Teaching assistant Sophie Valentine decided to radically transform the 40ft of flat, dirty lawn on her West Sussex property after they bought it in 2019
One woman has opened up about how she transformed her drab backyard into her ‘dream garden’ with just £2,000.
Sophie Valentine moved into her 1960s three bedroom semi-detached house in 2019.
The teaching assistant then decided to radically transform her 40ft flat and dirty lawn on her West Sussex property.
After learning gardening and negotiating tips, the 34-year-old is now sharing her top tips for anyone who’s feeling overwhelmed by a boring garden or overwhelmed by an overgrown one.
Sophie said that to get her garden going she spent £200 online on plants.
She said: “These included clematis, a whole cottage fringe collection, fatsia, a flowering tree and a lilac tree.
“I then gradually added plants that were gifted to me.
“I was gifted a foxglove when I moved here, but now I have about thirty of them just because he seeded himself.
“In the garden centers I go straight to the discounted section, where there are great bargains.
“Over the three years of this garden project we have spent £2,000 including some fencing, pergolas, two patio areas, plants and lawn.
“Facebook Marketplace and eBay helped this garden develop.
“There are so many bargains there. Most of our decking that we use were free from Facebook or a section was £50.
“Ben built us two pergolas himself that saved thousands, one of which is where my beautiful wisteria canopy grows.”
Sophie started gardening ten years ago when she moved into her first rental house with a garden.
She explained how she first began her quest to become the queen of her own garden.
Sophie added, “In the spring of 2019, on a cold, rainy Saturday morning in February, we went outside as a family and began the mammoth task of clearing the garden,” Sophie said.
“We live in a semi-detached house and our garden wraps around the entire house, which means we’ve been able to create three zones – the nursery and patio, the wisteria courtyard and the perimeter of the house.”
The family found many ways to save while designing the perfect garden – from doing their own DIY to finding plants at reduced prices.
“People often move into a house and want the garden cleared out, so it’s possible to get amazing pots, plants, and equipment for free or very cheaply,” Sophie said.
“I wanted a garden full of flowers, so growing from seed helped me achieve that.
“Of course, my favorite dahlias are tall plants that burst with flowers all summer long.
“I have also used tutorials on YouTube to learn how to take cuttings from plants, propagate and divide my plants.
“Buying plants online is so much cheaper than garden centers and buy what you can afford.
“If you can’t afford large established plants from the garden center, buy plug plants online.
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“These are small plants that often come in the mail and that you grow yourself. It may take a few years for some to become established, but you will soon have a full garden.
“You then learn to divide the plant and have twice as many plants for free.
“My tips are to shop online, browse retail sites for bargains, grow from seed, grow something fun and unusual.
“Always ask for help and advice on Instagram – we all help each other.”
Sophie started sharing her gardening tips online last year and says she’s been using the garden to boost her mental health.
She added: “I started my Instagram page last year to document our garden transformation journey.
“After a difficult estrangement from family, I threw myself into the garden to heal myself and help improve my mental health and well-being.
“I wanted it to be the best the garden has ever been. In creating this garden I also grew the best version of myself.
“The Instagram gardening community is so unique, so supportive and caring, and we all have so much in common.”
Sophie shares tips for designing a beautiful garden on a budget on her Instagram page @lookinsidemygarden.