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10 expert do's and don'ts for giving your garden a makeover

Make the most of your outdoor space this month with our expert tips and essential know-how.

As summer continues and many of us get a chance to enjoy the garden, you might be thinking about giving it a bit of a makeover to get the most out of your green space. But it can be tough knowing where to save money by doing things yourself, and where you need to get an expert in to take a look. Here are 10 expert garden makeover ideas that are easy, simple and affordable.

10 GARDEN MAKEOVER IDEAS

Charity fundraising website Savoo has teamed up with several landscaping and gardening experts to offer 10 dos and don’ts when it comes to revamping your garden.

1. USE HANGING BASKETS AND POTS

'Baskets and pots can brighten up any outdoor space, and you don’t need expert gardening skills to plant them,' says Ellen Wright, at myjobquote.co.uk. There’s an array of hanging baskets and pot types for all budgets; you can even choose most flowers and plants depending on your personal preference.

Self-contained planting spots like baskets and pots aren’t just cost-effective and easy – they’re also quite compact, meaning smaller gardens can benefit from them as well.

garden makeover ideas

(Image credit: Claire Richardson)

See:Small garden ideas – maximise a compact gardening space

2. GET WEEDING

If you have weeds in your flower beds or lawn, grabbing hold of weed puller and weeding yourself is simple and effective. Weed pullers come with a long handle, so you won’t even need to kneel down; you can weed with ease standing up. Weed pulling doesn’t cost a thing, but it can revitalise your garden quickly and easily – and only requires one simple tool.

garden makeover ideas

(Image credit: Sadie May Stowell Landscape Design)

3. PAINT FENCES AND SHEDS

If your fences or shed are looking shabby and unloved, giving them a new lick of paint can brighten up the garden. There are a lot of wood paints and stains available in a variety of different colours depending on your taste. It’s recommended to use a wood protective paint to ensure any fences or sheds are protected from the elements and prevented from rotting.

You don’t need to rebuild an entire shed to get more mileage out of an old one: save money on construction work by buying a simple paint instead. What’s more, you can do that yourself without hiring an expert.

easy garden ideas

4. INVEST IN THE RIGHT TOOLS

Using the right tools for the job will save you time and money. Always use sharpened tools in good condition and, if you are planning to cut wood by hand, buy a brand-new handsaw. You will find it much easier to cut with a new saw.

'If you need specialist tools, hire them. Mixing mortar and concrete by hand is time-consuming and extremely hard work. You can easily hire a cement mixer for a few days at a very low cost. For long runs of fencing, consider hiring a nail gun,' explains Julie Kilpatrick, author of The Plant Listener.

Remember that it’s not just time that buying the right tools can save – if your tools are of low quality, they might not be able to get the job done and could even break, meaning you’ll need to buy new ones. By paying for good quality tools in the first place, you can save more money overall and keep to the same tools for years to come.

gardening for exercise

See:How to transform your garden space with these simple Scandinavian design ideas

5. DON'T EXPECT INSTANT RESULTS

'It can be very tempting to go to the local garden centre and buy the larger, more mature, plants so you get an instant effect. Young plants are cheaper and grow reasonably fast with the right care.

'They also adapt far quicker to the environmental conditions specific to your garden. Mature plants look great in the short-term but they might take so long to settle that younger plants will catch up and may even overtake them,' says Julie Kilpatrick.

Instead of buying plants that will immediately achieve your desired look, invest in smaller, younger plants to save money – and which with a little bit of support can grow to the same size quickly.

6. USE GRAVEL – AND REUSE OLD MATERIALS

Gravel and good quality weed membrane can make a very usable and relatively cheap path or patio. You don’t need to have a hardcore base for lightly used areas. Just make sure the soil is compacted and reasonably level.

'If you have old bits of slab and bricks, upcycle them into a simple path or small area for a bistro table and chairs. Bed them firmly into soil, checking their level with each other and you’re ready to go,' explains garden designer, Christine Barve.

Not every surfaced area has to be done professionally, and you don’t even need to splash out for expensive materials. With some leftover bricks, a bit of gravel, and some weed membrane you’re able to get nearly the same quality for a fraction of the cost.

See:How to turn a small garden into a self-sufficient space

7. LAY OUT THE GARDEN

Seeding or turfing your lawn is easy to do yourself and far more cost-effective than paying someone to come in and seed or lay turf for you.

'You can easily dig and plant your own flower beds. Mulching them is an easy and cost-effective way to retain moisture in the soil and keep beds neat and tidy,' says Hayley Hill, at Lawn Mowers Direct.

If your idea of a nice garden involves lawn and flower beds, you can achieve a great deal of your desired appearance without major or expensive reworks, provided you’re prepared to put in a bit of effort yourself.

garden makeover ideas

(Image credit: Helen Cathcart)

8. CUT TREES AND SHRUBS

Not all efforts to tend your garden should be done yourself – some are best in the hands of professionals:

'If you have large trees and shrubs that need cutting with power tools, this is best left to the experts,' explains Ellen Wright. 'Some power tools can be dangerous if you’re unsure how to handle them and don’t have the correct safety equipment. Also, specific trees and shrubs need to be cut in certain ways, as it may affect the way they regrow, so it’s always a good idea to consult a specialist.'

garden makeover ideas

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

9. PERFECT THE LAWN

Bear in mind though, in cases where lawns have problems, it’s often better off with experts. Remember that paying for a good service upfront can save you money on tools, medicine, and seeds in the long run.

'If your lawn has specific issues, like brown patches, mushroom and moss growth, uneven, or bald spot, it’s best to get an expert opinion,' says Ellen. 'Lawn treatments are usually made of hazardous chemicals that can be fatal if mishandled. It can also be confusing and difficult choosing the correct procedure for the job, so it’s undoubtedly worth passing this over to the professionals.'

garden makeover ideas

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Want more garden makeover ideas? See:Seven easy garden ideas to brighten your outdoor space

10. DON'T BE AFRAID TO NEGOTIATE

You don’t always have to spend a fortune to get a good job out of specialists, don’t forget you can also negotiate. Many prices aren’t fixed and it’s possible you can get a better deal if you ask.

The same applies to materials for your garden: If you have to buy new materials, the best place to buy them is at a builder’s merchants rather than a DIY store. Most builder’s merchants will negotiate with you on price. Get a written quote from one builder’s merchant and show it to another. Nine times out of ten, they will want to beat their competitor’s price.

Whatever your hopes for your garden, remember to think long-term to get the best savings – whether that means negotiating and buying more affordable materials, investing in good-quality tools, or reusing items you have lying around.