Category Archives: Mini Makeovers

Mini-Makeovers :- Garden Ideas for Tiny Back Yards

Garden Ideas: Tiny Back Yards or Courtyards


When space is tight, it can be tricky to make a garden or even to try to have anything that resembles a garden, sadly all too often, the courtyard consists of a couple of bins, the odd bicycle and maybe a threadbare patch of less than immaculate lawn!


But it doesn’t have to be this way….so how do you do it!


Firstly, have a plan….now this may sound blindingly obvious, but the temptation to wander into the nearest garden centre to find some plants you like and then try and fit them into the space you have usually leads to disappointment.


In the image, we have gone big & bold with pots. This garden is dominated by a rather unattractive concrete path, so to tone down the concrete colour scheme, we have dug up the tiny lawn and replaced it with grey shingle. Then the fence panels have been painted a soft mossy green colour (which is unassuming and easy on the eye). All this creates a muted background for you to go a bit wild with the planting.

The key point with the planting is to make it really bold and colourful so that you don’t notice the grey path as much and the plants are quite tall which create more impact. The purples, oranges and greens (see our MiniPlots ranges) now hold your visual attention.

We have also hidden the bins behind a small trellis and have of course added a hedgehog hole to help our furry friends forage from garden to garden.


The second image paints a totally different picture. If pots are not your thing, as plants in pots do require more looking after, we thought we’d do a plan using one of our Fab Fronts designs (as they can be used in the back too!).

The most obvious new feature is a lawn, however, grass in small spaces gets an awful lot of traffic and can quickly resemble a mud patch, so we have artificial grass. The garden purists amongst you may feel this is not gardening, but the aim here is to create an usable and attractive outside space for as much of the year as possible.


The fence panels have also been painted black which is a great colour to use as a backdrop in the garden. Foliage colours stand out brilliantly against the dark background.


Space for planting is obviously limited, in this case the only real area is alongside the path. The temptation can be to plant low growing plants so they don’t take up too much room, but this is a mistake. If you plant low down, all you will see looking out of the window is a fence, there will be nothing that grabs your eyeballs and says ‘look at me’!


In addition a couple of pots have been added opposite the back door with drought tolerant plants (in case you forget to water as often as you should) and because the fence is now the same colour as the bin you don’t notice your bins now either.

£1.49 we make easier


Garden Ideas: Gardening on a tight budget!

Garden Ideas: Making a Garden on a tight Budget.


OK, so you’ve just got your brand new house and with it comes a brand new garden….how exciting. But the view’s a bit naff and you’ve not a lot of money available to fix it.




What can you do to create a garden with hardly any money to spend?


Blank canvas’ can be a boon to some people but can also be quite intimidating especially if it’s your first garden and the budget is limited. Take this drawing (of someone’s actual garden), it’s all fence and boundaries.




If money is tight, your best option is to focus your efforts in one area. So, imagine you are sitting inside and this is the view down the garden, the perspective of the side fencing automatically draws your eye to the end fence – this is where you need to start, as it is the first area of the garden that captures your attention.

The next part is to create something eye catching to focus your attention away from the grass and fencing, but it has to be relatively cheap.

Plants that you can divide and plants that grow quite quickly are a good bet to get started, as are plants that grow readily from seed.




Here we have used plants from the ‘Towers of Feathers‘ design. If you buy a bigger plant from the garden centre, you can split them into 2 or 3 plants, and each of these will grow quite quickly. These plants will also thrive on thin soils so if the builders have turfed over a whole load of building debris, these plants should grow well and you haven’t had a back breaking dig!


The borders on each side mirror each other but most importantly they are taller than the fence. The gap in the centre can then be used for a focal point, here we have added an outdoor canvas. What’s the first thing you see now….the back fence?


Lastly, horizontal trellis had been added to the fencing, we used lengths of baton painted black.


The visual effect now is to lengthen the garden and draw your eye to the bit you want to show off.


And don’t forget your hedgehog hole..!


