Couple quoted £16k to transform ‘ugly’ garden do it themselves and save £7k


A couple quoted £16,000 to transform their “barren and ugly’ garden saved a whopping £7,000 by doing most of the project themselves.

Elizabeth Astin, 56, and her husband, sourced materials, furniture and bargain decorations from the likes of Amazon, B&M and The Range instead of paying professionals to do the legwork.

The couple, from Birmingham, sourced wooden sleepers for their builder saving them £7,000.

Their nephew fitted the electrics and they built a relaxing zen area using leftover supplies.

Elizabeth sourced bargain decorations and furniture from Amazon, B&M and The Range.

She told money-saving community “We moved into our house as a new building 19 years ago.

“When we bought it, the agent told us that there was no back garden. What they meant was that there was a lower patio area with a huge retaining wall and a sloping upper area that was north facing.

“Not very attractive at all.

“Still, it stood us in good stead over the years. Our girls had water fights, we bought numerous bouncy castles, water slides and paddling pools and my husband and his dad made a decking for the adults to chill.

“We always wanted to improve it but it was for the kids. While they were young, it was more important for them to have a safe place to play.

“Now they are grown up, we wanted to finally tackle the garden and improve it. The first step was planning.

“It was difficult with the garden being on a slope. We realised we needed at least two levels or terraced areas to be able to have somewhere to entertain and relax.”

The back garden gets sun at the top of the garden all day long, she said, so the couple worked around it to make sure they “maximised the sunshine”.

She added: “Before starting on the makeover, I had spent a lot of time browsing the Facebook group ‘DIY on a budget gardens’.

“I learned a great deal and got lots of inspiration from group members. We were always mindful to try and keep costs down without compromising on quality and our dreams.

“We saved up for all of this including replacing the iron railings with a lovely glass fence.

“It was a big project. The existing decking was built by my husband and father in law when we moved in two decades ago. This had to be pulled down and the areas levelled.

“We had a beautiful clematis that sadly had to be pulled down too and that was done by my husband – it took him two days to do it. It was a complete makeover. We also had to pull down and replace an ugly iron fence on top of the large retaining wall.”

The couple paid a builder to do the landscaping, build the patios and replace concrete slabs with Indian stone, which took up the main budget.

Elizabeth said: “We had to get someone in to build the glass and steel fence as well as do parts of the project ourselves due to the nature of the makeover and the retaining wall. We had to ensure the wall could hold the new patio areas so we needed professional help.

“The building work was £9k but we saved money by having the electrics fitted by our nephew who is an electrician. Also, we managed to reduce the price by using wooden railway sleepers rather than building retaining walls.

“The builder provided all the materials. We had an original quote for £16k from another builder so by having the sleepers we saved approximately £7k.

“The glass fence was £3,200 and once that was installed, my husband used the leftover Indian stone and sleepers from the builder to create a little zen area. He built a bench and a space to put a relaxing water feature on.

“We also reused the old gray slabs from the original patio and laid them in the front garden, to build a little seating area. Part of this area included tub chairs we already had from Aldi, which we had bought the year before for £50.

“I bought furnishings such as cushions and decorations from Amazon and B&M. I probably spent around £100 on these, again trying to source the best value for money.

“The day bed was from The Range. I searched for the best price and got it for around £400. The same bed on other websites were between £600 and £800 so I basically got it half price.

“I also wanted to arrange the plants to suit the new makeover. Most of them were already there before – I just replanted them. We did, however, buy a few more from a local garden center. They were very cheap – probably no more than £50 for all of them.

“Now the project is finally done, it’s our safe haven. We managed to save thousands by combining professional work with DIY and my husband created an amazing little zen area that was previously barren. The garden is a sanctuary for us to relax in now.

“The only thing which didn’t go to plan was the installation of the furniture, as it took a while for it to arrive. If we had to do this project again we would order it well in advance as we only received the dining set this week. It’s now in the garage waiting for next year!’

Tom Church, Co-Founder of said: “Elizabeth and her husband have managed to create a stunning garden that no doubt increases the value of their property, after waiting nearly two decades to complete the makeover.

“With difficult areas, sometimes getting a professional in is best – but as Elizabeth has proven, sourcing budget supplies and doing parts of the overall makeover yourself can save you thousands of pounds. I hope this garden lasts them many years to come.”