One of the greatest things about sharing my renovation projects here is that while viewers grow on my YouTube channel, it’s been encouraging to try jobs I’d never dreamt about before.
It all started out and (always will be) about saving money doing DIY while offering others the chance to do the same. You won’t find me squandering on silly things much, but everyone likes some luxuries in whatever form. But you’ll find our priorities are much different those with a ready-made home.
When I moved in to our do-er upper, we chose a path of paint ridden or accidentally ripped clothes, constant dust and camping from one room to the next while we worked our way through the house. It’s been a fun adventure, but it’s also been nice to know our bargain home hasn’t come with a big stressful mortgage.
But our front and back garden really have been afterthoughts because we originally considered ourselves not being skilled enough, yet also brushed off any really expensive quotes from tradesmen. Or that I’d been told it’s really hard work.
I do like a challenge, but I also hate being told I wouldn’t be able to do it, despite not knowing as I’ve never given it a go before. So here I am, telling you I did it. Ner-ner-ner-NER-ner. And a bit of April Wilkerson video encouragement that made me think, “If April can, then why the hell is it impossible for me?”
And with a bit of hope, I can pass on a bit of that encouragement too, because I really don’t think there’s enough people trying DIY for themselves. So let’s change that!
There were a few basics I knew about. My father in law was the most valuable source of information, giving me confidence over the phone. He told me how to do it in these steps, which I’ll bullet point here for ease in order:
- Remove top soil (we dumped on the grass as it was slopy).
- Place permeable weed control sheets down.
- Place down a 100mm layer aggregate down (aka MOT) or a 75mm layer – I found it was debatable in forums.
- Compact with a whacker.
- Place down 50mm sharp sand and screed (I used 2″ cut up pipes in the video)
- Whack again.
- Rake the top 1/2 inch of the sand to loosen to top slightly.
- Place down each slab, with a 2mm gap between slabs for expansion – WEAR GLOVES 😉
- Make sure each slab is level using a spirit level and mallet, but make sure it is slightly sloping away from the building for water to run off. If your slab is textured, then you’ll have to do it by eye and feel like I did.
- Brush silver in to the gaps once finished and top up over the following few weeks due to rain helping it sink and stabilising each one.
- Make sure you have an edging to prevent moving
- If using sleepers as an edging, secure with grass road pins or whatever is more suitable for your garden.
- Using a border with 10mm pea gravel (aka pea shingle) is self compacting to prevent movement.
So now I’ve finished. Can I tell you how AMAZING it is being able to walk in to your garden barefoot? It’s bliss. (It also says, Vikkie. get a hot tub, don’t you think? And a BBQ).
I’m definitely extremely proud and it really does make you wonder what your limits really are.
So what’s next? Well, I need to build a step for the conservatory as you’ll notice we haven’t replaced our made-shift stack of slabs yet and have bought plants to put in the border for more colour and character.
(Note we have painted the patched up mortar on the garage since).
The all important visual learning bit about any DIY
(I’m a visual learner for sure!)
Total spend £583, saving £1400 against a £2k quote. Not bad for a week’s work.
List of products used in the video
All materials used were purchased from a local build store that was less mainstream and considerably cheaper. So, my advise is look for somewhere near you too. Perhaps ask in local Facebook groups as to where they’d go best priced materials.
Rubber Mallet (I broke the first one in the video)
Railways Sleeper Corner Road Pins
Railways Sleeper Road Pins
Wickes Preserver (clear): Discontinued
Folding Square (I called it Builder’s Square)
My keyring tape measure
Mini trowel (Non branded £2 from my village hardware store)
Small Whacker (hire was on offer)
Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2 Cordless Combi Drill
2″ plastic pipes from Toolstation (can’t find link) – around £2-3
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Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. Some links are affiliate links, but this is by pure chance. I only share products I’ve used that have met my requirements for a job in question.