Create your perfect garden

Written by

Luke Hilton

Luke Hilton is a Warrington-based email content writer and designer in the financial services industry. He enjoys mixing analytics and creativity and can usually be found with his head buried in stats, piecing together the patterns that make good content. In his spare time, the drive to figure things out continues with what can only be described as a love-hate relationship with DIY. With a keen love of the outdoors, Luke is usually up a mountain somewhere or in his garden growing his own oasis.

Tuesday 20th February 2024

Ready to give your garden some love just in time for the summer?

Whether you’re going for a full redesign or just giving your garden some TLC, spending time improving your outdoor space can be an exciting project to undertake.

In this guide, we’ve put together some simple steps to help you create a garden the whole family will love.

Planning your garden project

Before you start buying plants, ordering garden furniture or booking in a landscaper it’s important to have a proper plan in place. What will your garden look like when the project’s all done and dusted?

Search for inspiration

Before you start digging up your lawn or dismantling your old shed, spend some time researching what elements you like the look of.

Visit some garden centres, public gardens, or maybe even friends' homes to get a feel of what options are available.

Once you know what you want, start to get your ideas down in the form of sketches, mood boards or even just a collection of photos from the internet.

Get to know your garden

You might be desperate for a brand new hot tub, but it simply won’t be possible if you have a sloping garden with no space for a patio or decking.

Dream big but know the limitations of your space. Think about what you currently use your space for and what you want to be able to do next. Do you need a children’s play area, a place to sit out in the sun or a herb garden to take your cooking to the next level? Once you know what you want to achieve you’ll be in a better position to create a plan of action.

Choose your garden theme

Once you’ve got all your ideas down, you’ll be able to identify common themes such as styles or functions. Try to pick just one overarching ‘theme’ – this will help make your garden feel more cohesive rather than lots of different concepts put together in the same space.

It’s easy to have your head turned by the latest garden design trends, but always go with what makes you happy rather than what’s currently ‘in’. It's important that you love the space you're designing and remember, you can always change it in the future - so have fun with it.

Make the most of what you already have

Where you live can make a big difference to what will and won’t work when improving your garden. So do your research in advance to give yourself the best chance of designing an outdoor space that will prosper.

Get the foundations right

The gardens that thrive the most are those that work with their natural environment. Did you know that exposure to wind or salty breezes, for example, could affect how your choice of foliage will grow? Research what works best in your area to make sure you’re creating a flourishing garden.

The quality of your soil also contributes to a healthy, beautiful garden, so it might be worth testing your soil to find out its pH. This will stop you being disappointed if your chosen flowers don’t flourish.

Figure out which way your garden faces

The way your garden faces will help you decide where things should go. After all, there’s no point in having a decked area for sitting out in the sunshine in the shadiest part of your garden!

To find out the sunniest areas of your garden, wait for a good day and track the sun from the morning to the evening so you can see where the shadows will fall.

Be aware of 'micro-climates'

These are the areas of your garden that get different levels of light, warmth, and moisture. All gardens have these. Understand where they are to help you plan where to plant your flowers.

Start planning your garden project

Now for the exciting part – getting started! You’ll have a vision in mind and know exactly what you need to create the outdoor space of your dreams. It’s just a matter of digging in (literally!)

Draw up a plan of your garden

The easiest way to draw out a plan is to use tracing paper over your original property plans. Start by marking out the sections where you’d like your different functions to be such as a patio area, water feature or flowerbeds. Think about the different layouts you'd like for your path and how to route it around the garden too.

If you're finding that you're struggling to come up with a concept you like, you can always get some professional help from a garden designer or landscaper.

DIY or call in the pros?

Speaking of professionals… now’s the time to think about whether you’ll DIY your garden improvements or get a quote from a contractor.

Keep in mind that even if you’re planning on doing most of the improvements yourself, some jobs will need to be done by the pros. Jobs such as installing or moving gas, electricity, or water pipes should only ever be done by a qualified professional.

Create a project plan

Depending on the amount of work you’re doing, you may want to break the project down into manageable chunks which can be spread out over a few months.

Prioritise what needs to be done to keep your garden useable over the jobs that are ‘nice to have’.

Don’t be tempted to skip essential but tedious jobs in a bid to get the job done quicker. For example, correct soil preparation is key for new beds or you’ll be disappointed when your flowers or veggies fail to grow properly.

