Our Garden Makeover

Thursday 25 June 2020

During lockdown, like many people, my husband Stu and I started a big house project, and we've totally over hauled our whole back garden. We are very lucky to have a large back garden (thank you Grimsby house prices), but we aren't the most green fingered of people. Bar my love of succulents, we wanted something that was easier on the upkeep than what we had because it required a lot of weeding and attention that neither of us really wanted to spend our weekends doing.

We've both still been working full time (also very lucky!), but had some time off booked together and worked really hard to get it sorted. Stu in particular worked ridiculously hard, turning his hand to woodwork and he has really taken to it! He took out over 16 old conifer tree stumps we'd had taken down last summer (they were in the middle of our garden in a line for some bizarre reason!), and cut down several huge trees that were blocking light from our garden and were planted in really impractical places.

We were given a free shed that needed the floor replacing, roof repairing, roof trim replacing and more. Stu got to work, I got to painting, and this is the after! Stu also made us the amazing bench with a planter either side. This whole area was full of bushes before, and a rotten cooking apple tree, so we levelled it, and lined it, and moved the gravel you see from another part of the garden to here to make it a nicer area. The bench planters have a couple of succulents in each that should hopefully soon spread to fill them out nicely.

While the shed project was going on we were also dealing with the actual garden itself. We don't have any particularly good before photos because we didn't quite anticipate how much we were going to drastically change it, and a lot of the photos I can find are low resolution phone photos, but this photo of our sweet late Ashen playing in the garden with Stu gives you a pretty good idea of how it used to look.


This is the back of the garden, the left photo shows where the shed now sits, and the right photo gives you an idea of the conifer line before we had it cut down last year, and the hugely overgrown border full of trees.


Very overgrown boarders that were really wonky, a weird half white fence at the back wall, a line of conifers in the middle of the garden that meant a whole section of it was accessible for some unknown reason, as well as a bunch of large conifers in the back corner. Sadly the biggest conifer belongs to our neighbour, not us, so we can't do a whole lot about that one bar cut back what comes across into our garden. We also plan to sort out that wibbly wobbly half fallen down fence ASAP too, it's not ours so we're just going to put a new one on our side.

And the after! Conifers gone, lawn edged so it's not wonky, borders relined and regravelled, and a corner section fenced off for Stu's wood store for his wood work! The garden is so much bigger without the weird line of conifers that blocked off the back of the garden. We plant to totally cover the gravelled area in a variety of mismatching pots and planters full of succulents grown from our wedding flowers, and my G and Grandma's funeral flowers. I just need more pots! We had 2 tonnes of gravel delivered, and need another tonne really just to fill out the border properly. Stu made the edging from old decking board that I painted.


My Mum and Dad propograted these aloe vera for us from ones they have in their garden, and I've been repotting some of my extensive collection of succulents that live indoors (after researching which ones can surive outdoors in the UK!). We have a lot of plans for more plants as it does look a little sparce in the large borders at the moment, but we aim to use pots and planters to make the borders more manageable. Weeding is the worst! We've left one ground conifer in, a castor oil plant, and a pieris, the latter two were somewhat hidden by the old giant conifers so we're hoping they will thrive now they have lots more room and light.

The area behind the conifers was a barren wasteland of weeds and mess. It meant we needed to figure out the best way to turn it all into actual garden and grass, so we decided to attempt to transplant some of the old wonky border we had removed into the newly dug over area. And it worked! We then kept an eye out on Facebook for anyone giving away free turf (which happened a surprising amount locally), or selling it really cheap, and we were able to source a whole bunch more turf, enough to fill the huge void that had been left and some.

We ended up with a very patchwork looking lawn at the back once we had laid all the turf, and some of it looked like it might not recover because it was so dry and hot when we did it.

Thankfully with some grass seed thrown on top with a bit of extra soil in the 'seams', and some very heavy rain, it is knitting together nicely and so much new growth has come through.

You can see how mismatched it was in these photos, like a quilt! You can barely tell now, and with the weather we've had it suddenly shot up with growth and Stu was finally able to cut the grass. It's now all a lush green thanks to the rain! It's unreal how much bigger the garden is without the weird conifer row and the extra grass. We've no idea why on earth anyone would put a row of such big trees in the middle of their garden!

It's been a huge project, and it's not quite finished yet, but getting hold of some of the bits we need to finish it off has been tricky due to the pandemic. For example, when we needed to paint the shed nowhere was doing click and collect on outdoor paint as it's a non essential item, and paint is considered hazardous so it's tricker to mail it out. We happened to mention it in the family group chat and next thing we knew my Uncle Tony had dropped off a whole tin of paint, some brand new paint brushes and some safety gloves for us to work in the garden! Thanks Uncle Tony!

I just have to give a HUGE shout out to my awesome husband Stu. He worked his butt off to get the garden ready for when the gravel was delivered, singlehandedly digging out so many tree stumps, cutting down trees, heavy lifting etc. He has been amazing and worked so hard, coming home from work after getting up at 4am and immediately going out in the garden to get on with the next job. I am so lucky to have him, he kept us on track and honestly did the vast majority of the work the garden needed while I did things like weeding and painting, he did all the hard manual labour.

We can't wait to be able to safely have our loved ones round for BBQs to enjoy it properly! If you have a favourite place for cheap but good quality plant pots from (ceramic and concrete is the preference) let me know where you got them from.

Much love,


  1. Planters to be made by "Chippy Stu" in the very near future. Potting Benches, kids (and adults) picnic benches, and cat kennels apparently, made to order. Shameless plugs are my thing now. Shameless plugs are cool