It’s been ten years since I had my own back yard, but you could barely call it that. It was at the rear of a tiny two bedroom house in East London and was so overgrown that it’d become home to a family of foxes that took objection every time I wanted to sit outside; I made a couple of feeble attempts to clear it up, but I wasn’t a keen gardener and I didn’t really have a clue how to give it a decent makeover.
The next decade was spent living in various flats that offered a variety of outside options: a couple included a small balcony with which to perch with a book, a couple included a communal garden that was great until the rest of the building wanted to join you, and one included a decent size balcony sufficient for BBQs and social gatherings – but had a view of a car park and backed on to the rubbish bins that overflowed from the high street.
It’s safe to say that when we bought our own house that I was incredibly excited about the prospect of having my own garden, and even more excited about turning it into a little haven to enjoy all summer long. We don’t have the biggest garden by any stretch (we have possibly one of the biggest front gardens in the entire village to make up for it though,) so we knew we were going to have to make the space work as hard as possible.
I spent a lot of time browsing Pinterest for inspiration and small space ideas for our back garden makeover, and creating a raise decking seemed to be the best solution for our needs. The far right corner of are garden gets no sunlight whatsoever, so the grass quickly became a muddy dead mess and it was just utterly wasted space; creating a deck to go over this area enabled us to open up the unused area without eating into too much of the rest of the garden or visually overpowering the small area we had to play with. A deck also enabled us to level out the top of the slope so we had the perfect space to fill with garden furniture and create an ‘inside outside’ area we could relax in.
My very clever and talented husband did all of the work himself (measuring, digging and leveling out the corner, laying stones, sand and cement to create a sturdy layer for the deck to sit on, as well as building the deck frame and top panels,) which cost us a fraction of the price of hiring someone and kept him busy during those first few weeks of lockdown. Without losing any of the visible or useable space we’d instantly gained somewhere we could relax – and somewhere you bet your fairy lights I was going to decorate using all that Pinterest inspo I’d collated!
Starting with a grey LaRedoute outdoor rug I’d had my eye on for ages, I wanted to create a muted and calm space with just little pops of colour. Although I really love the monochrome zigzag prints and rustic styles that seem to be incredibly Insta-popular right now, I didn’t want to invest in something that looked outdated within a couple of years or felt too busy in a relatively small space. Grey felt like a good compromise, so I set about finding some new garden furniture that floated my boat. Spoiler: during a global pandemic and a late spring heatwave that wasn’t an easy task.
Everything I loved was out of stock, everything that was advertised as ‘new in’ was temporarily unavailable, and everything that was in stock wasn’t eligable for either collection or delivery in my area. I spent weeks (possibly months) looking at every site I could imagine and keeping links just in case they became available to order when I checked back every few days; eventually I found an affordable set in Argos of all places, which really ticked my boxes and could be delivered within a week. Win!
Initially I wanted a corner sofa so I could put my feet up, but quickly I became concerned that having guests over would mean we’d all have to squeeze together and wasn’t the most practical. The grey garden set I eventually chose came with a sofa, two chairs and a coffee table which allows us to move each piece about – and is just the ticket for social distancing too! With waterproof cushions, a spacious seat area and a comfortable design, this is also light enough to be picked up and moved about with ease; honestly, I’m so glad I waited to find a garden set that I really loved instead of compromising just because we needed somewhere to sit.
As for the details: I added in a couple of yellow and grey cushions, as well as a yellow blanket, for comfort and style. We made some planters from the leftover decking board (super simple to do) and I painted them a dark grey shade to match my Grandpy’s loveseat that I up-cycled just after we moved in (he passed away the week before we picked up our keys so it’s a great way to have him be part of the house he never got to see.) With some little pots of flowers, an apple tree and our old chimnea the back garden makeover was complete.
Originally the plan was to build a pergola, but once everything was in place it felt like it could be too much and actually make the area seem smaller; we skipped that idea and instead decided to paint the fences this beautiful muted sage green colour, bringing a touch of elegance and modernity (while covering up that hideous ‘brand new orange’ colour that comes with fresh fences!) With a few little added extras, including a herb garden made out of an old palette Josh got out of the skip at work, our garden really is a haven – and one I’ve been so grateful for over the last couple of months.
I’ve discovered a new found love for gardening, bringing bargain plants back to life and filling our space with colour. Our front garden is all about the aesthetics and a bit of an ‘intentionally overgrown’ rustic look, but our back garden is definitely all about a little relaxing escape that I can’t wait to share with more friends and family when the time is right.
What do you think of my back garden makeover?
WHERE EVERYTHING IS FROM
Decking | Local timber merchant | Approx £300-400 for all materials
Rug | LaRedoute | £60.00 | LINK
Garden Set | Argos | £550.00 | LINK
Yellow & Grey Cushions | The Range | £8.99 each | SIMILAR HERE
Yellow Blanket | The Range | £14.99 | SIMILAR HERE
Fairy Lights | The Range | £15.00 | LINK
Silver Lanterns | The Range | From £7.99 each | LINK
Chimnea | Local Garden Centre | £60.00 | SIMILAR HERE
B&Q Multi-Surface Garden Colours in Kinsale Matte | B&Q | £15.00 for each tin (we used 3) | SIMILAR HERE