By Rebecca Knight published
Making the most of an awkward side garden can be challenging. It can easily turn into a forgotten concrete thoroughfare running between the house and the main garden.
However, Jess and Josh Blyth-Mallet have given the unloved space a lovely cottage garden makeover full of clever side garden ideas. The couple documented the transformation on their Instagram account @ourtaylormadehome as part of a total garden makeover.
When the pair first moved into their new home they were met with a dismal sight in the garden. 'It had turned out that the owner of the house had decided not to mow the lawn after we had our offer accepted on the property,' explains Jess.
'What had turned from a tired and slightly disheveled garden, was now a complete jungle.'
The garden had been a big selling point for Jess who spent months leading up to the move researching small garden ideas on Pinterest. Jess knew she wanted to include lots of flowers and plants so decided to fill the new garden with lots of cottage garden-inspired ideas.
However, before any planting could commence the garden needed to be cleared. The grass was cut back, a buddleia whose roots were growing into a drain was taken out and a couple of trees were cut and trimmed to let more light into the space.
Once the couple had their blank canvas to work with they started planning their landscaping ideas. 'I knew that I wanted to have a circular lawn – this way, we could frame the garden and there would be a flow from the cottage garden area to the rear,' explains Jess.
The pair created a circular lawn with space for borders around the edge, including a lavender pathway that would lead from the patio area to the lawn.
'I have always loved lavender and I thought it would be really lovely for the lavender to brush your legs as you walked onto the lawn to release the beautiful smell,' says Jess.
All the planting and patio laying was done by Jess, Josh, and their secret weapon Jess' mum. As a housewarming present, Jess' Mum brought a mountain of plants for the couple to fill the garden with.
'It was a massive surprise and help,' says Jess. 'She went to her local garden center and bought a ridiculous number of plants all in the sale.'
'What should have cost £1,200, my mum managed to spend £400 on plants that nearly kitted out the entire garden.'
Once the main garden was completed Jess and Josh turned their attention to the side of the house. 'The space had become the dumping ground with all the rubbish from the garden and the housework we had done.'
The area was naturally quite shady, so Jess decided to make the most of this turning it into a separate shady seating area. To connect it to the rest of the garden and give it a bit of life she decided to add a raised timber planter.
The couple created a BBQ area to disguise a manhole in the same Cotswold stone they had used in the main garden. To further tie in the side space with the rest of the garden they also painted the fence in the same Cuprinol paint in Natural Stone (£32 at B&Q) used on the main fence panels.
Once the raised planter had been built, Jess and her Mum filled it with shrubs and plants from the local garden center. Thanks to the pair's savvy shopping skills they managed to pick many of them up in the sale for as little as £1.
'It has taken us over three years to get the garden to how I initially planned it. The work took blood, sweat, tears, many bank holiday weekends of hard graft and even a hospital trip! But I would 100% do it again,' says Jess.
'There are still things I want us to do with our little garden, such as changing the slabs for the patio and main pathway. But I am excited to be able to enjoy the space now and start to have friends over in a garden that I can relax in.'
Overall Jess and Josh spent approximately £3,000 creating their dream cottage garden ideas.
To help stretch your budget Jess recommends reusing what you can. 'Paint things such as furniture to give them a new lease of life for a fraction of the cost of buying new. And hit up garden centres just before a heatwave to get some incredible deals on plants!'
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.
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