£3.99 3 for 2 offer

Garden Makeovers – part 4

Garden Makeovers – it’s easier than you think!



We thought we would do a few mini-makeovers with our border designs, so you can see how you can adapt them to any space.


Thousands of new homes are built each year in the UK and so are thousands of new gardens, but if you are faced with a blank canvas it can be quite tricky to get started, especially if you are fairly new to gardening!


Like many new gardens, you usually have a lawn and a patio and quite a lot of fence to look at, so where do you start!


In this image, the garden has only one shrub, there are some trees behind the fence which create some privacy and give you something to look at, but the rest is pretty bare.



This is quite a sunny garden so we have decided to use our Bee Bistro design to plant the borders. All the plants will thrive in these conditions, in addition many of the plants will thrive on poorish soil too, which is sadly all too common in many new build gardens.


Many of these plants can be bought as seed and will establish pretty quickly, so if your budgets don’t run to a Chelsea Show Garden style of planting, you can still have a pretty garden without having to break the bank!

corner plot bee bistro


Over time some taller plants can be added that will can be strategically planted to shield your garden from overlooking windows, but that won’t create too much shade. But whilst those plants establish themselves, you can have filled your garden with beautiful flowers that bees and butterflies will love too.


Garden makeovers shouldn’t be too daunting, with a little thought and a bit of effort, you can easily transform any space and get the garden you really wanted.


And don’t forget to make a little hedgehog hole too!


Garden Makeovers – part 3

Garden Makeovers – it’s easier than you think!


We thought we would do a few mini-makeovers with our border designs, so you can see how you can adapt them to any space.


This weeks garden is on a down slope. It’s fairly small with raised beds and a shed.

There is a raised patio that looks down onto the garden, a lawn and a rectangular shingle bed by the fence. There are only a few small plants in the raised border, as a consequence the garden appears rather barren and all you really notice is the shed.




Down slopes are lovely in the sense you can get a different perspective on the garden, but the view of your garden has to also compete with the view all around as well.

If the view outside the garden is gorgeous, then lucky you, however, if what you see outside the garden is not particularly inspiring, then you need planting that will capture your attention and hold it inside the fences.

On the plus side, this garden is sunny and because it’s on a slope, drainage is good. However there is a large rectangular shingle bed by the fence which isn’t adding to the visual layout of the garden. This, along with the original lawn shape needs a bit of a dig!




The first task, is to remodel the lawn. Offsetting the oval lawn and taking it right up to the fence line widens the garden and the curve of the lawn now mirrors the curve of the patio you are sitting on, which makes it look a whole lot better.


rich velvets loud pinks


As the view is not terrible beautiful outside the garden, we have gone bold and loud with the planting, using our Rich Velvets & Loud Pinks design.

The fence panels have been left unpainted and so have taken on a silvery grey colour, which we all know goes really well with pink, the patio is also a grey stone so again the planting will compliment what you already have.

All you need to do is add a few pots on the patio and ‘voila’ a garden worth looking at.

And don’t forget to have a hedgehog hole!

Garden Makeovers – part 2

Garden Makeovers – it’s easier than you think!


We thought we would do a few mini-makeovers with our border designs, so you can see how you can adapt them to any space.


This week’s little makeover is for a really sunny garden however, the house is a new build and although the house developers have created some ‘features’ by adding a path, patio, lawns and a large purple stoned area, there’s not much else.

In addition, the worst possible fence colour has been used… ‘fence red’, all this does is make a dominant feature of something that really is rather unattractive.




Once again, this is actually a drawing of someone’s garden, so what do we have…well lots of red, green, purple, yellowish coloured patio slabs and not a lot else!


In addition, the lawn has been split by the path, neither lawn is now  big enough to do anything on and both have ended up a rather amorphous blob shape.


But it is what you have been left with, and you can’t spend loads of money redoing the hard landscaping, so how would you makeover this garden?

fountains and fluff amoeba lawn


OK, the first part involves painting, we’ve used a soft sage green colour to paint the fence, this tones the fence down and reduces its visual impact.


