Couple Turn Neglected Garden Into A £2.5k Thailand-Inspired Paradise
- Katy and Ken Roast transformed their neglected garden into a tranquil escape inspired by a much-loved holiday to Thailand
- They did all the hard graft themselves to help keep costs down
- Bought secondhand and sale times wherever possible and the couple say their new, all-weather garden gives them that holiday feeling
Having a relaxing outdoor space to unwind in is a brilliant mood booster, especially if it has a calming, zen-like quality.
It’s exactly the vibe that Katy Roast, 47, a merchandiser for a department store, and her husband Ken, 68, a partially retired police officer from Barking and Dagenham, were seeking to achieve when revamping their neglected back garden. The vision was to create an exotic escape inspired by a much-loved trip to Thailand.
“The project was motivated by a desire for change,” Katy told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “We have a small rectangular garden measuring 5m x 15m, which is enclosed by 1.8m fence panels. After 10 years of not doing much to it, it had become dated and uninspiring.”
Katy was the creative brains behind the project while Ken drew upon his gardening, plumbing and electrical skills to take the lead on the practical aspects.
They spent £2,500 on the garden, snapping up secondhand and discounted items wherever possible and doing all the work themselves in order to keep down costs. The transformation was achieved over eight months and now the couple is eagerly waiting for spring to arrive so they can enjoy their tranquil new space to the max.
“Neither of us could be described as green fingered, so we opted for low maintenance artificial grass and bamboo as the main materials to use for the project,” says Katy.
“As we began the makeover, we noticed that some local branches of a DIY store were closing down. It meant we were able to pick up some bargains, including the grass and bamboo, as well as some gardening ornaments that we used for the finishing touches.”
Armed with the main materials, the couple got down to work.
“The first thing we did was cover the depressing fencing in sheets of bamboo,” says Katy. “It gave an overall lighter finish that had a far softer effect.
“The next step was to replace the sandstone coloured patio,” she says. “It met the conservatory doors at the back of the house and was a very hard surface to step straight out onto. We were keen to switch it for decking.”
Instead of digging up the patio and replacing it, which would have taken a lot more time and expense, the savvy couple decided to use it as a solid foundation for the decking.
“We purchased the wood for the decking from a local timber merchant, which was far cheaper than getting it at one of our local DIY outlets,” she says.
They put down a damp-proof membrane and laid 50 x 100mm timber over the top to complete the sub structure, complete with a step-up to the conservatory.
“The decking wasn't hard to lay,” says Katy. “But getting it level onto the existing slabs of the patio was time consuming.”
Next came the laying of the artificial lawn.
“It was a challenge to level out the subsoil beneath the membrane,” says Katy. “We used a 2.4m length of 50 x 100mm timber, which was dragged and pivoted across the surface. Any recessed areas were tamped and filled by hand where necessary. Finally, we added a layer of sharp sand.
“As there is little footfall we took a bit of a shortcut by not bothering to get it bowling green flat. We took the grass right up to the workshop at the end of the garden.”
Due to the hard graft involved, Katy wanted to be able to use the space all year round so set about finding a way to rainproof it.
“We wanted to build a shelter to shield us from the unpredictable British weather,” says Katy. “We didn't want a totally enclosed space, so we opted for a pergola with a transparent PVC roof.”
Katy found a perfectly sized secondhand pergola for sale locally.
“It had been built in treated pine by the original owner and was constructed to a very high standard,” she says. “We had to dismantle it and rebuild it with some minor alterations in order to fit the space. We gave it a lick of charcoal paint to match the colour scheme and then fitted it completely over the decking.”
The couple quickly realised that they would need to attach it to the existing conservatory to ensure stability.
“This was the challenging aspect of the project,” says Katy. “We had to attach two posts to the brickwork of the conservatory using rawlbolts. After that, we secured a five-metre length of timber to both posts and fixed these to two supporting posts secured to the decking.
“Once the pergola was up, we realised that we didn’t like the view of the corrugated roof so we decided to obscure it with willow fence panels and solar powered fairy lights to give the effect of stars above our heads.”
The decking area was given some extra definition by adding white pebbles around the edges of the decking, which was the perfect place to install the lights. The white pebbles were also added to the three gabion baskets, which were used to make a bench for a small water fountain.
“This was initially a planter, which was fitted with a pond liner and small pond pump,” says Katy.
The feature area was decorated with Buddha head statues, a mirror to bounce the light around, a faux plant and letters made from leftover artificial grass that spell out the word ‘love’.
“There’s also a main female sitting Buddha statue, named Tara, which was a birthday present from my husband,” adds Katy.
The garden furniture was bought online from ManoMano and the chiminea was another secondhand find.
“It was in need of some TLC, so I spray-painted it charcoal and placed a few battery powered pillar candles inside,” says Katy. “The large rug on the decking is made entirely from recycled straws. We bought it from Green Décor and it was a small extravagance.”
Garden design complete, all that was left to do was to sit back and enjoy.
“Spending time in the garden helps to take us back to the experience of being in Thailand,” says Katy. “It’s so relaxing to be able to sit and look at all the hard work we have done – it has really paid off. Ken is out there under the pergola for hours in all weather.”
Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk comments: “We could all benefit from a calming space to retreat to and this tranquil garden is just the ticket.
“Katy and Ken kept a lid on their budget by seeking out secondhand and sales items wherever possible.
“It goes to show that searching around for the best deals pays off in the end.”
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