Advice for a small garden on a small budget!


Brand new to the forum but hoped you could help. I've tried to attach an image of my small garden. We have recently moved into the flat and our garden goes as far as the brown bin in the middle. It's not large but it would still be lovely to do a little something with it. 

The thing we would like most is somewhere to sit in it. The sun arrives towards the rear of our garden at around 12 and is around until 5-6pm so hopefully later still in the summer. 

Ideally we'd like to tidy up the front of it and put in some flower beds which we can manage. At the rear we'd like some paving or decking and a nice covered area to sit however I think it will be cost prohibitive for us this year. We could wait until next year and do all this, but I wondered what everyone thought about this idea...

Could we just buy and assemble this? This would in effect give us some decking (albeit just inside the structure) plus a covered area. The sun sets to the left of the image so I thought the top right of the garden would be the best place so that it provides some cover but will still get a nice bit of sun as the sun sets?

Do you think this would be a sensible idea? And maybe we can build up the garden some more next year? Would this look too big in my garden? Haven't measured it but seems around 4m in width by 9/10m in length?

Appreciate the input and open to any other ideas!




  • Kevin daleKevin dale Posts: 135

    Hello if I were you forget the decking its a waste of time concentrate on having some borders and a sitting area look in garden magazines for free seeds they do work and visit garden nursery's rather than garden centres they are cheaper and have more choice and more garden knowledge 

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,164

    as money is tight. I just sow grass seed. As and when finances allow, you can have a proper "patio", "decking" , " sitting area, but for the first year, just plop your loungers, table chairs on the grass. We all know it'll mess the grass up, but you need to prioritise eh? I'd agree with growing stuff from seed in the first year. Ask family friends, and indeed, your new neighbours , if they've got stuff they're splitting, getting rid of etc etc. Free stuff is always great. Look out for gate sales, car boot sales, jumble sales etc for some really cheap plants to get you going. If they're cheap, you'll not mind ditching them as you realise what you really want.

    Live with your new garden. As my dear late mother would have said " act in haste: repent at leisure."

    Good luck and keep us posted eh?


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 351

    Hi there, I've looked at both the photos, and wonder if this particular structure would be too big for your space. It seems rather expensive and would not be very easy either to construct or to take down and move it with you when/if you left the flat.

    My thoughts would be to kill most of the grass off with glyphosate and/or dig it up (big job!) and lay a thick layer of gravel over it  which would be relatively cheap, but again time consuming and bags of gravel are very heavy. Do you have side access to the garden or does it all have to come through the flat?  I would suggest just a table and chairs plus umbrella for the time being, until you see just how often you get to sit outside!

    You could just keep the grass and a little hover mower would keep it under control, but you'd have to mow it at least once a week. Or you could think of dividing the space into thirds, top third square decking boards (easy-peasy and cheap), 2nd third grass and bottom third the gravel square. Some plants in big pots, and maybe a barbecue and hey presto you have a garden.

    Good luck

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10
    Thanks for such prompt and thoughtful replies I really appreciate it!

    I think you're right, the structure might be too large and a bit tricky/expensive to put together

    Laying some gravel on the top third of the garden to make an area where we could place a table and chairs might be a great idea! Presumably I could put a sheet down to stop things growing through the gravel? ( apologies I am a complete novice ). Would this be cheaper and easier to maintain than decking?

    I do have side access which helps

    My wife really likes the idea of a fire pit but might be too much to take on this year

    Thanks again!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,776

    I think I'd go for the 'mow once a week' option - that'll produce a nice firm lawn if you start now, then get a good teak table and chairs with a parasol (we bought ours second hand for £60).  No one had decking until Groundforce hit the tv screens, now it seems that no one can sit in the garden without it image  The problem is that the space under the decking provides the perfect home for rats!  I simply wouldn't have it in my garden.  

    Pave a patio when you can afford it but until then mow the grass, plan the garden and plant up some beds, maybe put up some trellis and climbers as partitions for privacy  - maybe create a sitting area with gravel and make a pergola over it covered with climbers if you really don't want to put your furniture on grass.  

    I'd suggest getting a copy of - it'll show you how to create the sort of garden that you want, without spending a fortune.  

    You've the makings of a lovely garden there. image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Jack 3Jack 3 Posts: 360

    I moved into our place last year and didn't have that much money to be spending on the garden. 

    Every time we were in the garden centre, I'd look at the section where they have cheap plants that look almost dead. I'd get lavender and stuff for about 50p each. Now they are growing big and look healthy.

    I also wanted a secluded seating area. I eventually bought some plum slate and put it in part of the garden. Months later all weeds had grown through. I had to take it all up again and wash all the bits that had got stuck in the mud. It took ages to get up, tough lesson learned. We were decorating the spare room, so I stripped out the carpet, put that under the slate, seems fine now.

    You could buy some trellis and make a little three sided stucture, a lot lot cheaper than that gazebo and grow stuff up it.

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    This is all sounding very sensible...

