Garden // Landscaping our patio and building a greenhouse & garage.

January 17, 2018

Hello! I've been meaning to write this post since the garden was finished {* I say finished, always a few more jobs we'd like to do!} around September time and I owe some of you an apology who have been patiently waiting. All of these photos were taken back in the summer so it's lovely to look back on them whilst it's all bleak and bare outside right now. I wanted to share the transformation to the back of our house since the extension and how we've finished the patio and built a greenhouse/garage at the side. I actually forgot just how crazy the before photos were with all the different levels etc!


When we first bought our house, the garden was a blank canvas and I've shared posts on how we transformed the grass area into a more landscaped cottage style garden here.

We started this the summer we first moved into the house but left the patio/garage area because we knew that we'd be starting the building work to the back of the house eventually. 

You had to step up to the house originally with an overgrown old garage, shed, a big clump of bamboo and huge bay tree bush. It was disjointed, the patio had crazy paving and the back of the house with the 1970s extension was mismatched and unattractive.

Patio before.

This photo was taken the day before the diggers arrived!

The side access used to be through that wrought iron black gate and the area by the garage was wasted space.

Over last Winter the back of the house came off and our new kitchen extension was built. You can see more photos of all the build progress here and here. Once the actual build was finished we could then start on finishing the outdoor space. We had the builders bring down the existing garage {which we freecycled on eBay to save filling a few skips}, big hedges and gates to leave us with a blank canvas.

We kept the existing patio where possible as a solid base {we're also in a listed building/conservation zone so the council didn't want us to disturb original ground/stonework where possible} which in the middle part of the garden was the right height for the house give or take. But the right hand side had a big drop which needed building up.

It was already so good to see the garden laid out in front of us from the kitchen and glass doors and we wanted to incorporate this into the patio so it was open and you could step down directly from the patio onto the main part of the garden. So we created some raised flower beds to separate the grass from the patio and would have steps in the middle. 

We had ground workers bring hardcore in to level off the space {the new patio would be bigger than the one before} so we needed a solid concrete base. This then all got covered in sand and had new patio slabs laid on top for an even ground cover. We bought the cheapest most basic slabs we could find as we were going to top them with gravel.

A lot of people have asked us why we chose gravel compared to a slab patio or decking. The main reason is that our patio is north facing and in the winter doesn't get any sun so we didn't want a slippy patio/it going green and having to pressure wash it every Spring. Equally decking can be slippy and grow algae etc. Gravel is such a low maintenance option which goes with the cottage garden feel we wanted with all of our pots/greenhouse etc. It's also the cheapest and easiest option! The only downside really is having to put shoes on when you go outside compared to stepping barefoot {and my Mum always says that when we have children they won't be able to draw with chalk or play with trucks on it but I'm sure we can sort that out!} By having the paving slabs underneath the gravel means that you've got a solid base for the gravel to sit on top of.

The framework for the border beds.

In progress...

There were drainage channels fitted to run around the extension to prevent water getting near the block work. We had the doors set just above where the gravel would finish so that it wouldn't over run too.

We framed the front beds with wood to hold them in place but later this gets covered so that you don't see it.

The middle of this had steps laid to centre on the path down our garden.

The steps were set a little higher so that the gravel sits flush with them.

A retaining wall was built at the edge of the patio for the garage and greenhouse to be built on.

The brown ugly shed got dismantled and the greenhouse base was built.

It's always been our dream to have a greenhouse as we're plant crazy. It seemed like the perfect position so that it's close enough to the house and we decided it would sit like a lean to the new garage rather than a freestanding greenhouse which would take up more space.

The rest of the patio got levelled and finished off.

It was starting to look like a garden and the alfresco space off the kitchen we'd been dreaming of.

The gravel arrived and got spread around {look how hot and dry the grass looked by this point, it had been such a dry summer!}

Then August arrived and it poured down for what seemed like weeks. The greenhouse base was built up and now it was over to Ben and his team to finish the woodwork structures.

We wanted the garage and greenhouse to be on the same level as the house/patio so it all looked as one. Such a change already from when we first bought the house. Just having the big bay bush out and shed opened it all up. 

The greenhouse is timber framed, insulated and clad with weatherboard inside & out.

This is Vaughan working with Ben {his right hand man, he's like family to us! Such a great guy who has since been off ill, and after months of him being here 5 days a week we've missed him so much since September!}

It looked too tall to start with but we wanted it to be as light and airy as possible. We also cut quite a lot of the tree away. 

I love the classic look that weatherboard gives.