We can’t really do anything about the blob shaped lawn, but the lawn by the fence is really redundant, so we’ve planted it with our Fountains & Fluff plants. The tall grasses hide the fence lines and the height of the fluffy bits lifts your eyeline, so you notice the red edging a little less.


All the plants are fairly easy to grow and will thrive on poorish soils (and can be grown from seed), so you won’t need to dig down through all that hidden builders rubble when you  plant!


We’ve also used the same plants all round the area, now you may think that will be a little boring, but you’ve got a lot going on with paths, the purple stones and the patio, it’s the same principle as patterned carpet; plain walls, plain carpet; patterned walls.


Now it feels like you have a route past your main garden border. The patio at this end has similar planting in pots on the stones and the whole area feels a lot more like a garden!

And don’t forget to make  hedgehog hole too!

Next Week – part 3, as if you can wait!

Garden Makeovers – part 1

Garden Makeovers – it’s easier than you think!



Following on from the posts on how to lower the unwanted maintenance in your garden, we thought we would do a few mini-makeovers with our border designs, so you can see how you can adapt them to any space.


The idea is that with inexpensive changes and a little imagination, you can convert any small space into a gorgeous garden.


All the drawings are taken from images of actual gardens.


The garden below is typical of many terraces, a narrow and rectangular space, but what are the first things that leap out at you?




Probably the fence colour and the path to nowhere. Red is a colour that is unfathomably popular to paint fence panels. It is a colour that clashes and rather overpowers any plants you put in the garden.  Red does have a place in the garden, but not all over the fence panels and shed!

Clearly the owner of this garden is no gardener, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nicer place to sit outside.

As we are trying to makeover the garden on a smaller budget, there are only a few plants we’ll add, some fence colour and a trellis all the rest is manual labour!


The fences have been painted grey, as has the shed, straight away the areas does not feel quite so enclosed. At the end of the garden a trellis has been placed, this creates a small screened off area for the bins and other garden stuff you’d rather not look at. The main ‘exertion’ has been in re-modelling the lawn.

Offsetting the angle of the lawn allows the garden to appear slightly wider than it really is. Now the areas of earth this then throws up are where you can plant, but if budgets are tight, then only plant the main border near the house. The rest you could add some shingle or bark which will help keep weeds at bay until you can plant there.

grey fence fab fronts for shade

We have used plants from the Fab Fronts for Shade range, this keeps a colour scheme that’s sympathetic to the garden fences. The whole area seems a little more calming and the path now appears to have more of a purpose as it heads down to the trellis.

Lastly, a little trick to help widen your garden is to mow the lawn at an angle too, that’s if you can convince the ‘keeper of the mower’ to be a little more artistic when they mow!

So garden makeovers are easier than you think, all they need is a little imagination, a bit of digging and fewer plants than you think!

And don’t forget to have a hedgehog hole too!


Next Week – Part 2 (but you probably had already worked that out!)

cool gardeners


Billy No Mates – The Pot!

billy the pot

OK perhaps I am being a little harsh, but it does look rather lonely. The drive is totally paved, which really only leaves the option of pots, but only one pot does look out of scale. So I think it would improve the whole frontage of the house to have a much larger planter. 


Now the trouble with lots of plants in one pot together is lack of sufficient water for all to thrive, so these plants from the Loud Pinks and Rich Velvets PlantPlot, can cope with less water than others, but you would still need to water this planter really well every couple of days.  


I know they look a little bright in the picture, but the images of the plants were taken on a sunny day and ‘adjusting the light saturation levels etc’ in Photoshop is way beyond my skills!




Anyway, the plants used are strong, warm colours, to compliment the brick walls.


The planter used is also black, two things though, firstly I would repaint the black strip at the base of the house, to help the planter ‘blend in’ and secondly I would also repaint the brick planter black also, as you can see there is now a much better finish.


It’s so easy, and it really does make a positive impact to the house, all you have to do is a little trim at the end of the year and remember to water the planter regularly.

