Not everyone has the vision to be able to look at an unloved part of their garden and see how it could be transformed, and nor do we all have the skills to carry out the work ourselves, but for those that do, the results can be incredibly rewarding.
This was the case for Nikki Shepherd and Alex, who after moving house knew almost immediately that the back corner of their garden could be turned into something special.
There was nothing wrong with the area in question, with its timber fence panels and border planting – and it was a good spot for the trampoline, but Nikki had bolder plans to indulge one of her garden design ideas which she shared on her Instagram account @42_stories_ (opens in new tab).
‘We first came up with the concept not long after we moved into the house,’ she says. ‘We started spending time in the garden and realized that this particular corner is a sun trap in the afternoon and early evening. It’s at quite an awkward angle, though, so we knew we needed to build something bespoke to make the best possible use of the space.’
The couple began to research ideas and slowly started to form a design of a seating area and patio area. They knew they wanted to incorporate bench seating with planters, so it was all about seeing how they could best make the two fit together.
‘I looked for ideas on Instagram,’ says Nikki, ‘although initially our design was quite different – it developed over time as we started work on it.’
For more inspiration take a look at our patio ideas.
As a structural engineer, Alex was well equipped to not only create a workable design but also carry out the actual build himself. With the finished design in place, the first step was to lay the necessary concrete base foundations and build the block-work walls.
'Alex made sure that the planters had enough stability to retain the soil, as well as forming the back of the seating and, most importantly, staying upright,’ says Nikki.
There were a few parts that the couple needed help with, and they turned to YouTube and Instagram to watch videos that taught them new skills, such as rendering and how to lay porcelain tiles outside. ‘It took us five months to complete the project, from start to finish,’ says Nikki, ‘but we only worked on it at weekends around our full-time jobs – and we had a lot of weekends off in between, too!’
The finished area is a true testament to the couple’s hard work, patience, and creative vision. Concrete planters house lush, leafy plants while providing modern Ibiza-style white walls.
If you've been tempted to follow the couple's lead and build your own planter-garden seating ideas take a look at our container gardening ideas for planting inspiration.
Timber bench seating makes a great spot to enjoy the sunshine with a glass of wine at the end of the day, while a large group of monochrome cushions and one of the best outdoor rugs ramp up the comfort factor. Finally, the fence panels behind have been painted in a neutral shade to complement the design, while some outdoor lighting ideas add ambience come nightfall.
‘Even though there’s still some finishing touches to add, we’re absolutely delighted with the end result and love that we have something totally unique in our garden, says Nikki. ‘It’s been a welcome little retreat from the chaos of a house extension and full renovation during lockdown.’
The total spend was in the region of £1,500 (approx $2,100), including all materials, plants, paint, sub base and the porcelain tiles. The couple saved a huge amount of money by doing everything themselves, and although it was a huge investment of their time, we think you’ll agree it was very much worth it.
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