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Updated: Nov 22, 2020

“OMG look! There are two peonies growing through the sleepers”

To say this garden had not seen a pair of shears or a lawnmower in a while was an understatement. With a complete garden transformation in the late 90s when a pond and swimming pool were added, nothing had been done since, so you can imagine the sight that greeted us in August 2019 when we came to view (our soon to be) new home.

Moving day came and standing in the Autumn sun we surveyed the damage. The trees had overtaken and the weeds were blossoming into shrubs. The previous owner had planted an array of weird and wonderful evergreens, bulbs and perennials.

The problem was evident, the garden, patio and courtyard had all become too much to maintain; each shrub had intertwined with its neighbour. The pond needed TLC, a new filter and replacement timber, along with the pool and its toxic-looking green water and crumbling tiles.

This looked to be a six-month job costing about £3k in labour and materials to bring it back to life.

With this realization, we looked forward to the day when we could separate each plant from its neighbour, but decided that the house needed our attention first.

We would tackle the garden in 2021...

Or so we then March came along with a government mandate to stay at home. With our holiday cancelled and time on our hands (our internal renovations required trades in the house), the six-month job we had put on the back burner was very much a frontrunner. The week before lockdown we made a list of the jobs we could tackle ourselves, ordered up the materials to stash in the garage, and YouTubed a lot! We tried to look upon this enforced time at home as a blessing and a time to really make a dent in the garden.

Clearing the space

We removed all the unwanted picket fence as this fence separated the garden from the pool area with over 18 meters of fencing to dismantle clear and store. This was all listed on the local Facebook group and collected once lockdown was eased...blimey we could actually make a profit I thought rather naively.

The remaining fence was sanded and painted all 10 meters of it! For a month I sanded and painted with the help of the kids. Just in time for the everlasting sweetpeas to climb and spread their colour. The high point of removing the fencing has been the exposure of the original retaining wall. The wall is on a step that gently creeps around the pool, rich in colour and texture a real hero of the pool area. Getting the pool into working order was a job for YouTube with support from Amazon. We found the necessary treatments, fired up the old filter system and the difference was incredible. This is how we roll now!

The poolside crazy paving had not seen a jet washer in years, but with this paving being old we were cautious not to blast away the loose grout so we used the non-chemical wet and forget recommended to us by our neighbour. You treat the stone with one spray the stone absorbs the liquid treatment and watch it gradually change colour it's honestly the easiest thing we have done. The paving has revived to its former glory, with the rain washing away the unwanted residue.

The vibe for the pool area was 1950 San Tropez but with a country Surrey twist... I know what a hot mess!

Garden Zoning

I would take the simple glamour of the 1950s, with all the luxe touches, cushions, rugs and a sheepskin throw, all tucked up with terracotta pots and hydrangeas. Zoning off the space from one another was another big consideration and made the most sense for busy family life.

The Kettler storage bench is perfect for storing all the garden cushions, also fantastic for wet bottoms after an afternoon in the swimming pool. This version is a great addition if you are limited for space and storage, dressed with a throw and a few gardens scatter cushions. It is a practical stylish solution, we've had our bench for 3 years and I'm loathed to retire it anytime soon.

Sun loungers - why are they all so expensive and start at the £400 mark??? 48 hours of googling threw up limited options at our £100 mark, the standard plastic lounger was an option I'd rather go without. Then one last snoop through and the white full reclining sunbeds were featured by la Redoute for £120 each. However, since we ordered these in March they have now been removed from the website, so I would see these as a good alternative. (see link above)

Patio furniture - in my head by the grand age of 41, I was expecting to have a garden full of sofas and chaise longue, but for the past 6 years every time, the cost has put us off taking the leap (with your average garden sofa set starting in the £2k region). Until recently chatting with Lisa Dawson about our inability to store garden furniture for the winter and she recommended the jysk 5 piece lounge set. A couple of clicks and set added to basket at £600 and shipped within 3 weeks.

Dining table for all the family, we are a family of 4 however at the weekends we extend to 10 -12 when family come over for BBQs and garden craziness. The problem we have is our decking area is quite small and to have a 12 seater table would be costly and limit our space. So we opted to buy the Hartington set at £495, we currently have the same set that we purchased last year, but due to the house renovations, we are using it as a kitchen table. The plan is to bring the table out to the decking from the kitchen when we host our friends and family making it a 12 seater. this range boasts the rope backrests that mirror the lines of our sofa set and give us that San Tropez vibe.

Lighting is the final item on the agenda, with the below Pooky wall lights being a great alternative to festoon lighting as our proximity to an electrical connection would mean a maze of extension cables. These wall mounted lights are going to have to be professionally installed around the wall of the pool area as they produce lovely ambient light. With the ability to direct light both upwards and downward, they will elongate the area giving the feeling of space.

All in all, I am grateful for the time this lockdown has given us to plan, source and carry out the renovations. We have more to do, like the addition of these wide slatted trellises once the manufacturing plants reopen.

At the moment we have created a multi-zoned space fit for relaxing and entertaining with family and friends once lockdown is relaxed.

If you are looking for a contemporary vibe that will not break the bank. The light wood pacific lounge set is £699 and comes with cushions and FREE delivery.

The Arhizia 4 piece lounge set (sofa shown below) is one not to be missed, with contemporary vibes and clean lines. It comes in at £595 for a three-seater sofa, two chairs and a coffee table.

That’s all folks! I really hope you found the piece interesting, and as always I’m happy to answer any further questions you may have or head over to email – All images & mood board copyright are owned by Emma merry styling except where noted. Please make sure you credit and tag if you use them. Thank you. x

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