eventually be filled with plants. I know artificial grass isn’t for everyone, and there is an environmental impact to consider but for us at the moment it really did seem like the best solution to give the boys somewhere they can really play. I’m going to fill the thin bed along the fence with wild flowers in the spring so hopefully we’ll still attract plenty of wildlife, and it will also be the perfect place for us to grow some sunflowers next year!

Indian Stone patio

Finally we had the old crazy paving patio removed and it was replaced with this extended Indian stone paving which I absolutely love! Next year we’re going to get some outdoor furniture to go on this area, and either a chimenea or fire pit too.

How much did our garden makeover cost?

The big question then… how much did our garden makeover cost?? The initial groundwork that our neighbour did cost us £3000 – this was only for the materials though as he didn’t charge us any labour costs.

The main landscaping job then cost just over £12,000. It is an awful lot of money to spend on a garden but we are planning on living in this house for a long time so getting a garden that we love and that we can enjoy for years to come really was worth it for us.

We just can’t wait for spring now so we can get more plants in and really get out in the garden as much as we can.

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