Top Tip for a Perfect Garden Makeover

Without a doubt, the most important thing to get right when planning any future garden makeover project is to set clear objectives.

Trying to makeover a garden without clear objectives is a bit like building a house without a plan. Only a fool would undertake to build anything without a clear idea of what or how it will all look when completed.

Your objectives should include some or all of the following:

1. Decide what you want to include in your new garden

2. Know what you want to get rid of/or disguise in your garden – eg, that ugly rear fence needs cloaking or finally ridding yourself of that terrible shed, which blocks all your light.

3. Whether you want to increase the time you’re going to spend actually working in your garden, or you want to create a garden where you work less and relax more (the low maintenance garden)

All too often I come across unfinished garden makeover projects. You’ve probably seen them in your own neighbourhood.

Gardens dominated by unfinished patios complete with faded blue tarpaulin; pathways leading to nowhere; large mounds of compacted soil where eventually ‘the lawn will be’, and so on.

The standing joke at every year’s barbeques is when will they get around to finishing it.

Of course there’s nothing funny about unfinished garden projects. There’s nothing relaxing or inspirational arriving home every day from work to be greeted by mounds of earth, overgrown weeds and building materials strewn everywhere.

An unfinished garden isn’t the only consequence of poor planning. It also invariably represents foolhardy spending.

Remember that Saturday morning trip to the garden centre where you loaded your trolley sky-high will all sorts of plants and shrubs that you really have no idea about? Then grabbed a second trolley for those irresistible ‘buy two get one free’ offers? And finally on the way out you treated yourself to an early Christmas present with that third trolley for that special Mediterranean thingy, which you thought would look great on the new patio.

When finally you reach the checkout your bill is something resembling the Third World Debt, but nevertheless you smile through it all telling yourselves it’ll all be worth it in the end.

Outside in the car park you cram and slam all your purchases into your car breaking off branches, leaves and stems as you try and squeeze it all into an impossibly small space.

Back at home you start working on planting them all up, but you’ve failed to realise how hard the ground is. Not to mention you’ve hurt your back lifting that hypera-something out of the car.

So it’s a quick tea-break and then you get caught up with the children/telly/favourite book etc and before you know it the weekends gone and all your new purchases will just have to sit it out in their pots until time allows.

Unfortunately next weekend you don’t have the time so you postpone planting for another week and on it goes until your shrubs are well and truly pot-bound and overgrown with all sorts of undesirable pests and start to die off….

Trust me. If you haven’t already been there, you soon will. Unless of course you take a tip from top gardeners as to how they plan and create their gardens.

Next time when you look at a beautiful garden remember that it’s about 1% creativity and inspiration – the rest is down to great planning.

So when deciding on any makeover, regardless of how small – begin by setting your objectives.

Decide what you want from your new garden and then agree how much you’re willing to spend.

Get this part right and you’re far less likely to end up with something unwanted, unfinished and unloved.

Paul Power is the author of Starting Your Own Gardening Business and Planning and Creating Your First Garden. He runs a number of workshop based gardening courses throughout the year and for those who cannot attend in person can take a E-course. Visit his online Top Tips for Gardener’s Website at

Author: Paul Power
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