Start small to make a big difference

You don’t always need a full garden renovation to give your outdoor space a fresh look. Instead of breaking the bank on brand new garden furniture and expensive improvements, here are just some simple changes you can make to transform your garden.

Create your own garden furnishings

From upcycling wooden pallets to make a fabulous garden sofa to building your own fire pit, there are loads of ways you can add that finishing touch without breaking the bank.

Don’t forget those little touches, either. For example, adding birder feeder or updating an old one is a great little project. If you have little ones, why not let them get creative and decorate their very own bird feeder to welcome wildlife into your outdoor space?

Give your fence a new lease of life

Save yourself buying a brand-new fence by giving it a good clean and a fresh lick of paint instead. You’ll be surprised what a huge difference it can make!

Top tip: As most boundary fences are shared, make sure you check your deeds and speak to your neighbour first before painting.

Declutter your space

Rogue plant pots and piles of gardening tools is never a good look. Adding a shed or storage box can make a big difference – and it’ll give you somewhere to store all your equipment while you’re renovating the rest of your garden too.

The most common garden renovation projects

Sometimes, garden tweakments just aren’t enough to make a meaningful difference. If you’re ready to make a large-scale change to your outdoor space, here are just some of the common improvements homeowners make to their garden...

Garden design

This is where your vision comes to life. Garden design goes beyond simply cutting your lawn – it’s about creating a garden layout that works for you and your lifestyle.

For a complete garden redesign, expect to pay tens of thousands of pounds as this will include the design itself as well as its implementation.

Installing a new lawn

Whether you’re preparing soil and laying turf, planting seeds or installing artificial turf, a new lawn can make a big difference to your garden.

The cost of installing a new lawn will depend on the size of your garden and the type of turf you’re going for. Checkatrade estimates budget garden turf will cost around £2 or £3 per m2, whereas artificial grass could cost up to £60 per m2.

Installing decking

If you’re an experienced DIY-er, you may feel confident enough to build your own decking area to save you labour costs. However, bringing in a professional could save you time and give you peace of mind if you’re not 100% confident about doing the job yourself.

Expect to pay a few thousand pounds for non-elevated decking, though if you want an elevated hardwood deck you could be looking at upwards of £10,000.

Path installation

Whether you choose to lay a garden path yourself or call in the professionals for a more complex installation, a garden walkway can bring a neat, organised look to any outdoor space.

Soft landscaping

Create functional, vibrant outdoor ‘zones’ through impressive landscape design. Planting shrubs, trees and flowers can transform a simple space into your favourite place to relax and be at one with nature.

While you can of course ask a professional gardener or landscaper to help you select and plant flowers or shrubbery, you may find it enjoyable to do yourself. Take a family trip to the local garden centre and choose an array of colourful or interesting plants to make your garden aesthetic pop.

Building a new summerhouse or garden room

Garden rooms are rising in popularity as more and more people work from home regularly. The price of a garden room can vary dramatically depending on size and additional requirements, but as a rough guide you should be prepared to spend upwards of £15,000.

You may also choose to extend your home with a conservatory, which can be a great way to bring a touch of nature to your home without taking up any valuable garden space.

Manage your budget

Before thoroughly throwing yourself into any garden renovation, you should make sure you’ve thought about how much the improvements will cost – and how you’re going to pay for it.

How will you fund your dream garden?

Experts suggest a garden renovation could cost up to £10,000 so it’s important to know how you’re going to fund your project before getting started. You could…

  • Use your savings
  • Use a credit card
  • Take out a personal loan
  • Get a secured loan
  • Add to your existing mortgage
  • Remortgage your home
  • Release equity

Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and we’ve gone into more detail on this on our blog all about how to fund home improvements.

Make a budget, and stick to it

As with most projects, it’s important to have a clear budget in mind before getting stuck in. Consider how much you want to spend in total, before allocating costs to each part of your project. You’ll soon see where you might need to re-evaluate your plans or make some tweaks to ensure your garden renovation doesn’t cost more than you planned for.

If you’re planning on hiring a contractor, aim to get at least three quotes to help you compare costs and find a professional that can work within your budget.

Tell us about your next home improvement project

We’d love to hear about how you’re renovating or redesigning your garden. Get in touch with us on Facebook or contact us to tell us how a loan helped you create the garden of your dreams.

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