The dirty dozen: how we reclaimed our garden

Jack’s Garden Store Director, Bruce Hazelton, discusses the transformation of his own garden.

The newly transformed Hazelton garden
The newly transformed Hazelton garden

OK, I’ll be honest, I’ve not been the greatest ambassador for the garden industry; my own garden has been somewhat neglected for the last decade. Since having children my wife and I have hardly bothered with it and it’s been rather overrun by children’s toys, weeds and creepers.
Having put in a bit of time, effort and a splash of cash, even though we’re far from finished, I thought I’d share with you some of the very simple things that have transformed our own little patch of England.

1. Trim back

Like many people, we have leillandi conifers across the back of our garden which have grown to monumental proportions in no time. Topping them has provided us with a few more hours of sunlight and a hard trim back has revealed a good few square metres of lost garden.

2. Clean up

We borrowed a jet-wash and spent a day cleaning the patio (before the hosepipe ban, I hasten to add). It’s quite satisfying watching the stone transform from a dirty grey/brown to its original sandy glory. The lighter colour really opens up the area and gives the illusion of greater space.

3. New life for old tat

Our garden furniture has given faithful service over many years. Some of it was a wedding gift, so we’re reluctant to throw it away. A few sheets of sandpaper and a lick of wood lacquer later and it looks like new again.
And for the items that were really past it, we decided to add them to the ‘tip run pile’ and replace with new from our own furniture range.

4. Lick o’ paint

Three summers ago I built the children a playhouse. It’s not an inconsequential construction and is quite conspicuous in the garden, yet it’s starting to look faded. It will be getting a new coat of wood stain shortly.

5. Water treatment

Some years ago I dug a pond in our garden, which was promptly covered over when we had children to prevent them falling in. Now they’re a little bigger, the cover has come off, the pump is getting a service and I’ll be reinstating the water feature to bring a peaceful soundtrack to our oasis of tranquility.

6. Plants

My wife has raided the local garden centre of all the discounted plants – you know, the ones that are a bit lop-sided, possibly broken or have had the flowers knocked off. After a couple of weeks of careful trimming and TLC you wouldn’t know the difference and they have utterly transformed the garden.
Some have been planted into beds, others framing the patio in pots and planters.

7. Chuck the junk

Over the years ‘stuff’ builds up, right? You tuck it behind the garage, at the back of the shed or down the side of the house. And we’ve all been meaning to take it to the tip for, let’s be honest, years. When you next get the chance have a good old look at the rubbish that has accumulated in your garden and resolve to finally get it sorted this weekend.

8. Lawn love

After the lleilandi were trimmed we were left with great bare patches where once there was lawn. Some grass seed, a few weeks and some fat wood pigeons later we’re seeing new shoots of grass.
I’d also recommend using some of the ‘weed and feed’ products available to improve the general condition of your lawn.

9. Weed out

Attack your garden beds and be ruthless. Remove all those ugly, straggly weeds that clutter your borders and give the cultivated plants space to breathe.
We had a number of creepers that were gradually taking over one portion of the garden. At first they looked attractive, and then one day you realise just how far they’ve grown. We cut ours right back and the feeling of space in the areas they dominated is just astonishing.

10. Let there be light

The range of solar-powered garden lights available now is huge. The great thing about garden lighting is the sense of space you get once the sun has set. Where there was previously a black void there is now light, depth and space.

11. Fab fencing

Fencing is just another one of those things that slowly deteriorates until one day a light puff of wind finished the job. Go out and have a good look at your fencing. Are there more holes than panels? If your fence panels are still in good condition treat them to a coat of wood stain and they’ll last a few summers longer.
If not, it’s time to replace!

12. Warm summer evenings

But this is the UK, right? Well, invest in a chiminea or two and your guests will be comfortable long into the evening. (Read Jack’s post on how to safely light a chiminea).

The result

We haven’t gone mad. We haven’t spent an absolute fortune, and we haven’t thrown every waking moment at our garden. Yet we’ve gradually transformed it over the last few weekends or so from an embarrassment to a space where we feel genuinely relaxed, and where many a pleasant evening with friends will be spent over the next few months.
To be honest, I’d forgotten we had a garden; it was more of a playground with weeds. It’s been a real pleasure reclaiming it and I urge you to do the same.

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2 thoughts on “The dirty dozen: how we reclaimed our garden

  1. We've just inherited a garden that has a "flower bed" mostly on a 45 degree slope – challenging! We bought some log edging – the rigid type to give more stability, and have terraced the slope into more manageable beds. After many journeys up and down the steep steps with buckets of topsoil and compost to level out each tier, we have now begun planting and it is beginning to look like a garden. We are being careful to choose plants suitable for semi-shade, as we have learned over the years that it is best to get plants that will like the position you plant them in. Work with nature rather than against it!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Meg. I hope all your hard work pays off. We will be launching a photo competition very soon and look forward to your entry!

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