If there’s one thing we’ve all learned over the past year and a half, through all of the restrictions local and national governments have been forced to put into place, it’s that there is no greater luxury than having a beautiful garden all to yourself, in which you, your friends and your loved ones can relax.
Creating an attractive and thoughtfully-designed outdoor space does more than just add value to your property. It provides you with a sanctuary; a welcoming space you can escape to when the world gets a little crazy. It extends the liveable space of your home into nature; brightening your day-to-day with all of the benefits of the outdoors: natural sunlight, birdsong, the smell of fresh air, summer breezes, the soporific patter of falling rain.
Gardens, like homes, require makeovers from time to time – whether it’s in preparation for a summer of barbeques and parties, or as a project to inject some natural beauty into the darker months.
And if you’re looking for DIY renovation inspiration, well… look no further!
Michael, a customer of ours from County Kildare, recently carried out an extensive, yet relatively inexpensive renovation of his garden. He wanted to create an outdoor space where his family could relax and enjoy some much-needed time outside during the madness of various lockdowns. And now, as restrictions in Ireland begin to ease, and the world moves back toward normality, we wonder: has there ever been a better time to create the perfect garden space – a place for gatherings and parties with friends and family?
Here we shall take a look at some inspiring before and after pictures of Michael’s garden, breaking down the materials which Michael used, and examining how he was able to keep his costs so low.
Whether you’ve recently moved into a new home, only to find the garden a mess; or modern life has simply got in the way of garden maintenance, it’s easy to find ourselves looking out of our backroom windows at gardens like Michael’s.
Michael and his family are lucky enough to have a nice-sized back garden, but pre-renovation the space simply lacked any energy: grey walls, grey concrete, and a weed-strewn lawn. There was hardly any colour or life, which might feel inviting and encourage the family to spend time outside. Abandoned and left to overgrow, the space soon became nigh on unusable.
But Michael had a plan: to renovate.
Tile Merchant’s customer Michael was inspired to take on this project for two main reasons. Firstly, he knew that a well-maintained, attractively-designed and practical outdoor space can greatly increase the current and long-term value of your property. Secondly, and most importantly, he knew of the positive effects that such a garden can have, not just on physical health, but on mental health, too.
These effects have been well-documented, and it has been proven that spending time in nature – even just viewing a nice green space from indoors – can greatly improve your mood. Moreover, relaxing in a peaceful, aesthetically-pleasing garden helps to reduce stress, and enhances one’s overall wellbeing.
See below a few pictures of Micheal’s garden.
What’s more, Michael knew that renovating his garden wasn’t something which had to break the bank. Whilst many people worry about the cost of a project this size, money doesn’t have to be an issue. With a little help from DIY tutorials online (such as ours here, on how to install composite decking), Michael carried out the entire garden renovation on his own, keeping his costs down to just the materials he required.
If you’re also looking to renovate your garden, here are a few top tips:
1. The best time of year to begin your backyard makeover runs from late spring to early autumn – the dry(er) months, in other words! (However, depending on what you’re doing, you could extend this into the winter.)
2. Many homeowners tend to opt for a springtime renovation so as to have their project ready for summer.
3. You can dramatically decrease the overall cost of a garden renovation by carrying out the work yourself; only spending your money on the materials you need. Consult with us here at Tile Merchant and – from patios, decking, and artificial grass to plants and even trees – we can make sure that you equip yourself with all of the materials you need, in order to create a beautiful and practical garden which is both inviting and homely.
If Michael hadn’t sent us these photos himself, we’d hardly have believed that this was the same garden as before. With a little ingenuity, some careful planning, and an eye for aesthetic, he has managed to completely and utterly transform his backyard.
No more grey walls, overgrown grass and unsightly weeds, with nowhere to sit and nothing to do. Now, Michael’s back garden is truly stunning, with a clean, modern, Mediterranean feel. It has been white washed, so as to stay bright and welcoming year round, with the addition of low-maintenance artificial grass, a water feature, plenty of plush comfy seating, feature plants to add a touch of elegance, a shed for storage and recreation, and even a barbeque area so that Michael can cook up a storm for guests whenever the occasion arises.
Alongside a host of other top-notch Irish manufacturers and suppliers, we at Tile Merchant are proud to have provided Michael the base materials he required to carry out his renovation, and you can bet we’re over the moon to see the results.
Let’s take a look at the products Michael used in the renovation of his new garden.
Tile Merchant supplied Michael with Eternal Grey porcelain slabs: the stand-out feature in his renovation, framing the entire garden and chosen to bring the bright, rustic warmth of Grecian architecture to his home. These outdoor paving slabs, which come in a wide range of colours and textures, are the perfect choice against the stark green of the grass and rich blue-greys of his shed and raised beds.
