My Home – Planning The Last Phase of the Garden

This is going to be the year of the garden. I’ve decided it’s high time it was finished. We’ve been chipping away at the hard landscaping for three summers now and what with one thing (hell, we bought and renovated a cottage in the meantime), and another (the house needed decorating too, damn it!) it’s taken longer than anticipated. But my patience is now wearing thin. Another winter with the dog traipsing in mud every time he spends a penny, has convinced me to bring in the professionals. But being the control freak that I am, I can’t leave the design up to anyone else. I may not be a garden designer but I know from bitter experience that if you don’t sweat the small stuff you won’t be happy with the results. So for the past few days I’ve been teaching myself garden design with a nifty online tool.

Wanna See?

Before I reveal the master plan, I’d better explain where we’re at. For reasons of convenience we’ve started at both ends, leaving the middle pretty much untouched. And that’s the bit that we now need to tackle. I’m too ashamed to even show you a photograph of our sorry looking lawn. I did show some of it last summer when I shared ‘my garden style‘, but I have to confess, that lawn was a tad retouched. Correction. It was heavily retouched.

My Garden Last Summer

My garden last summer

Phase 1

Phase one was what we now call the dining deck. It’s behind the garage and originally we were going to build a large kennel there for the dog. That was before we met our dog and found out that he ain’t no kennel dog! So now it’s where we have the barbecue, table and two benches. It’s very sunny and quite secluded so it works pretty well when there’s no more than four people and we’re not experiencing a heatwave. When there’s a crowd the table has to move to the centre of the garden, as above. Same when it’s a heatwave because there’s not the room for a big enough parasol on the deck and it would be so close to the barbecue it might actually catch fire.

My Garden Last Summer - The 'dining deck' as seen from the pergola

The ‘Dining Deck’ as seen from ‘The Pergola

Phase 2

Phase two was the building of the pergola, which actually took two summers as we stopped to renovate the cottage. We desperately needed some shade in the garden which previously had none. Have you ever tried to get eight people under a normal sized parasol? The garden was just lawn, fence, and a tiny bit of paving when we moved in, so a fairly large structure was needed not just for shade, but for something other than fence to look at.

My garden last summer and the newly finished pergola

The newly finished pergola in 2016

Phase 3

Phase three I snuck in at the end of last summer and involved enlarging the patio immediately outside the house. The builders had left us with a postage-stamp-sized patio that wasn’t big enough for anything. The outside tap which is on the outside wall of the house was over a small patch of turf and as you can imagine that turned to mud very quickly. And the patio chairs took up the remainder of the space. I need room for pots! With no flower beds we desperately needed some green growing things.

My Garden Plans for 2018

The bigger picture showing what’s existing and what’s needed.

Phase 4

Well, phase four hasn’t happened yet. Yet.  And I don’t necessarily advise tackling a garden in this way. In fact I don’t. We’re now left with a lot of compromises. We don’t want to undo anything that’s already been done so we just have to work with the space that’s left.


1) Raised beds for plants. Green things just don’t do that well in containers and the soil we have is poor to non-existent. I’m looking at a lot of very sorry looking specimens out of the window and I know that it could look so much better. I imagined that the pergola would be rampant with climbers by now but it’s just not the case. I know the existing ones will look better by the height of the summer but I want them to look good all year round. The BF even bought a grapevine which was probably our biggest disaster to date. I also like the look of raised beds if I’m honest.

2) An artificial lawn. Fellow dog owners will know that dogs and lawns do not go together, but I can’t imagine having a garden that consists only of hard paving. I need to see green even if it’s not real. Getting it to look good is one of our next challenges.

3) Some more paving to bring all these elements together. And here’s the crux. Our garden is not big enough for lots of sinuous curves and hidden surprises. So it’s going to be a more formal garden. Luckily I rather like symmetry. But there’s a garage door to consider so it’s not going to be 100% symmetrical unfortunately.

I still have to make decisions about what kind of raised beds? How high? What will the lawn be edged with? Actually I’m thinking red brick for that – like the house and garage. How much is it going to cost to fill those beds with lovely plants? What happens (eeek) when the professionals question all my decisions? My measurements? My expectations?

My garden plans for 2018 showing raised beds, lawn and paving

This is the bit that needs attention in isolation.

So now I’m bracing myself for the raised eyebrows when I show this to a garden landscaper. And then I’ll show him the cardboard templates for the raised beds. They might get a few laughs. And it may get tweaked a few times before the final plan but I’m pretty happy with it.


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  1. Reply

    Chris Rimmer

    July 26, 2022

    Hi Carole. How did you attach the roof to the pergola? I want to do something similar with ours but I am worried it will blow off in the wind. How is yours fixed please?
    Thanks, Chris

    • Reply


      July 29, 2022

      Hi Chris, it was attached to a wooden frame first and then the frame was screwed to the pergola.

  2. Reply

    Keira @ Dekko Bird

    March 12, 2018

    Hi Carole, this looks beautiful, what a gorgeous space to relax when the sun comes out. Would you mind telling me where your table and benches are from, please? love them

    • Reply


      March 12, 2018

      Thanks so much Keira. The furniture is all from Ikea. 🙂

  3. Reply


    March 1, 2018

    Brilliant ideas, I know what you mean about mud and dogs. I love your pergoda. Brilliant shady area. We need that as our garden is pretty much south facing

    • Reply


      March 1, 2018

      We love it. It’s a great place to sit with a glass of wine at the end of the day. 🙂

  4. Reply


    March 1, 2018

    OOh – such a good post. I paved my whole garden cos of my pooch. But I do miss grass.

    I can’t wait to finish mine off too. Will lookout for ideas from your blog.

    • Reply


      March 1, 2018

      Thanks Maxine. Yours looks great! Paving is low maintenance at the end of the day. 🙂

  5. Reply

    Kate Baxter

    March 1, 2018

    Wow, what a wonderful sized garden space you have Carole! Really look forward to seeing how things progress, your decking area is already gorgeous so I imagine the rest with be similarly lush and a beautiful sight to gaze upon from both the house and deck! Hope I get an invite to that summer party.. hint hint xxx

    • Reply


      March 1, 2018

      You have it. I’m hoping it will be lush. If I can ever get anything to grow that is. xx

  6. Reply

    Stacey Sheppard

    March 1, 2018

    Looks great Carole. I bet you can’t wait to finally get it finished. I think we’ll be in the same boat with our garden. It will take us a good few years to turn it into something we’re happy with. Good luck with the next phase.

    • Reply


      March 1, 2018

      Thanks Stacey. Now to find a contractor. Not having much luck so far 🙁

  7. Reply

    Susan Earlam

    February 28, 2018

    I’m totally going to start using this Phase system when I’m planning our garden, It seems like such a big job that breaking it down will make it feel more manageable

    • Reply


      March 1, 2018

      It has made it easier to still use the garden at the same time I must admit 🙂

  8. Reply


    February 28, 2018

    Great plan I need to think of something for myself too 🙂

    • Reply


      February 28, 2018

      Glad you think so Marry 🙂


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