Our Garden Project - Rip up and start over!

15 Apr 2008
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United Kingdom
Hi Chaps,

My girlfriend and I are doing our first house together. I thought I'd share our garden project with you.

When we moved in, the existing garden had been cobbled together. It was a shabby un-planned wreck of a graden... The shed says it all!


The first job was to plan out what we wanted. The garden sat naturally on a slight slope, approximately 2 feet over 25 feet length, or around about.
We decided that we wanted a flat area and to compliment our contemporary style (of which we are styling our house) we would have something neat and tidy, easy to keep and split level.

The second job was to actually start! A mini digger was required!
(My girlfriend loves all of this, and is not afraid of getting muddy!)



Under the "patio" (and I use the word as loosley as the slabs were "laid" - 1cm of concrete over stagnent clay! LOL) was a load of rubble and construction waste brick etc. All of this waste was taken to the dump in my Renault Laguna, purpose bought for the house renovation. Running on vegetable oil it saved us a fortune in skips:


Once the majority of the waste was removed, we set about levelling the garden. We did this by dragging the higher soil back towards the house, and building up the boundaries we wanted to be split-level - almost like colouring in between the lines!


When we got the rough levels to an acceptable state, we set about constructing a perimitter. We used specially pressure-treated timber and panelling.



We then used some old paving slabs behind this timber frame to help distribute weight and keep water from leaking. The level was then back-filled up to the frame.

The garage plans we have will probably feature in another post, as will the rest of the house - which at this stage we had not touched yet. Our trail of thought was that if we got the garden sorted initially, it then has time to flourish whilst we progress with the rest of the house!

Once we had these levels fairly sorted, we hired a rotorvator. This made moving the soil around much easier, and also prepared before turfing.


It also provided a bit of a motivation as it really made a big visual difference! Once the desired levels were ok, we raked the larger lumps out.

We also added sleepers to create a boundary for the borders.


During this stage, I enlisted the help of a friend to help me install a new fence. We opted for vertical board type fence as they are better quality and sturdier than the woven-type. We got it nice and straight and are happy with the results.



Once this was all done, we turfed the lawn. This was all very straightforward. The grass took well (pics later).

Before progressing to the next stage, a friend and I fitted 2 x French doors to the back of the house, where we had knocked 2 rooms into 1. This makes a very light kitchen space, as we wanted to be able to open our house right into the garden during the summer.




I cannot say how dubious I was about cutting the back off our house! The mess was immense. We borrowed a petrol disc cutter from my girlfriends uncle. It took about 5 minutes!

After the doors were fitted, we moved our kitchen from one side of the room to the other including all of the services etc. This was so you will get an "instant impact" when entering the house - There's no point having a nice kitchen if you have to walk into the room, then turn round to see it!

We fitted the bones of the new kitchen before setting about building a sturdy frame for our decking:



In the next picture you can see the grass (although summer means it went a bit dry!)


We got the levels perfect which made putting the decking down a doddle. My girlfriends father made spacers for us from a certain thickness of Fibre board which means the gaps are spot on.


Unlike our kitchen, the decking is now finished!!!!!!!! :)




I think it makes a big difference from what it was!!!!!


and just to prove it, I did do "some" of the work.....!


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When I first saw you "pre" picture I thought that was the finished garden!!! Not sure I would describe it from that picture as a wreck of a garden by any means but I appreciate you wanted it changed to a more "modern" style. Actually if you zoom in I can see what you mean about the paving

I very much like the two sets of doors on the back - that will be a lovely room for the summer months and when we eventually do our extension I would also like either double french doors or even preferably the folding doors

Well done on all the hard work (to your missus that is!)

PS shouldn't you have lintels installed above new openings for french doors?
Well done on all the hard work (to your missus that is!)

PS shouldn't you have lintels installed above new openings for french doors?

Thank you!

The garden was a wreck - nothing and I mean nothing was done properly and it was all bodged and done here and there... It was a right state! :p

RE: Lintels, the rear of the house had 1 x Patio door to the right and an existing window/door to the left. If you look at the pictures you mighht see that we chipped off some of the rubbish cruddy render to check what was beneath it (This will be totally removed and done properly at some point in the near future). There are soldier bricks running above both french doors, and additionally internal lintels behind these. Without these, we would have had to have had support when cutting off the brickwork and added structural supports... We had to do this to get the fireplace of choice, and also to have 2 x internal french doors fitted from both sides in to the hallway (//www.diynot.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=132304&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0)

EDIT: We would have prefferred 1 large bifolding door accross the whole back (which was the plan). However, the cost of this was immense (about 6 times the price), plus we would have ahd to support the building, remove both existing lintles and had 1 large steel accross the whole length - which in itself would have been £££! Very pleased with the end result.

Gallen, put your photo's in the Garden Sticky at the top of the page ;)
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Well done! Looking good. And there's nowt hotter than a woman on a digger! Lucky man.
Excellent, hard work but well worth it :)
Well done! A lot of work. I didn't think your original garden looked that bad compared to some of the shambles I see on a daily basis. Watch out for your lawn settling, and becoming uneven over time - best fixed by adding sieved top dressing into any hollows during the growing season.

Lawn will need plenty of water in summer dry spells due to being raised.
Hi Gallen,

Where did you get your timber for the raised lawn and much did it cost??


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