Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover on a budget with Wyevale Garden Centres [AD]

This is a paid partnership written in collaboration with Wyevale Garden Centres

I am so, so excited to finally be able to reveal the results of my contemporary garden makeover on a budget that I’ve been working on with Wyevale Garden Centres since the beginning of May. I know everyone loves a good Before & After and this one has been a real transformation, I almost don’t recognise it myself – it’s gone from a hideously overgrown mess that we were embarrassed to look at to a clean, contemporary urban oasis that we can relax in and enjoy.

With a few minimal, uncomplicated design choices, the space feels so much bigger and brighter. It feels like we’ve gained an extra few metres of space, but it’s really just down to a couple of clever spatial tricks and a hell of a tidy-up. The key thing for me with this garden makeover was simplicity – I wanted something that was fuss-free and easy to maintain, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on hard landscaping or expensive finishes. The focus instead was on creating a clean backdrop for relaxing and entertaining – a calm, peaceful retreat – somewhere to read a book, soak up the sunshine and savour slow evenings with friends and a glass or two. It’s a flexible space that can grow and evolve with us, from day to evening, from summer to autumn.

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
A simple, contemporary garden makeover on a budget
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Before & After: From overgrown mess to clean, contemporary urban oasis
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Now the garden is a peaceful retreat to escape to, with a cosy seating area clustered around a low fire pit that will allow us to spend more time outside

My contemporary garden makeover plans
It took the gardener the best part of a day to clear the garden of all the bamboo and weeds. Finally we could see the full size of the garden and the fencing that had been hidden behind months of overgrown foliage. We had been fighting a bit of a losing battle with the weeds really, and had just left it to do its thing while we focused on renovating the inside of the house.

A new layer of membrane was laid down and secured in place before the Cotswold Stone Chippings could be arranged on top. I decided to remove a section of the existing patio tiles to give a greater illusion of space and create a bbq area with a table and chairs tucked around the corner of the old extension (a straight section of paving and then pebbles seemed to visually cut the garden off in two, making it appear smaller than it actually is). Having that little indent by the side return of the house makes the garden appear longer and creates a shady nook under the jasmine for a chair. The light colour of the stones makes the garden feel more generous and gives a bright feel to the north-facing space, even if the sun disappears by 5pm in the summer.

We installed some new contemporary slatted fencing at the end of the garden and painted it black to contrast with the cream chippings. The look is smart and minimal, softened by the texture of the old brick walls and the elegant clusters of greenery. I think the deep, dark colour makes the plants look so fresh and vibrant.

And that’s as simple as it was – a pure base with a cohesive colour scheme, ready to add furniture, details and accessories. I deliberately extended the chippings right to the edges of the garden and didn’t have decorative, floral borders as I felt that would make this small garden feel even smaller. It seemed more modern to have a large open space and a couple of carefully positioned, big, black planters rather than lots of little pots and several separate sections to the garden.

Befor & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The focus was on creating a clean backdrop with contemporary black fencing and white stone chippings
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
A simple colour palette of black and white with dark grey accents and soft greenery
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The foliage at the back has been cut back and tidied up, while new black fencing gives a smart, contemporary finish
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The jasmine smells wonderful this time of year and string lights (available in stores at Wyevale Garden Centres) glow in the evenings
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The scheme plays with texture, the old brick walls paired with black painted wood, white pebbles and bamboo lanterns (available in stores at Wyevale Garden Centres)
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Looking into the garden from the side return, now I have a beautiful view from the kitchen window

Planting
You’re spoilt for choice, colours and varieties when you enter a Wyevale Garden Centre, but I choose to deliberately keep my plant scheme pared-back and minimal – picking out three colours (white, green and purple-y black) so as not to overcomplicate things. I bought a Fatsia to give a punch of greenery and a fig tree to add some height. Elsewhere, inspired by the jasmine which grows over the neighbouring wall, I’ve selected plants for their fragrance, with delicate white lavender, fresh herbs and pots of green mint. The smell is amazing. I even found a variety called ‘Chocolate Cosmos’, a pretty little, dark chocolate brown-black flower that amazingly smells of chocolate!

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
This original old wall is one of my favourite features of the house and garden, I didn’t want to obstruct it or hide it, so I chose some simple metal planters from Wyevale Garden Centres
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Fragrance is a key part of the garden, not just the jasmine, but delicate, white lavender, fresh herbs and vibrant, green mint
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The garden will take a while to soften and grow, but I already love the wispy, wild foliage
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The clean lines and black of the fencing is mirrored in these two box plants, marking out the patio/bbq area for a dining table and chairs

Sticking with the simple, black theme, I got two black cube planters from Wyevale Garden Centres and filled them with purple Heucheras – their sprays of small, cream flowers look wonderfully wild. I then painted one of Wyevale’s trough planters and some old terracotta pots I had lying about the same colour as the fencing to tie the scheme together. The trough planter has some sculptural grasses interspersed with a black pop of Chocolate Cosmos, which balances with the green and the purple of the other planting in the garden.