What does your front garden say about you?

Small Garden Design: Make your front door a really welcoming entrance 


dull shady front


We believe that everyone can have a lovely garden even if you can’t afford to spend very much. We have always tried to show you how you can achieve a gorgeous garden with only a small amount of effort and having only spent what you can easily afford.


Here is a typical modern front garden, a little unloved maybe, but maybe that’s because the owner doesn’t know what to do with it – so it’s just left as grass.


Not very homely though is it, and it can be so much nicer. Incidentally, an attractive front garden not only makes you feel better when you come home, it can also add value to your house – so it is really worth making a little effort.


boring front with yellow planting boring front with a blue and agapanthus boring front, cream planting green door 

So here are 3 different looks and none of them would cost the earth. The garden has been divided by a path in each side, now this can simply be a grass path or it could be shingle or paved. This means you have a sunny border and a shady one.The front door has had a ‘paint’ job too in a couple of the images, just to smarten it up but also to compliment the planting.  Several of the plants used spread easily, so you require fewer to cover the ground, or they self seed so again will fill the bed more quickly. The plants are evergreen mostly and require very little looking after.


This weekend, step out into the front garden and look back to your front door and just ask – what does this garden say about me?


Gardening is not difficult, but if you don’t know much about plants it is difficult to know where to begin. That’s where we can help, we have loads of designs for front gardens (and back ones too) on the website, so why don’t you get a little inspiration and make a statement in your front garden.

Fabulous Front Gardens

Small Garden Design: What does your garden say about you?  


What do visitors think when they wander up your drive?  Do they think what you would like them to think about you.


I bet you have really thought about the decoration in your home, what colour the walls are what furniture you have, but but the first thing people see when they visit you is what’s outside the front door – so a little thought here can make a big impression.


You may not have a very big front garden, and think that it won’t make much difference – it can and it does. So even if you only have a small space, make it gorgeous – it will make you happy too.


This front garden is really quite small, and because it’s a bungalow, you don’t want massive dark heavy planting as it will smother the building.  So we have gone for two styles here, both use plants sun loving plants and neither of then have anything too tall or prickly!



boring front with FF noticed 2

boring front and prairies



The garden has been ‘created’ by the addition of a few circular beds – so you can wander amongst them. In the winter interest is maintained with coloured stems that will glow bright red in the sunshine (perfect for solar xmas lights!). Bulbs can be added for some early spring colour and then you get happy pinks and reds all summer.



This garden is using your senses, there are lots of lovely plants to run your hands over and all will hum with happy bees and insects. Again, you can plant some pretty bulbs for spring and early autumn colour. All in all a simple easy and not too expensive way to change the message your house sends out.



So go on – let’s stop having boring front lawns!


What would butterflies think v1


Wrong tree, wrong place

This must be a real pain to mow around, low wide branches at the base that will prickle anyone who ventures near with the Flymo! The needles and shade created will eventually cause the grass to perish underneath


Wrong Tree, wrong place

Wrong Tree, wrong place

It may look lovely in December with fairy lights on it, but is it worth having the tree there all year just for those 3 weeks?  In addition, this tree can get pretty large, and it will very quickly look completely out of scale to the bungalows around.


Fab Fronts for Sun


I have decided to be a little bold with this makeover using plants from the Fab Fronts for sunny places range.


This lawn faces SE, and will be sunny for much of the day, the plants chosen will thrive in these conditions, and will require very little maintenance.


The lawn has been re-shaped into a oval, you could join the two beds together at the front corner, but I kind of liked the fact that I could wander right through.  Because this is a bungalow, I have used plants that will not grow too large and dominate the surrounding landscape.  The pennisetum used is a really tactile plant, and it will gently sway in the breeze and I guarantee people will want to touch it as they walk down the drive!

pennisetum oriental shogun

The other colours used are purple and a reddy orange, the backdrop is predominantly white and green, so I wanted to use colours that will really stand out. Much better than the lone tree I think!

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