01 Jun 2020
Written by Amanda Cotton @Houselust
Taking on a home renovation is one thing but being ambitious enough to start a garden overhaul alongside it is another. Throw in a lockdown and a global pandemic and some might think I’ve completely lost my mind.
But the truth is, and if you know me then you’ll know this already, I’m pretty stubborn and even though our last house took years to get it how we wanted it, we didn’t have a two-year-old toddler in tow back then. Everything’s now ramped up to make our home as safe and secure as possible before we move in, because it won’t be long until we move in and have a little person wanting to use the outside space. Plus, with the emphasis on staying at home more, we want to be able to use our garden how we intend to from the offset.
I recently wrote a blog post about building work and all the extra costs which no one ever talks about and keeping money back for the garden was high on my list. It’s ironic really, as even though I know this, I haven’t taken my own advice and our garden budget is dwindling and I’m starting to spend the garden budget on tiles and taps, which for me are essential right now. Building work is tough as it is, extra costs can creep up and the garden is often neglected even though it’s never been so important now we’re in lockdown.
This is why I’m keen to crack on with it regardless, even if we do it in phases.
When we bought the house, the garden had been hugely neglected. This is no exaggeration; it was an actual jungle. Huge trees, brambles and no sign of a fence either side or at the back. We only ever walked through it once we had completed on the house which was probably pretty stupid as we didn’t even know how big the plot actually was. (You can view the jungle garden here on You Tube as my friend flew his Drone over it).
We had the trees chopped down straight away (luckily no TPO’s on our plot), mainly because they were dangerously big, too close to the house and one was split with a high risk of falling down. We then had the rest of the garden cut back and cleared.
It was great and it enabled us to start our building work once we got our planning permission. However, all the tree stumps remained and even worse, the tree roots were unseen underground, which left the garden pretty wonky and uneven.
But we have BIG plans...
Our plans involve laying a large 4m deep patio across the back of the house and a 4m deep decking area at the back of the garden (it’s north facing, so this way we can enjoy some sun all day long). As the garden isn’t even, we need the tree roots removed, and the garden levelled as much as possible.
We need to build a retaining wall next to the patio to compensate for the slope of the garden, add drainage near the house for the patio, add concrete bases for the patio and the shed/ studio, lay paving slabs and then lay a luscious lawn. Down the line we would eventually like to add a studio/shed as I mentioned, down the bottom of the garden which will need electricity -so we’re adding the pipe for this now to future proof ourselves.
As well as all that, we’d also like to replace a fence down the left side, plant new trees and plants and cut boarders in and have some rendered flower beds for more plants.
With all that in mind we have decided to do the garden in phases so we can manage our budget appropriately.
I always recommend getting at least three quotes per job so you can compare prices, and we did just that and decided to use a landscape gardener from Hoppy.co.uk to do the job.
Because we’re in a lockdown and in the middle of a global pandemic it did make getting quotes harder but because the garden is separate to the house build which is on-going, the landscaper and his team of labourers were able to work in isolation to the other builders.
So, this is phase 1… (Time to do- approx. 5 days)
Days 1 -3
The team of landscapers arrived, armed with diggers and dumpers ready to tackle the mother of all tree stumps at the back of the garden.
This was something they underestimated in terms of size, as it was a real beast of a stump and it ended up taking almost three days to grind down, dig around and then fully remove.
They removed many other tree stumps too, one which was even under our fence, and one quite close to the house, but these came out relatively easier in comparison using the digger, and they also cleared all the old debris – broken glass and timber which had been left by the previous owner.
They dug the hole for our soakaway drain which was needed for our rainwater to be connected up for our house.
Then they laid a pipe for electricity from the house to the back of the garden– future proofing us if we want electricity at the other end of the garden for a studio later down the line.
They levelled the garden into two levels, one near the house, ready for a concrete base to go in on phase two, and eventually to have patio slabs laid and the second level for the lawn and decking area. This involved levelling an old mound at the back of the garden.
They also removed all the tree stumps, excess soil and debris which was in the garden.
Thank you Hoppy.co.uk lads for working so hard.
We are delighted with the work and now it’s just got us itching to start phase two of the garden where we can start making it look pretty with concrete bases, slabs and retaining walls. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am not Beyoncé, so for now this will have to wait.
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All opinions and views are 100% Amanda's own.