Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Little Piece of Paradise; You Don't Have to Spend a Fortune to Improve the Look of Your Small, Urban Garden as Hannah Stephenson Discovers in a New Book

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Little Piece of Paradise; You Don't Have to Spend a Fortune to Improve the Look of Your Small, Urban Garden as Hannah Stephenson Discovers in a New Book

Article excerpt

Byline: Hannah Stephenson

IF you live in town and have a busy lifestyle but want to jazz up your small garden, BBC Gardeners' World presenter Joe Swift may have some solutions.

It doesn't have to cost a fortune to jazz up your urban outdoor space if it is looking a little tired and neglected, says Swift.

"I've worked on many garden makeover TV shows and, although they have received bad press for rushed work and a superficial approach, many of the quick fixes we used considerably improved the style and look of the gardens we worked on," he writes in his new book, Joe's Urban Garden Handbook.

So what can you do to give your garden a visual boost?

"Boundaries are really important," he notes. "If you have really ugly walls try and clad them or cover them with something such as plyboard, which you can paint, or screening, which comes on a roll.

"Cover up an unsightly boundary because it's the first thing that you see as you come out and it can be the most depressing and claustrophobic part of a small garden, where everything is at eye level."

Clean up old paving, walls and pots by hiring a pressure washer, or if you can afford it, think about resurfacing, but consider the tones you are going to need, he advises.

"In a small, shady garden, go for a lighter shade of sandstone or a lighter colour paving, mixed with light coloured aggregates to save yourself some money."

Lawns simply don't work in small, shady gardens, but if you have a big space and you want a lawn, think about edging it with timber to define it, which will instantly make the garden look tidier.

Paint is another option which, though once popular, is now underused.

"I use quite a lot of paint on boundaries, brickwork and walls," he says. "It's such an easy and cheap thing to do. If you have a dark, shady garden look at lightening it up.

Don't use pure white, which is quite a demanding colour. Look at natural tones of off white, creams, taupes or mushroom colours, which work well in shade.

"The more light you have in your garden, the more daring you can be with colour, using terracottas, purples or reds to set off the plants and intensify the greens of any plants you put next to them. …

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