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
I also painted a few ordinary terracotta pots I had lying around with the leftover fence paint to tie the scheme together
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The black cube planters (also from Wyevale Garden Centres) are filled with deep purple, almost black Heucheras
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The Heuchera plant has wild clusters of deep purple leaves and sprays of small, cream flowers in summer
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
I’ve kept the planting to three simple colours so as not to overcomplicate things: white, green and purple/black. The white colour of the lavender matches with the Cotswold chipping
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
I painted the wooden trough planter in the same colour as the fencing and planted it up with a variety of grasses and Chocolate Cosmos, which although inedible, amazingly smell of chocolate!
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
A view of the garden from the side return, with the patio area tucked around to the left and the trough planter positioned to add some greenery against the brick wall

Garden furniture and focal points
I already had a grey metal dining table and chairs for the garden so when I spotted this cool, contemporary Brighton furniture set with two egg-shaped chairs and a table in a similar shade, I knew it would tie everything together and add a beautiful accent colour. I’ve created a cosy corner in the sunniest spot of the garden, where you get the last of the evening sun – perfect for sundowners even if it does go before 6pm!

The Seventies-inspired curves add a counterpoint to all the clean, straight lines, while a little table is always useful for having drinks to hand. The deep, inviting chairs are also super comfortable and can be left outdoors which is a big plus for me. Soft accessories needn’t just be for inside either – two navy blue outdoor cushions finish the look off nicely.

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The Brighton Bistro furniture set from Wyevale Garden Centres adds some sculptural curves to the straight, clean lines of the garden

But even if the sun does disappear we have a new fire pit that creates a focal point to gather round in the middle of the garden. We’ll be able to extend the use of the garden long into the evenings, especially with a few solar-powered string lights strung up in the foliage too. A couple of bamboo lanterns, lit with tea lights, will create a lovely, romantic glow as well.

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The table and chairs have been positioned in the sunniest corner of the garden, where you get the last of the evening sun
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
A large fire pit creates a cosy, inviting focal point to gather round with friends
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Little details to extend the use of the garden long into the evenings
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The soft grey of the table and chairs sits beautifully against the black and white
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The colour scheme is softened with vibrant greenery
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The deep curve of the Brighton chair supports the body and is super comfortable
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
A few accessories help bring the inside out and create an extra room to the house – these Blue Stripe cushions from Wyevale Garden Centres add a graphic touch

So there we have it, my contemporary garden makeover – what a change! Though it must be said that a garden is rarely a finished thing, it takes time to nurture and grow. This all needs to soften, but what we’ve done is create a beautiful, clean slate to make our own. It’s something to build upon – it’s my first garden and I can’t wait to learn more about planting and cultivating. My next plan is to get another trough planter, position it nearer the kitchen window and fill it with tomatoes, lettuces and vegetables!

We’re already spending so much more time in the garden, even just being able to take out the laptop and catch up on some work in a calming, green setting makes all the difference. It fills me with joy every time I look out of the kitchen window or peer down from my desk in the back bedroom overlooking the garden. Let’s just hope British weather will stick it out for the summer!

Have you got any makeover plans for your garden? Will you be sprucing it up this summer?

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
All set up for slow, sunny days in the garden

*INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY*
Finally, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram profile for the chance to win one Brighton Bistro garden furniture set (worth £169) from Wyevale Garden Centres, as featured here!

Simply click on the photo of my garden in my Instagram feed and follow the instructions: make sure you’re following both myself (@catesthill) and @wyevalegc, and like and tag a friend in the comments section of the competition image to enter. Good luck!

The competition is open to UK entrants only. The winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday 22nd June 2018. Please note this giveaway is not associated with or endorsed by Instagram. 

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
An overhead shot of the garden, taken from the back bedroom above, the space looks so much bigger and brighter thanks to the creamy white chippings
Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
The Brighton Egg chairs and bamboo lanterns create an inviting space to relax

Featured items [gifted by Wyevale Garden Centres]:
Brighton three piece chair and table set in dark grey, £169
Outdoor cushions in blue swipe, £12.50
Large Pittsburgh industrial fire pit, £250
Forest Caledonian trough bed (180 x 45cm), £104.99
Kelkay Cotswold Stone Chippings bulk bag 14-22mm, £149
Everything else available in stores. 

Before & After: My contemporary garden makeover with Wyevale Garden Centres - London garden makeover - black fencing - cream gravel - simple outdoor living
Before & After: What a difference! My simple garden makeover on a budget, easy to achieve with a few uncomplicated design choices

Design, styling and photography: Cate St Hill

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  1. Karen Dowding

    Such a lovely garden it looks beautiful. Love your colour combination. Could I ask where the metal planters with the white lavender are from please.

    • Thank you Karen! Almost everything you see is from Wyevale Garden Centres, including the metal planters and the white lavender xx

  2. It looks stunning Cate! What a beautiful outdoor space you’ve created. I love the contrast of the pale stones with the darker greys, and the plants you’ve chosen.

    • Thank you Abi! It makes such a difference to have a lovely outdoor space which we want to spend time in, rather than be surrounded by weeds! I love the contrast of the green and the black x

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