Way back in 2016, we viewed our house for the first time, and this was the garden. Although “garden” is a bit of a stretch, looking back. A mucky, concrete patio and a patch of scrubby land, full of rubble and stones – proper ankle-breakers – and vines attached to an old house, which had been half cut back. And we still fell in love with it!
Fast forward a couple of years, and we decided that we had to tackle this outside place. Now, there’s a bit of a curious tale attached to this piece of land. Although it abuts our garden, and sits underneath our living room window, it’s not actually ours. It actually belongs to the abandoned house – which currently has in excess of twenty owners, some on the other side of the world. So, we figured it wasn’t going to sell anytime soon, and as the only way to actually access it, without crossing our land, would be to crawl through those small windows, it seemed pretty certain that if we up-kept the land, no-one would object. And, so far, that’s what’s happened. We’ve tidied it up, looked after it and everyone seems OK with that.
The first attempt at our diy garden, involved moving all of the ankle-breakers away, and putting the smaller stones around the perimeter. We’d have needed a digger to get them all out and we just needed it to be tidied up, as we’d never really actually be using it. The vines were cut back, the soil turned over and levelled and geotex matting secured to stop weeds penetrating. The whole are was then filled with red bark chippings, which now, over time, have faded in the sun and turned a bit mulchy after winter weather and rain.
The concrete patio, to the right of the red bark, has always been pretty horrible. It’s not the prettiest and was definitely not done by someone with an eye on aesthetics, so we had the bright idea to paint it. With pale blue exterior concrete paint, which we were assured was durable. It cost an absolute fortune and to be fair, did look beautiful. For a few months…
The paint on the steps up into the house has survived, but the patio is now back to concrete. A summer of very hot sun, saw to the “durable” exterior paint and the following year we had to pressure wash it all off, as it was too flaky. So, we’ve had a major rethink and we’re now doing what we should have done right at the beginning – white stones. Taking inspiration from the beautiful hotels scattered across Puglia, in particular, we’re going for white and Mediterranean.
The option of white stones is also massively less expensive than the eye-watering concrete paint. At €40 for three cubic metres (plus delivery), we’ll be able to do the whole garden, and finish off the access road along the side of the house, for considerably less than the paint job! We’ve just laid the first delivery of stones in the area where we had the red bark chippings. Against the green wall, they look lovely and really enhance this very unusual feature in our garden.
The next delivery of stones, for the patio, has just arrived but we’ve been slightly diverted by another improvement, which is being put into action. And which has led onto another idea. We’re having some of our shutters replaced and the old ones have been propped up in the garden. We think we can definitely make use of them at the far end of this stoned area and cover the old wooden door, with pale blue shutters. They’re not good enough to hang at the windows, but they are perfectly fine, in their weathered state, to cover something even more weathered. And, when that’s done, we’ll be implementing the new idea, then levelling the next load of white stones on the patio.
It’s great to be finally seeing huge progress in the garden – by the end of today, things will look considerably improved. And, by the end of the week, we’re very hopeful that the construction of the wall to the rear of the house, will be almost there, ready for rendering next week…