Allow me to set the scene. Four years ago we moved into what was originally two teeny shoemakers cottages. It was converted in to one dwelling about fifteen years ago and now makes up a modest size home for James and I. As with many Victorian terraces the garden consists of a walled courtyard plot which isn’t particularly large. Thankfully when the house was converted some bright spark also landscaped the space creating a split level garden with a lower cobbled patio, adding steps leading up to a higher level complete with small pond and brick summer house. Thanks to the split level positioning (and a very low house) our east facing plot actually receives sunlight all day with the sun finally disappearing up the distressed wall around 7pm.

Last summer was a busy one. In fact we hardly spent anytime at home at the weekends. There was literally no time for gardening and by the end of the summer you’d have been forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a neglected, rambling jungle. If you look back to my post fourteen months ago you’ll see the garden was jam packed at the start of the growing season and by September it was an overcrowded mess. Our bottom patio was so full of weeds we avoided accessing the garden through the back door (instead using the doors from the top level summer house). On the left hand side the shrubs had become unmanageable dwarfing the garden and swallowing light to the living room. The top right hand area of the courtyard was completely unused and had become a dumping ground for pots, parasols and deck chairs. All-in-all we were only using 50% of the outdoor space.

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Anyone who has followed my garden chronicles and cast their eye over my inspiration post from last weekend will know #projectcourtyard has taken an unjustified length of time. The amount of work we’ve done could easily have been achieved by a couple of people over a week or two so apologies if you are expecting a complete overhaul with bells and whistles. Truth is, like most people, we are time-poor and could only afford to commit a day or two per month to getting the garden ship-shape therefore it’s taken months to get it in its current state.

The aim here was to make more of the space and define areas into ‘zones’ if you will. Here’s what we did:

  • Scraped the mortar out of the bottom level patio, spraying weedkiller and extracting the little blighters before refilling with weed control paving sand. A morning cuppa is much more pleasant out here now
  • Cut back our rampant chinese wisteria in September and again in January
  • Hired a tree surgeon to take out our Purple Flowering Potato Bush and Pyracantha to claim back about a quarter of the garden of the garden
  • Removed two fence panels, replacing with a more modern horizontal design. I’m still in two minds whether to paint over the dark brown stain and instead go for the grey garden paint I tracked down from Wilko.
  • Planted four pleached hornbeam trees. The technique of pleaching creates a lollypop style tree, with a thick trunk at the bottom topped off with shaped leaves on top. They are fairly feeble now but in a few years time they should have filled out to provide more privacy.
  • Added new lighting, including an industrial galvanised lamp in the previously disused area.
  • Removed slate chipping from the disused top right area of the garden, dug foundation and laid new patio slabs
  • Constructed a storage unit with a quarry tiled bar top to store all our gardening paraphernalia, finishing off with two utilitarian stools kindly sent for product review to me by Out There Interiors. This space now works extra hard as not only does if offer storage but also offers many G&T sippage opportunities.
  • Repainted our old garden bench and new storage unit, step stool and outdoor bar with several coats of Wilko grey garden paint. Next year I may go a shade or two darker but for now I think the paler shade fits well with the cottage-urban fusion thing I’ve got going on.
  • Planted tall structural perennials in a purple colour scheme in the the new beds
  • Reworked the overcrowded, haphazard centre bed with shrubs and plants of gradual varying heights. All year-round colour is definitely something I’m going to focus on next year. These images were shot at the end of June when my wisteria, alliums, peonies and scabiosa were nearly finished but my agapanthus, sweet peas and vebena were yet to make an impact. I’m looking forward to watching the borders fill out and spend some time pottering rather than grafting!


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The Bar

We constructed ‘the bar’ over a series of evenings using regular decking boards from B&Q. We made a simple frame then clad with boards.
Inside we added a shelf for extra storage. I’d like to say this is filled with bottles of spirits but instead it’s a home for secateurs, plant food and string. Very rock n roll.
For the top we made a tray like contraption then inside set leftover quarry tiles (from our kitchen floor) and grouted with regular flexible grout.
The team at Out There Interiors contacted me when they found out I was planning a garden renovation and and discussed garden product review options for the courtyard. I am really happy with their Tolix Style stools. I’ll be bringing inside over the winter but as they are stackable they’ll be really easy to store.


Anyone else finished any garden makeovers? Are you getting to spend lots of time outdoors in this glorious weather?