Garden makeover: a holiday at home that's full of happy colour

Formerly a drab space in comparison to the couple’s house, bright paint was used to upcycle their garden into a fun outdoor living room

Colourful garden makeover
(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Like many home-owners, this couple waited until they had got their house sorted before turning their attention to the outdoor space. Though a fairly uninspiring space, it did have some well-established plants. It had been rented out before the couple moved in. So no one had looked after it for years and it needed some TLC. 

However, you could tell it had been a space someone really cared about at one point and it had lots of potential to be brought back back to life with some plant additions and bold upcycling projects. 

Owner Hannah Pottinger-Banks, 35, is enthusiastic instagrammer @hannahscolourfulworld who is known for her colourful interiors. 'I love colour and it was important that the space reflected that,' she told us.

Read on to discover the tricks and tips behind this bright transformation, then take a look at our garden design ideas for extra inspiration for your plot.

The original garden and how it looked before

Before shot of Hannah Pottinger-Banks garden makeover

(Image credit: Hannah Pottinger-Banks)

Though in desperate need of a personal touch, the bare bones of the garden were a good starting point on which to build. There was a concrete patio, but the slabs were a bit higgledy-piggledy and needed replacing, so better patio ideas were needed. 

The lawn was in good condition but the couple felt tied down by the endless mowing and maintenance it needed.

The plan for the makeover

bright small garden makeover

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

The couple wanted a space which would reflect their personality and match the style of their interiors. The original budget was just £2,000 so lots of the updates came down to their own talent and creativity. 

They wanted to utilise the top of the garden which gets the sun. Overall it would need to be a space with different areas to chill out. As well as containing enough plants and flowers to make it feel like a proper garden. Ultimately the couple wanted to achieve a space which felt personal to them.

The plants, chosen for their bold colour included: Azalea, small to medium-sized shrubs with funnel shaped flowers and narrow leaves. They will brighten pots and borders from late April. David Austin Rose ‘Lady of shallot’, whose rich orange blooms have a tea-like fragrance and slightly arching stems. And climbing clematis which make great planting companions with roses for a cottage garden-style plant scheme.

Maintenance was a big factor to consider. Whilst wanting flowers and plants to enjoy the couple didn't want to spend all their time tending the garden and not enough time relaxing in it. Therefore the decision was made to replace the lawn with artificial grass in order to cut out the seemingly endless task of maintaining it. 

Looking for a no-mow option? Our alternatives to grass cover everything from fake turf to bark and gravel.

A colourful ribbon curtain backdrop

Ribbon curtain to create a bright backdrop

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

This is so easy to make and will ripple with colour when hung up along a fence. You will need a wooden or metal pole about 1m in length and different coloured ribbons. Cut the ribbon into 2m lengths. 

Depending on the material of the pole you’ve chosen glue, tie or staple the ribbons to secure them onto the pole. Mount the pole onto the garden wall or fence. 

Working with limited cash? Our budget garden ideas will help you get the most out of every penny.

Filling the space with pots of blooms

Painted pallet used as a hanging plant support

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Pots are a great choice for adding instant colour. Even more so when they are mounted on a painted pallet. Thanks to their existing slats, pallets are ideal for fixing hanging pots to. 

Hannah painted the slats to tie in with the colourful theme throughout the garden. Containers with hooks are readily available from garden centres or online and are ideal for this purpose.

Upcycling pallets into sofas

outdoor sofa made of pallets

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

The pallets for the seating were gifted from a friend who used them for their wedding. It's always worth asking around friends and family as well as local trades people to see if any scrap materials are going spare. 

You might end up making a find which could save you money. These pallets were sanded, painted and stacked to form simple sofas. Cushions were then added for comfort and colour.

There's so much you can do with pallets – our pallet furniture ideas are packed with inspo.

Styling up an alfresco dining area

Bright outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

The table and chairs were left by the previous owners and were at the house when the couple first moved in. They resisted the instinct to throw them out and get new ones and decided to spruce them up. Take their cue with our guide to how to clean garden furniture.

With a wash down and a lick of paint they look good as new. The strips of colour on the backdoor also tie in with the rest of the look.

Adding unique finishing touches to complete the look

Flamingo garden ornament

(Image credit: Future/Colin Poole)

Throughout Hannah's garden you'll find quirky additions. When put together they create a vibrant and unique picture. For example the tropical flamingo ornaments add fun and flair. Elsewhere you'll find painted picture frames, a patterned rug even a hollowed out neon drum used for storage. 

Enjoy another garden makeover: a low-maintenance garden full of clever design ideas

Personal touches like this can be added as time passed, making this a never ending creative journey!

Teresa Conway
Deputy Editor

Teresa has worked as an Editor on a number of gardening magazines for three years now. So she is lucky enough to see and write about gardening across all sizes, budgets and abilities. She recently moved into her first home and the garden is a real project! Currently she is relishing planning her own design and planting schemes. What she is most passionate about when it comes to gardening are the positive effects it has on our mental health to grow and care for plants, as well as being great for the environment too and help provide food and shelter for wildlife.