Our 20mm outdoor porcelain tiles are not only attractive, they’re also easy to maintain and just as easy to install – we even wrote a blog piece designed to walk you through the process!
In addition to our porcelain tiles, we at Tile Merchant specialise in sourcing and selling the very highest quality natural stone paving slabs, of which we have a widely varied selection (in colour, texture, material and size).
The other main feature of Michael’s garden is quite obviously the grass, which he has laid in an eye-catching square of lawn in the very centre of the yard – creating for himself and his family the ideal spot to sunbathe, host guests, kick a ball about, or even set up a home putting green!
Of course, what’s key about this grass is that it’s artificial. Michael decided to do away completely with the need to frequently and laboriously maintain the health and height of his garden’s grass (which, you can see from the before pictures, had become a problem). In its stead is a zero-maintenance alternative (which you might know as AstroTurf), which not only looks like real grass, but feels like it too. You’ll be happy to learn that it’s also pet friendly, hard-wearing, and affordable.
Artificial grass laying is not difficult, but is made even easier with our friendly customer service and helpful online advice.
With the combination of Powerscourt grass and porcelain tiles from Tile Merchant, Michael had the aesthetic foundations of his renovation laid.
One of the first thing’s you’ll likely notice between the before and after photos of Michael’s garden is the sudden change to the height of the walls. Michael really transformed not only the shape and feel, but the levels of privacy he and his family could enjoy in his garden when he installed Glanboard wooden fencing atop the white-washed walls.
The gentle, muted grey garden fence panels work perfectly here, bringing the Eternal Grey porcelain tiles into harmony with those blue-grey raised beds and shed roof.
Michael sourced his fencing from Abwood, in County Wicklow, who supply all manner of fences for gardens, as well as sheds, trellising, gazebos and more.
Disguised by a lick of paint, the gorgeous raised flower beds, seating areas, and even the barbeque set-up were created with 280 blocks of precast concrete from Painstown Precast, located near Kilcock in County Kildare.
No modern renovation would be complete without subtle, integrated mood lighting. As such, Michael was sure to source the perfect lighting to ensure that, come nightfall, he could continue to get the most out of his garden. Have a look at the pictures and you’ll be hard pressed to spot the bulbs, lamps, and LEDs. This is because Michael chose to integrate the lighting into the design of the garden, ensuring it was kept as minimalist and attractive as possible. Solar powered lighting – ever more available and reliable – is a great way of concealing lighting, since there’s no need for ugly and obtrusive wiring, getting in the way of your renovation’s aesthetic.
The water feature and fence outdoor solar garden lights were sourced from Amazon (the only non-local supplier on this list!)
The BBQ area’s solar power lights were sourced from Dunnes Stores.
The underseat strip lighting, and all of the required wiring and connection boxes were purchased from Leixlip Electrical Wholesale, in Leixlip, County Kildare.
Blink and you might miss it, but take another look and you’ll see that Michael has installed a sleek, attractive water feature on the wall between his four neat trees. In a garden which might as well sit nestled among the islands of the Mediterranean, what better way to enjoy the outdoors than with the calming sound of trickling water as a backdrop to your relaxation?
The outdoor wall fountain was sourced from Moyvalley Garden Centre, and the plants and shrubs were purchased from Rentes Plants/Nursery, also in Moyvalley (you can visit their Facebook page, here).
Doubtlessly one of the most transformative aspects of Michael’s renovation was the inclusion of the impressive steel shed: set at one end of the garden and yet, thanks to the clever use of Tile Merchant tiles and grass, doesn’t feel like it takes up too much space at all.
The inclusion of a good quality shed in a garden not only gives you and your family space to be creative – to tackle those lifelong hobby prospects and projects – but also provides some much-needed extra storage space. On top of this, it won’t hurt when it comes to property value estimations, either.
Michael’s steel garden shed was procured from Clane Sheds, based in Clane, County Kildare.
Make sure to remember the little things like sourcing additional timber and high quality, weather-resistant paints, and your garden renovation is sure to stand a notch above the rest.
Michael sourced his timber from Mulligan Saw Mills in Kilcock, County Kildare; his paints from Woodies DIY, B&Q, and Cleary’s Hardware in Kilcock; and finally his barbeque and additional tiling from B&Q.
Check out the photos of the dramatic, surprising and creative garden transformations and let them fuel ideas for your own space.
Blog by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. They run the storytelling podcast “Stories from the Hearth”, and live in a wee Glasgow flat with their partner and cat.