A clever string layout trick was key to the success of this striking Mediterranean garden transformation

Designing a garden from scratch as a novice is a challenge, but a string layout trick ensured this garden makeover looks anything but amateur

raised planters in new build garden
(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

A couple transformed their basic new-build lawn into a contemporary Mediterranean garden using a clever string layout trick.

Designing a garden as a beginner is no easy task. Charlie Porteous took on the challenge using clever garden design ideas to turn her new-build home's lawn into a luxury garden set-up. 

‘New-builds houses are notorious for their poor soil and drainage, and our garden was no different,’ explains Charlie. ‘Here in Harrogate, UK, we get a fair bit of rain and we noticed that the garden was getting very waterlogged, so we needed to create a design that took this into consideration. This meant thinking outside the box and looking at ways we could create good drainage and alternatives to ground level planting.’ 

new build lawn

Charlie's garden before 

(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

After scouring Pinterest and Instagram for ideas, Charlie settled on Mediterranean garden ideas with a hint of English cottage. ‘Our last holiday was to Italy in 2019 and we loved the idea of olive trees, lavender and jasmine!’

‘I got out my sketchbook and started to play around with the layout. I wanted a large part of the garden to have gravel to give it that Mediterranean vibe and help with drainage,’ she explains.

‘We kept a square of grass and then framed it with the raised sleeper beds to add interest. Having raised planting also meant we could control the soil and drainage - and keep our miniature schnauzer, Fergus, off the plants!’

lawn mapped out with string

Mapping the garden out with string

(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

To plan out the raised bedding and include some decking ideas into her design, Charlie used a smart string trick. If you're looking for help with how to plan your garden design the stake and string method is perfect for measuring and mapping out a proposed layout before getting to work. 

Once the garden was planned out, the pair set to work, ripping up the turf and laying down gravel, while Charlie documented the transformation on her Instagram account @athomewithcharliee.

raised decking with lawn

The end result

(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

‘It was just the two of us with a pair of wheelbarrows so it took a long time to move the 5+ tonnes of gravel,’ she says.

They then turned their attention to the decking and planters. The planters were made out of a mix of breezeblocks and wood, which the pair then filled with plants from nurseries and garden cuttings from Charlie's Mum. ‘My mum has an amazing garden so she donated a few trees and plants and is regularly doing cuttings for us.’

raised planters next to lawn

(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

‘Now the garden is an extension of the house and it is a great space to entertain or just chill out after a stressful day. The garden was a key selling point when we viewed the house so I'm really proud of what we've managed to achieve.’

raised planters in Mediterranean garden

(Image credit: @homewithcharliee / Charlie Porteous)

The overall transformation cost £5,309, with the landscaping materials taking up the largest part of the budget. However, it is filled with cheap garden ideas, such as planting from cuttings.

This garden just goes to show a spot of DIY and a little pre-planning can reap incredible results.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

As the News Editor on Gardeningetc, Rebecca covers everything from the common mistake your making when pruning your roses, to handy tips about how to keep your houseplants alive. She has been covering all things gardening for two years across Homes & Gardens and Ideal Home. There isn't a single gardening trend that passes without her knowing about it. 


She's currently the proud owner of a thriving container garden on her small city balcony and a jungle of houseplants. Small gardens and container plants are her specialties.