Working on ITV's Love Your Garden is always great fun. It's great to see the transformation, especially when you know what a difference it will make to the family.
But a total makeover in such a short time is a challenge! One of the biggest pressures is getting as much of the hard landscaping done as early as possible. It has to be ready before all the trees, shrubs and flowers arrive.
Getting the hard landscaping foundations sorted is key, especially when we are talking about paving and walling.
In tonight's episode, we're in Walsall laying some beautiful paving for the The Perrins-Seedhouse family. The first area was designed for dining and family time, and the other was a more relaxing spot for the family to unwind.
People don't realised just how important hand landscaping is for entertaining in the garden. In many cases, paving is just something that's bolted onto the back of the house.
But it can be so much more. The patio is an aesthetic feature in the garden, rather than just functional. It’s well worth spending time considering the design and position of your patio to make sure you get the most out of it.
Position the patio in the optimal part of the garden for when you want to use it. If you want to eat breakfast in the garden every morning, put the patio in the sunniest spot during the morning. If you like to relax on an evening with a glass of wine, choose the corner with the most evening sunlight.
On Love Your Garden, we positioned the main patio by the back door so the family could easily go in and out of the house. This makes dining and entertaining so much more convenient.
The second patio was tucked just around the corner, further out in the garden. The main aim of this patio area was to create a tranquil space where Nina could escape, sit down and have a bit of peace and quiet.
The paving we used was Bradstone's Mode Profiled in Graphite which is made of tiles rather than slabs.
I think it's great to have something different in your garden, and the tiles added a striking design aspect to the garden. When the patio is laid, it has a gorgeous surface texture and a rich designer finish.
We also adapted the way we laid the patio to suit the tile design. We used tile spacers to give a perfectly even finish. And in both the patio areas the paving really stood out.
The colour was good too because the blue-grey tone adds to the chic feeling in the garden. It was great fun to build and lay down, and it looks fantastic.
One of the biggest issues with laying paving during a busy garden makeover is not just people walking over it before it dries, but also the mud they bring in on their wellies! We use special cordex, which is corrugated plastic, to create walkways over the paving and protect it from workmen's boots.
I also really liked the furniture we put on the patio areas. It's important to co-ordinate paving and furniture so they work together.
For this episode, we made furniture out of recycled wooden pallets. It is great fun and so inexpensive! People seem to forget just how versatile wood is.
Plus, I can see why outdoor sofas are becoming more and more popular. It's a great way to create a relaxed atmosphere when you're sitting outside.
It was a delight to work on that episode, and I think the family truly appreciated the garden. I hope they get lots of enjoyment from it.
It helps to remind ourselves that the garden is about more than chores like watering and weeding. The garden is an escape from the world, a place that nourishes the soul. And everybody should make the most of their outdoor space.