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From utter neglect to something to be proud of....


My partner Nikki & I moved into our house in October 2008 & the back garden had not been touched for about ten years! The landlord, who’d lived there in this ten years kept two dogs & gave them the run of the garden. As you can imagine, a decade of doing nothing rendered this whole area quite grim!

I only took one “before” picture:

The above picture was taken in November 2008 & early next Spring, we got to work clearing it up. There was loads of shingle at the top end with tons of weeds sprouting through. My Mum (Anita) came round to lend a hand & after noticing they weren’t rooted very deep, she cleared away some shingle away to reveal a large concreted area!

All of the brick structures had fallen or been knocked over, so Nikki rebuilt them & cleared out all of the weeds

We decided that the shingle would be better suited somewhere else, So I took about 3" off half of the lawn, lined it with heavy duty polythene sheeting (with plenty of holes for drainage) & started to shift it. I should mention at this point that as there was so many weeds, twigs &…waste, I hand sieved every last stone!

We unearthed this when we removed the shingle & we were unsure what it was so we started to remove the contents. The deeper we went, the more aprehensive we got! would we find the remains of an old family pet? Gold bullion? Lord Lucan? Once we’d finally removed all the shingle filling the hole, we were greeted by a load of broken up asbestos :-o so we covered it back up quickly LOL!

The old oil drum I found in the back alleyway came in VERY handy for getting rid of all the waste we’d accumulated.
Once most of the shingle had been moved, Nikki set about locating her numerous pots & troughs

Even Titch the Jack Russell “helped”. Notice the pile of earth I removed from the lawn is still there!

Things are starting to take shape now, I also painted the fence with Ronseal one coat 3 year wood stain. It took 3 coats & it’s wearing off already. I won’t be buying Ronseal stuff again!

This was taken in May 2009, as you can see – the lawn still needs a lot of work!

Some random shots of our first years flowers:

Still got a bit of shingle left over – we have plans for that!

A better view of the “lawn”

Got some outdoor LED lights to put around the arch (or “the rift” as we call it)

Taking shape nicely now

I have plans for this barren little patch!

Found somewhere to put the last bit of shingle

A great use of leftover bricks

Veiw through our lovely arch. Nikki has a penchant for hanging strange things in our garden, they attract a few comments but really add to it’s bespoke theme

& the other side

Plenty of wildlife here too

We had a lot of lights & candles last Summer

Jan 2010 & this little Blackbird was enjoying some treats on a makeshift bird table

UPDATE – 15 august 2010

Ok, Nikki & I have been out this morning & I took a few more snaps!
Remember I said I had plans for the small patch nearest the house, well with very little cost & lots of swearing, brute force AND ignorance, I decided I to build a small stream.
From this

To this

Practically everything (apart from the plants) came from Freecycle;
pump, liner (old airbed), slate & reservoir!
here’s some more shots

The frogs seem to love it, I have trouble checking the level of the reservoir as there’s usually a couple sat on the mesh on top of it!

Some more taken today

we have loads of lights in the garden so I’ll try & get out as dusk tonight & rattle off a few more piccies, so I’ll sign off for now with a couple more random shots.
Bye for now :o)

The new nursery

More blog posts by zacspeed

Next post: Another challenge.....



I don't just like this blog - I LOVE it!! You've all worked so hard and it's stunning!! Ideas ideas ideas - and recycling to the max - you must enjoy it so much!! and the hanging things aren't odd LOL - you say 'hope you enjoy' - well I have - very much - thank you for sharing and you are justly proud - cheers - Cate =)))

11 Aug, 2010


absolutly brill,gives me hope for my garden(makes me freak when i look at it)chris

11 Aug, 2010


Well done, you have worked very hard and now you can sit and look at the finished results.......Its all worth it.

11 Aug, 2010


Well done son. As your Mum, I also think other GOYers should know that until you started this project, you knew absolutely nothing about about plants, trees, soil, landscaping etc. With Nikki's patience and help, you now know all the plant names in your garden and most of the one's in mine too! You have both worked so hard and deserve all the praise you receive!

12 Aug, 2010


Absolutley fantstic, you must be very proud, we have recently done a complete make over of our garden and it is a brilliant feeling unfortunately we don't have a picture of before which is such a shame ..Well done

12 Aug, 2010


Well done! The best thing is that you have years of interest and pleasure ahead of you as you add, change things round, fall for new plants etc. Enjoy.

12 Aug, 2010


what an amazing job you have both done, your garden is now something to be proud of, I love your little stream too :-)))))

18 Aug, 2010


I have to say that you've inspired me to join up to this site just so i could make a comment on what a fantastic job you have all done. Great that used what you had in the garden to start with and then freecycled most other stuff, also like the fact that as you mentioned your renting the property you've forward planned and planted a lot of plants in pots so there easy movable.

Im a real novice in the garden but im determined to make it look beautifull next year and you've given me some insperation.

Can i ask what the plant is in picture 36 ( or the 6th one up) the green long leaf plant with the orange flower flowers.

21 Aug, 2010


Hi Urbancookie I've just read your comment above and the answer to your question is ' Monbretia'.....Happy Gardening!!!!!!!!!!!

21 Aug, 2010


Thanks for all the kind comments :-D It has been a pretty hard slog at times but the end result was well worth it. I should add (as my Mum has), I knew nothing about plants, gardening or planning before I undertook this. Nikki has a very good knowledge & she has been VERY patient with me LOL! It's such a great feeling to sit back on these lovely Summer evenings & think - we did this!! I have learned a lot but there is still room for improvement. Thanks again for the lovely comments & the warm welcome I have received on GOY :-))

22 Aug, 2010


WELL ~Done, Zacspeed,, I felt quite emotional looking at your step by step garden creation, Im sure it was hard work but what a transformation, my back and front gardens were so over grown with everthing My 2 Daughters and German shepard dog could hide in it, take a look at my photos, youve done fantastic, 8~))))

28 Sep, 2010


i love your photos!! great transformation :0)

23 Jan, 2011


I love the way you transformed the neglected garden. I have also got a few tips for my own garden. Thanks!

18 Jun, 2011

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