How to transform my garden from drab to fab!

10 quick fix weekend solutions

garden design

How can I transform my garden? A garden can be as depressing as it is pleasurable. Without maintenance it can soon look tired and past its best. However with a bit of thought and planning it can be given a new lease of life without spending vast amounts of time and money. Read on for our 10 top tips to give your garden a boost.

Keep it clean

It seems simple, but giving your patio or decking a thorough clean can give an instant lift to your garden. If you really want to go to town, consider re-treating your decking. For hardwood, use a decking oil and for softwood consider a coloured stain. In both cases, if it is badly weathered sand it first to give give a sound, bare surface. For paving use a pressure washer to clean off as much inground dirt and algae as you can. If it is badly soiled you may need to use a heavy duty stone cleaner, such as Lithofin Algex or Intensive Cleaner. Once cleaned you can keep it looking good for longer by sealing the surface. The type of sealant you use will depend on your paving type, so be sure to do a little research online before purchasing. Whatever sealant you choose to transform my garden, make sure the paving (and weather forcast) is completely dry before applying and be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

Remove broken slabs

If the odd slab is damaged or impossible to get clean, try removing it (and any sub-base) and replace with soil. You can then install ground cover plants to create an attractive feature in your patio. Good plants for this are:

  • Camomile
  • Creeping thyme
  • Sedums

Alternatively you could replace the odd slab with gravel/pebbles or add a vintage feel with reclaimed Victorian tile. Remove slabs around the border of the patio to break up any straight lines and allow the planting to encroach a little. It will feel make it feel less formal and give the plants more room to spread out and show their true potential.

garden transformation ideas

Consider adding old tiles or pebbles for interest

Scale it Up

Adding a huge planter can really transform your garden. It draws the eye and adds drama to any space. Trees can be planted in big containers. Give it a go. You will be amazed at the results.

garden transformation ideas

Scaling it up with oversized planters adds excitement

Add structure

If you can include a structure, do. It might be an archway, a pergola or arbour. Whatever you choose it will become a focal point, adding height and definition. It automatically suggests where to walk, look or rest. It will also help you focus your creativity on one area of the garden if dealing with whole space seems daunting.

garden transformation ideas

Add structure to define a pathway or area

Around the edge

Treat your boundaries to an overhaul. If they look tired, they will detract from whatever else you do to the garden. Consider cladding them with a decorative material such as Perspex, metal, or laser cut screens to make the space more exciting. Or paint in a dark, neutral colour (dark grey always works well) to make the planting stand out and add a dose of designer elegance.

garden transformation ideas

Clad part of a boundary with a different material


Add contrasting textures will creates instant interest. Mix up surfaces – rough with smooth, shiny and matt, soft and hard. Plant grasses amongst existing shrubs. Install a decorative chain curtain to an existing pergola. Simple but effective.

garden transformation ideas

Add contrast. Shiny and matt.

Accessorise away

Dress your space. If you have a garden chair or bench, add cushions and a throw. Light the garden with storm lanterns or groups of jam jars and tea lights. Dress your space. There are some fabulous outdoor rugs on the market at the moment. Consider investing in one to give a simple injection of colour or pattern to transform your space.

garden transformation ideas

Add an outdoor rug for a high impact accessory

Review your planting

Take a good look at your plants and decide whether they are a good asset for your garden. If they are overgrown or ragged looking, see if you can prune, feed and generally bring them back to former glory. If not, then they may need to be replaced. Plants can be expensive though, so go for a few good quality specimens to pep up a tired bed rather than a load of cheap bedding from your local DIY store. Make sure you concentrate on leaf shape, colour and texture.


It is my number 1 tip for most gardens. Screens add personality, texture, and can alter the shape and the journey through the space. They will also do you a massive favour if you need to hide or disguise things. Used well, screens are a designer’s secret weapon.

garden transformation ideas

Use screens to change the shape of the space

Colour it in

Colour is transformative. Paint your fences in dark hues to make planting pop and give it a glamourous trendy look. Paint tired furniture to revive it and give it a new lease of life. Use colour wisely and it will pay in spades. Don’t be tempted to go for bright colours on sheds and fences unless they need to be attention grabbing. Go for darks and neutrals to make the space seem bigger and let the plants and features take centre stage.

garden transformation ideas

Dark backdrops add drama and make the planting pop