Then the garage started to get built up which would block the side off with double doors at both ends for access.

Taking shape!

The flooring was laid with scaffold boards and for the roof we chose grey slates.

By this point we'd got a table on the patio and were back to having BBQs! 

The doors were fitted and it was really taking shape. The end was in sight!

We even put the rolltop in place, something I'd been picturing for months! A planted up rolltop in front of our very own greenhouse.

At the other end of the garage we built steps up for the differing level. I say garage but we'll never keep a car inside it! Instead it's used for storage and an extra freezer etc.

The garage was almost finished so then it was onto the greenhouse which we left until last.

We had Tommo, our favourite decorator, fill and paint the weatherboarding in Farrow & Ball Lime White exterior.

We had to wait a while for the greenhouse glass Ben had ordered to arrive. It's important to use horticultural grade glass to allow the correct amount of light to pass through it for plants to grow.

The bath was filled with soil and repainted in Farrow & Ball Railings. 

I planted roses in it {a cue to this blog's name!} and some lavender around the outside.

We strung up some festoon lights to finish it off. And Rock my Style came to shoot! It was in August but such a grey day. The greenhouse glass wasn't fitted but the photos turned out well regardless, a credit to Adam shooting.

We added some galvanised tubs with fruit trees to add interest to a plain wall either side of our sliding doors. The heart is from an antiques market.

These photos are from the Rock my Style shoot. We hadn't quite finished the timber edged flower beds by then or the steps in front of the greenhouse but you can see the whole area in the pics.

Such a crazy transformation when you look back at the before photos. Eventually we hope to get planning permission to build a second storey on top of the kitchen for an extra bedroom and bathroom but the conservation guy at the council doesn't want us to disturb that window. 

Inside the greenhouse the floor had the soil compacted and bricks laid on top. We created staging from old singer sewing machine stands and sanded scaffold board tops. 

We {I keep saying we, I mean Ben Vaughan & AB} then fitted brackets for a scaffold board shelf above.

On one side of the greenhouse we have the staging and shelf as above. At the back is a vintage dresser unit and to the other side is a raised bed that we can grow tomatoes/peppers etc in.

We've got top opening windows for airflow that we'll fit with self-openers and at the front the doors and windows open fully again for ventilation and for when it gets too hot. The back of the greenhouse is shaded by the tree but the front is super light.

Eventually the glass arrived and got fitted to make it water tight and ridges on top of this to protect the edges.

We filled the bed on the right with soil. I haven't got any recent photos as the day after it finished we flew to Mauritius and by the time we came back summer was more or less finished so we filled the greenhouse with plants we wanted to protect over the winter. This Spring we'll be on a mission to get it all up and running ready for seed planting. We know that we'll probably fill it all too quickly but we didn't want to take up anymore ground space in the garden with a greenhouse. We can fit extra tables/staging over the raised bed when not in use for seed growing time and then move things around when needed.

Roll on those balmy summer light evenings again! I can't wait to really enjoy it all this year. Although we want to do something with the right hand side of the patio as you're looking at the back of the house. The opposite side to the garage/greenhouse. Maybe a fire pit or pizza oven? We've got a large space there at the moment that feels a bit wasted so it would be nice to create another seating area and maybe weatherboard behind it to mirror the greenhouse etc. We'll see if we get any time this Spring/Summer. We want to start our loft bathroom and master bedroom ASAP! 

I'm so so pleased with the finished patio, buildings and outside space so far though. It works so well bringing the garden and house together, especially with the glass sliding doors and feels so much more open.

I hope this has helped to answer some of your questions! Let me know if I've missed anything.

R <3 xx 

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  1. Yup, loved that read, huge changes and I'm glad you've got a raised bed (almost border!) compared to just using bags..... going to get our chillis and tomatoes off in the electric propagator this weekend. They'll be up before we know it!

  2. Wow, this is absolutely stunning! You have such beautiful taste..I'm completely in awe! (Please pop round and redesign my garden...and living room...and dining area..and...and...). Thank you for sharing your inspirational home with us x

  3. Wow, this is absolutely stunning! You have such beautiful taste..I'm completely in awe! (Please pop round and redesign my garden...and living room...and dining area..and...and...). Thank you for sharing your inspirational home with us x

  4. Wow, this is absolutely stunning! You have such beautiful taste..I'm completely in awe! (Please pop round and redesign my garden...and living room...and dining area..and...and...). Thank you for sharing your inspirational home with us x

  5. Wow! I have greenhouse envy, what a stunning garden you now have. I love every detail especially the New England look garage/ greenhouse. x


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