    Perhaps we'll stick to getting some flowers bedded in for now, buying a nice table and chairs and maybe the trellis to begin to create some privacy in the seating area

    The main concern is that we cant really afford to put some nice fencing around the plot but we would love block out the overgrown neighbours garden behind ours (at the top of the image).

    Do you think it would look strange if we put up a fence the same height as next door to the rear of the garden, plus a trellis 2/3rds towards the back of the garden to make a more private area to sit? May not look good without a fence around the other parts of the garden.

    Maybe the answers will be in that link to the complete first time gardener image

  • GardenmaidenGardenmaiden Posts: 1,095

    It might be worth you looking at the deeds in case you can't replace the wire fence, which doesn't look very good. We have a patch of that towards the bottom of our garden and we can't replace it so instead have grown plants close to it so it disappears, and some plants have hidden it for us.

    There is a seed share and a seed swap thread(s) on the forum and this I have found is very useful if you have extra seeds and want to find them a good home or someone has seeds of something you would like to grow your self.

    If you want plants now, I would look in the reduced section in your local garden centres and also check out B&Q as they can also have some bargains.

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 351

    Yes, you could put up a fence at the back and perhaps in an "L shape i.e. a bit in front of the wire fence to the side,but you do need a good book or a friend/relative to advise how to do it. The trellis would also look good to give you some privacy and you could grow something like sweet peas or morning glory which are tall annual climbers.

    I would also try Freecycle if there is one in your area as people often dig things up and offer them for free. You could also try planting some tall annual grasses to help hide the fence.

    The garden will look much better when the plants (whatever they are) on the side boundary are in leaf anyway.

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    You can see by the picture above that we're getting somewhere! It looks a lot better for a little tidy up.

    I really like that L shape idea but I also want to block out the neighbour to the left as they have various things overgrowing onto our garden. So I've marked up an idea on the picture...

    How do you think it would look to have trellis following the red line that i've drawn on, so the full length of the left of the garden, the back, and then down the other side and in to create that privacy?

    Then all we would need to do is to get some growers and other plants for the front of the garden, and put a table, chairs and perhaps an umbrella in the partitioned off area to the top right of the garden. I've also marked in blue where i'd like a pole for washing, this would stop the washing line being over the seating area.

    Would appreciate suggestions on height of the trellis. Do you think the same heigh all the way round or varying height? For reference the neighbour fence on the right is around 5ft

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    think this might do the job, just need to think about the height now, all suggestions welcome!

  • star gaze lilystar gaze lily Posts: 11,082

    Wow, what a difference,  you've been working hard.

    Is there anything in the deeds about height of fences? Or did you say you had a landlord? There might be a restriction on fence/hedge heights. 

    You can get firepits from B & Q etc, but its best to put them on paving slabs as the heat burns the grass. We got 4 slabs and put ours on them in the area where we sit. But put the pit away during winter months. Sorry i'm rambling lol.

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    Thanks for the reply! Yeah think we might delay the firepit until the trellis is up.

    We own the flat and there are no restrictions. You can see the neighbours fence to the right which is around 5ft (1.5m I imagine)

    Do you think we should match the 1.5m height or would that look too high being trellis? We want some privacy but dont want it to look like a fortress! They do 1.2 and 0.9m here too

  • star gaze lilystar gaze lily Posts: 11,082

    Could you make a corner shaped pergola with trellis inbetween posts? Then grow sweetpeas or clematis up the trellis. I'll

    l try and find a pic.

  • star gaze lilystar gaze lily Posts: 11,082





    Something like this, or perhaps your own design.







  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    thanks those are some really interesting ideas! I like the idea of posts between the trellis, the pergola would be really nice but would probably mean the fence would need to be higher (1.8m maybe) which might make our garden look a little too walled off, the project is definitely moving though!

  • star gaze lilystar gaze lily Posts: 11,082

    Just have a corner trellis without the pergola top, you could have it as big/small as you need.

    Look forward to more pics  image

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 351

    Your tidied up garden looks tons better already, so well done. I think the trellis all round as per your red line would look great and much easier to put up. The posts have to go about 2 ft into the ground so you'll need them taller than your trellis and you can get quick setting post cement which makes it easier for about £5 a bag. You might find 6ft trellis easier and cheaper to get (as it's most popular) than 4 or 5ft which is daft I know, but it's easy to cut down to the size you want. I use " Buyfencingdirect" online who deliver direct (and it's Forest Fencing which is a good make)

    Good luck.

  • smfdurhamsmfdurham Posts: 10

    Hi, we are hoping to get a fence up within the next few weeks which is exciting

    we'll have a 4ft trellis fence running around 2 and a half sides of our garden and are interested in having clematis, honeysuckle, sweet peas and vine tomatoes to climb the trellis

    any tips for a complete beginner?


  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,107

    My tip is to buy the clematis as small plants (the magazines/newspapers often have "free" offers - or the GCs do them 4 for £10 sometimes).  They get established much quicker than the expensive, bigger ones.  And plant them about 4 inches deeper than they were in their pot. Have fun - it looks like an exciting projectimage

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
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