You may have been watching Love Your Garden this summer and thinking you could never have such a wonderful garden design unless you have loads of money (or a surprise appearance by a team of TV gardeners).

Well, the good news is, you don’t always need a big budget and a team of experts to get a fabulous look in your own garden. If you know the tricks, there’s a lot you can do on a smaller budget, and I’m going to talk about some of the ways we get the fabulous styles you see on the telly.

Garden Kitchens

Most people’s version of a kitchen garden is a rusting BBQ sat on the patio. But creating a real garden kitchen is an incredible feature, especially when you want to have friends and family over on summer afternoons for a few drinks and some good food. With a real garden kitchen you never have to leave the garden, and you can laugh and enjoy each other’s company while hosting and preparing the food.


For this garden we sunk a BBQ grill within a solid slab of stone, but that requires some pretty serious tools and expertise. Luckily, there are simpler ways to do it. A work surface can be constructed with breeze blocks around the outside and a work surface made from exterior ply or another waterproof material such as a plastic worktop or even treated wood, and all of which are much easier materials for you to cut into to make your inset BBQ. You can have a great area for food preparation and cooking in no time.

You could even put a sink in as well! If you visit your local camping or caravan shop you can get a sink that drains and pumps to allow you to wash your hands and utensils while you’re cooking.

If you have an exposed area where winds can be strong then you may want to put screening round the back of the construction. The screen wall we built in this garden looks fancy, Frances used leftover pallet wood to create it, and she got creative by building it with a window frame effect.

Throw in some garden furniture and you have an incredible kitchen and dining area outside.


Creative Borders

Planted borders don’t have to be just a bit of soil, bark chip, and some shrubs – they can be a chance to get really creative.

In this area we used a clever combination of beautiful grasses, miscanthus and festuca, and some phormiums for that lovely swordlike effect. Contrasting those upright tufts of planting, the underlayer is made of large beach pebbles instead of standard soil or chips.

I think that contrast between the sharp foliage and the rounded stones goes really well. To make something even more striking you can buy different coloured aggregates as well, and even different coloured grasses that come in golds, greens, or purples.


Outdoor Buildings

Now outdoor buildings are more of an investment for sure, but they are becoming more and more popular across the UK, with people realising they are worth up saving for. This one was made by Rockwood Garden Studios, who do some incredible designs. For this garden it was installed as an escape and play area for the kids, but it is just as good as an outdoor office, lounge, or even a movie room with a projector and some comfy chairs or beanbags. It’s an escape at the bottom of the garden, and it can make you feel miles away from everything (which is what we all need sometimes).


Swing Seats

Swing seats work really well in a garden, both in terms of style and as a really relaxing way to spend time in your garden. The rocking motion is so soothing and takes us right back to our childhood. Individual seats with the framework included look amazing, but for a cheaper equivalent you can always go for a classic hammock. They can be positioned, not just on the patio, but also tucked into the borders which gives a great effect.


Surface Textures

Using different surfaces is so important to creating a dynamic garden. Here you can see four distinct surfaces: aggregate around borders, paving set into grass, the lawn itself, and planted borders including raised beds. Right in the foreground you can also see the concrete slab patio. There’s no decking in this garden, but that’s another great surface. Wood chip paths can be really lovely and give a very natural look. There are so many different surfaces, or ‘garden carpets’ as I like to call them, you can use to create great visual effects and accentuate your design.


Other Features

As you can see above we used aggregate edging to add character to the combination of deep border planting and lovely crisp lawns. We also inset some of the paving lengthways into the lawn to create stepping stones into the garden, which is such a stylish way to bridge your hard landscaped areas and your lawn. The blue fence panels add more character as a backdrop, and in accentuating the background against the foreground with a bright colour will actually make your garden appear larger.


Finishing Touches

It’s all about styling the garden, and we used a variety of effects in this one. The BBQ area looks nice as it is, but the logs stacked at the front just give it that incredible finish. You can buy these logs at most garage forecourts and in other places too. You can make features with them in the garden borders too which will create havens for beetles, hedgehogs and other wildlife in your garden.

In addition, you can see a difference of foreground and background, with the raised garden kitchen area at the front, then the black poles slightly “on the wonk” as Alan likes to call it, then further back there is planting (and a few planted containers to bring the plants into the kitchen area too), and then the bright fencing at the back. It gives you a great feeling of depth within that garden, and this photo shows that really well.

I hope these tips are helpful for you as you create a garden that you love, and show you that you don’t need lots of money and manpower to create a wonderful garden, just some bright ideas and a bit of elbow grease!