Summer garden makeover – Top money saving tips

It’s that time of year where most of us will be looking forward to spending some relaxing time in the garden with friends and family.  Enjoying BBQ’s, drinks, family games and just relaxing to soak up some summer sun is at the top of my list but to do this we will likely want a nice clutter free environment.

We recently invested in our space to revamp, renew and simplify our back garden for just these reasons.  So in this post I’m going to talk briefly how we did this and how we saved money to maximise the makeover.

Build your own veranda with decking area

This was first on the makeover list.  I already installed a veranda a few years back but we never really made the most of this covered area and the patio just totally spoilt it.  With this in mind we decided to pull up the old (hideous) patio and install some decking underneath the veranda.  You can read all about this on another post where I have written a step by step guide on how to build both a veranda and decking area:

To finish both these builds we wanted to paint them.  We spent many hours looking through Pinterest and garden design websites for inspiration but finally decided on a grey.  It was important to select the correct paint for both the decking and veranda.  The Paint Shed has a great range of products and guides to help you select the right paint for the job.  Eventually we went with a decking paint from Cuprinol in an Urban Slate colour and for the veranda we chose Silver Copse colour, also by Cuprinol.

Here is the before and after on the veranda.  What a transformation for under £1100!

how to build your own decking - starthow to build your own decking - complete

On to the next project…

How to lay your own porcelain patio

As you can see from the pictures above, we managed to completely transform the back of our house to give us a nice sheltered sitting area come rain or shine.  But the patio was awful and in need of a makeover.  I’d laid patios before but nothing quite this big and we wanted a porcelain tile this time, which isn’t quite the same method as laying normal paving slabs.

After hours of research and cost comparisons I decided to take on this tasks as a DIY porcelain patio.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but all the hard work would be worth it if all went to plan.  In total we spent about £1500 on materials to cover this 7m x 6m area and about 5 days to complete the work.  I had to take my time on this as it was my first time and had a little help from my wife Victoria but it was all worth it and the results were amazing.  We probably saved ourselves about £1500 – £2000 in labour costs.

Here is the before and after on our DIY porcelain patio

how to build your own verandahow to build a veranda

Not bad for a novice 🙂

How to build your own sun trap decking area

Project number 3 was to make use of a tired patch of grass where we’d been dumping rubbish for some time.  I levelled the area, dug in 3 posts and erected this raised decking area.  During the build I decided it would also make a great covered area to protect from the midday sun and also a place to sit in the rain.  All in I think this cost about £250.

I ran out of decking boards just before finishing and decided to use some old reclaimed oak boards to build a planter, rather than go back tot he shops for two more boards.  This actually turned out great and made the decking area even more beautiful with some live plants and cobbled stones in the outdoor planter.  Again you can read how I achieved this on this post: How to build your own decking area

Here’s a look at the before and after.

how to build your own decking - planningnew decking area

Installing your own pond

This was quite a simple straight forward project.  It just required a little manual labour to dig out the hole.  We started by mapping out the pond area with a piece of string and then dug about 60cm down in the centre of the hole.  We purchased a pond lining material and reused a load of stones we have around the garden.  Plants were added slowly and before we knew it, the pond was teeming with live.  We even have newts now after just 2 months of the pond being in.

newt in pond
Can you spot the newt?

The plants we put in the pond are Duckweed, Soldier plants and Star wart, Frog bit and Greater Duckweed.  They help clear the algae from the water and provide a natural haven for lots of wildlife.

Here’s the before and after

pond beforepond after

We love this small addition to the garden.  It attracts so much wildlife which is great for the environment and it’s a lovely, low maintenance spectacle for the garden.

Boardwalk decking path

This was one of the last jobs to be completed in the garden.  Yes, it was very time consuming to install but it adds a real dynamic to the whole garden and ties everything together perfectly.  Made from 70% reclaimed wood it’s environmentally friendly and provides a safe, clean path from one end of the garden to the other.  No more muddy shoes when popping to the shed for something!

If you’re thinking of something similar for your garden then this is a great DIY project that most competent DIYers can take on.  All you need is a little patience and a good supply of reclaimed wood.

Here’s a few images of the process.

And here is the before and after.

garden makeover before and afterIMG_7986

This covers off the major changes around the garden but to really finish things off we also replaced the majority of the fence panels and painted them black, added some reclaimed wood borders, made some planters and repaired the lawn.

All this work has made a massive difference to our outdoor space and provides a number of different locations to sit and enjoy the nice weather. We completed most of this work between March and the end of April so had some great spring weather whilst working outdoors.  It was a real joy to have completed this ourselves and we’re delighted with the results.

If like us you want to give your own garden a much needed makeover then try some of these money saving tips and have a go at completing these jobs yourself.

Top Tips:

  • When buying online try using cash back sites like Topcashback for all your purchases.  We’ve saved about £600 in the last couple of years on all our everyday purchases and lots of the garden makeover materials.
  • Buy in bulk.  Try and ensure you have calculated all the materials you need accurately and try order in bulk from one supplier.  This will bring your deliver costs down significantly.
  • Plan your time carefully.  If your working full time then you will need time off work to complete these jobs.  So plan when and where your materials and coming and keep in contact with suppliers to ensure they meet their delivery deadlines.
  • Use reclaimed materials where possible.  You can find local reclamation yards near you and significantly reduce your materials costs.
  • Don’t let your spouse get carried away with pretty furniture and ornaments.  Set a budget for these kind of things and stick to it.  Again, try and buy used or reclaimed items rather than buying new.
  • Challenge yourself with some new skills and learn as you go along.  Hiring the professionals is a sensible approach when you have no idea, but if you’re like me then you can challenge yourself and learn some new skills along the way.  I can’t imagine how much we’ve saved on this garden makeover by doing it ourselves.  We could have easily doubled our budget.
  • If you need tools then look to buy bundled tools and aim for a decent brand.  This is a much cheaper way of getting the tools you need and if you don’t need them after the jobs done then you can near get your money back for branded power tools.  I personally buy Dewalt or Makita as they are well made, precise and last for years.
  • Ask friends and family to help.  Labour is the tough bit so any free help you can get is worth a lot.  Try enticing friends over to help in exchange for a couple of beers and/or a BBQ.
  • Barter with suppliers.  Whilst this isn’t always so easy, if your buying a high volume of materials try and get a couple of freebies or free delivery with your order.  These always a friendly or humorous way to approach this and you never know, you might get what you ask for.

So thats it for now.  I’m sure there’s plenty more I could talk about but i’m going to save that for another time.  I hope you enjoyed reading this post and like the work we’ve completed so feel free to leave a comment or get in touch to discuss any project in more detail.

Take a look at some more of my DIY projects in and around the house:

garden makeover - money saving

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