Garden makeover plans

AD – This post is written in collaboration with HIPPOWASTE.

I’m very happy to say that the concrete in the garden has now gone! Hooray! It feels like a massive weight has been lifted, both figuratively and literally. If you missed my last post pop over and take a look at what our garden looked like a few weeks ago. Since then our contractor J A Whitney Building Contractors was able to organise for one of his team to tirelessly wheelbarrow all of the concrete and rubble out of the garden in just two days. Our HIPPOWASTE MEGABAGs were ready and waiting to be filled to the brim with 1.5 tonnes of concrete. HIPPOBAGs are a brilliant way to dispose of all sorts of waste and it was staggering to see a bag that arrived in a tiny package in the post being filled with such heavy rubble! It was very satisfying watching them being craned away, I can tell you. We have a side access as our house is semi-detached so we put the MEGABAGs there as they need to be no more than 4m from the street for collection purposes. However, you can put them in your front garden or drive as they only measure 180x90cm. If you have no outdoor space at the front of your property you can get a permit from your local council to have them on the street, like you would with a skip. If you have bigger sized pieces of waste there is also a HIPPOSKIP available, which is a larger bag that can fit the equivalent of a two large armchairs, two cookers, a washing machine and a tumble dryer with plenty of room to spare. Do take a look at the options here.

We had three MEGABAGs from HIPPOWASTE to dispose of the concrete that was dug up from our garden.
It was quite a mammoth job once the concrete was dug up to wheelbarrow it all out of the garden into the bags.

One of the other main benefits of the bags for us was that you have six months before the collection cut off date. Mario, who removed the concrete for us, works as part of a team on contracts during the week and came to us at the weekends so a two day job actually stretched over a couple of weeks so the flexibility of HIPPOBAGs worked really well. Being able to fill them over time is a definite plus when doing DIY as we never seem to get stuff done all in one go! I would also consider them for big clear outs for that reason (I’m thinking of our loft) as that type of project can take forever if you’re fitting it around work or whatever else.

The bags are incredibly strong and arrive in a very small flat pack package in the post.

Anyhoo, once the bags were filled a collection was arranged within a couple of days. The truck arrived and we didn’t even need to be at home as they just get craned straight on to the truck – no contact, no hassle. I would highly recommend the service!

Now that the concrete is gone we can get to work on making the garden as useable and child friendly for the summer as possible. Little did we know when we decided to start this project just how important the garden was going to be this year as we are all facing a summer in our homes so I feel incredibly grateful that we have this space and the ability to improve it. We won’t be spending a huge amount of time or resources on the planting side of things at this point as that may prove too difficult under lockdown. We will try and get a few bursts of colour planted for this summer at least but I reckon the focus on design and planting will be for next year.

In the meantime, we’re very much focused on covering where the concrete was with the best surface for us and the way we live in the house. I was very much in favour of a budget friendly option such as pea shingle as I love the way it looks but Jules was very against that idea as he doesn’t like the way it feels underfoot and he doesn’t want to step down from the house. He really wants a deck, which is a good idea as it can be raised and extend straight out of the living room and kitchen, which would effectively give us more living space as we would make it 3.6m deep. This would be a great surface for Mimi to play on and give us extra dining and living space. However, lots of you have told me that your decks have rotted or become slippery and slimey. Therefore, we have chosen smooth deck boards as its the grooves that collect water and dirt and we have a pressure washer to keep them clean. We intend to build an extension where the deck will be in the next few years so it won’t be there for years and years so we hope to avoid the issues that some of you helpfully raised. I would say this definitely isn’t the cheapest option but we’re doing it all ourselves so it’s just the materials we have to pay for and we feel like we’re going to get a return on what we spend based on the amount we’ll use it just this summer alone! It’s basically going to cost us what a budget week away would have done.

The whole back of the house opens up on to the garden so a raised deck of smooth boards running in the same directions as our floorboards should help to extend our living area and make the inside of our house feel bigger.

On the left hand side of the garden we will plant grass seed to cover where the concrete was but the whole garden will need re-turfing next year because it’s so uneven and bumpy. I want to replace all of the green along the right hand side of the fence as well as introducing lots of lovely planting. At the end of the garden Jules has grand plans for a workshop so we won’t be touching that space at all. We put up a half pergola to support the Clematis and Wisteria that belongs to our neighbour as it used to just hang down on the ground or rest on the old shed. We have strung heavy duty wire up from the pergola to the fence posts so hopefully that will be enough to train what flops over. I’m also thinking of planting my potted wisteria into the ground and training it up the pergola.

The Clematis and Wisteria as well as a fox or two had badly damaged the fences here so we have replaced those and put up a half pergola to support them this year. We hope that it will be enough to take the weight of the plants as we couldn’t afford a full pergola as they cost a fortune!
You can see here in the top right corner the new fence panels and pergola with heavy duty wire and we have begun to train the Clematis and Wisteria on to it. We won’t have quite as much of the Wisteria on our side of the fence this year as we replaced the panels with no trellis at the top so a lot of it is back on our neighbour’s side but fingers crossed it will be ok.

We’ve already repositioned the fence and put in a new gate to the side access, which makes the garden and back of the house look and feel so much bigger. You have all assured me that these BRIGHT orange dipped fence panels are going to be the same colour as the gate in no time!!

Jules dug out the old fence posts and re positioned them so the fence no longer angles into our garden but goes in a straight line down to the side access. We therefore gain some space, which is great. You can see how it used to look in the picture at the start of this post.

We can’t wait to get started on the deck now so we don’t have to clamber over rubble for much longer. Watch this space!

Katy x



  1. Longdenlife
    7th April 2020 / 10:43 am

    I’d agree with not using pea gravel – every cat in the local neighbourhood will use is as their own, personal litter tray – I speak from experience!!

    • katy
      7th April 2020 / 10:45 am

      A big advantage of a dog is we don’t get cats in the garden! But maybe he would use it as a litter tray – ha! X

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