Garden renovation series. Charlie Dimmock and the Rich brothers battle it out in Stoke-on-Trent for the chance to design a cool, modern garden.
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With her can-do attitude, love of simple gardens
and decades of experience...
Hello! ..Charlie Dimmock is one of Britain's best loved gardeners.
Looking good, boys.
But the new kids on the gardening block are the Rich brothers.
We want to be the brothers that change people's perceptions of gardens.
Winners of multiple medals at the Chelsea Flower Show...
Oh, good turn. Amazing, isn't it?
..the boys have become known for their dramatic outdoor spaces.
Now these two different generations of gardening are going head-to-head.
I know they've got a gold medal, but I can come up with a few ideas.
They're meeting frustrated garden owners across the country...
The photos made it look tiny.
It is, isn't it? I'm sure you've seen larger.
I don't know what to do with it. ..and will each pitch them a design
based on their needs... Wow!
..and budget. That looks really exciting.
It doesn't look like it could be our garden.
The winner... Ta-da!
..brings their design to life...
Hold on, hold on!
Sweet as a nut. ..and the loser has to help them build it.
Oh, I'm getting irritated now with faffing around.
This is what happens...
Does he ever get irritating? All the time.
..when different styles collide...
Who chose these? One, two, three.
This looks like your design. Yeah.
..to turn garden dreams into reality.
Wow! Open your eyes.
Wow! It's amazing.
It's time for Charlie and the Rich brothers to discover whose garden
they'll be battling over this time.
If you look up blank canvas in the dictionary,
I think this garden may crop up.
We've got Lewis and Rhys and they recently moved into a new build in
Stoke-on-Trent, and they've made their house their own, but they're
struggling with inspiration for the garden.
Lewis, an HR advisor, and Rhys, a catering manager,
both work full-time and for the last couple of years
have dedicated all their spare time and money to creating their perfect
home. We've spent so long doing the house and decorating that
and prioritising that,
that we kind of forgot about the garden. I wouldn't call it a garden.
Yeah, that's definitely not a garden, what's out there at the moment.
It's just a mud bath.
Really, really muddy,
waterlogged and waiting for us to do something with it.
Rhys and Lewis would prefer their garden
to remind them of sunnier times.
We're thinking a Mediterranean theme. Yeah.
Cos we really enjoy holidays over in the Mediterranean and we quite like
the plants and the feel of being on holiday.
But the garden is currently more Costa Del Sog
than Mediterranean bliss.
The only things living in it are a few blades of grass,
the odd weed and the couple's bunny rabbit, Milo.
We're not very creative in the sense of we knew we'd want somewhere to
entertain, but how to make that look really good,
we're not full of ideas.
I think that's a problem with these new builds.
Everyone can see what they're going to do with the house, with
individual rooms, but when it comes to the garden, when they're given four fence panels...
It's going to be daunting, probably, isn't it? You can see why they've had problems.
It's - "Where do you start?" Yeah. Yeah.
Not only that, but Rhys and Lewis don't always see eye to eye.
I like really minimalistic and modern, a bit different.
Whereas I'm not so much. Definitely play it safe.
We have differences of opinion sometimes, don't we?
Not liking the same colours, not liking the same furniture,
the list is endless.
But two years of disagreeing and dithering has enabled the couple
to save a tidy sum for the garden makeover.
And the budget is...? The budget is ?4,000.
Oh! That's quite healthy, isn't it?
It's quite healthy. It's not a huge garden, is it? No, not at all, no.
The possibility of a four-grand budget to do up this space
has whetted our designers' appetites.
But their design will have to win over both Rhys and Lewis,
and that won't be easy.
So our rival designers are going head-to-head for the chance
to transform this bleak backyard,
with each of them drawing up a design for Lewis and Rhys' garden
that will work within their budget.
Then they're travelling to Stoke to pitch their designs to the couple
and whoever loses the pitch will have to help
the winner build the garden.
So, who will the couple go for?
It's time for the pitch. Here we go.
Will they go for Charlie, with her years of experience
or the boys who are known for their contemporary spaces but might
struggle with the Mediterranean theme that Rhys and Lewis love?
Kind of grasped the fact that you want this kind of contemporary,
stylish, social outdoor space that's really going to entice you
inside the house to outside.
You've got some very strong, simple lines.
It's very stylish and stylised.
This is going to be a lovely area to sit in the morning, but then
this area of an evening, a bigger area.
You can spill down onto the lawn.
And the deck, I was going to go with cedar, and rather than have it
parallel like that, I've got it on a diagonal.
Stops it looking like a pallet, all right?
As you can see with the design, we've created two levels.
We've created this lovely kind of entertainment space.
It's got two sofas, a fire bowl and you can really sit down and just relax.
We've increased the terrace space. It gives you plenty of room for the barbecue.
While the boys are playing it safe with the structure of their garden,
Charlie is upping the ante.
She's on the ball and has remembered that the couple are overlooked in their new build.
To give you some privacy,
I've got a very simple cedar pergola,
and then we've got a couple of...
They're called small trees, they're actually large shrubs.
One's a Cornus controversa.
It's lovely because the leaves are quite small, so it doesn't create a lot
of dense shade, so you can still plant underneath it.
But it has a beautiful shape to it. In that corner,
an evergreen that will screen out those roofs.
Arbutus. It's known as the strawberry tree.
Oh, right. It has flowers and fruit at the same time.
But not to be outdone,
the boys have done their homework too, incorporating the holiday theme
into the planting.
The social area is surrounded by Mediterranean-style planting,
so we want to use things that you like, like cordylines and phormiums.
We're straying away from cottage style and into soft and floral and giving you
that real flavour of the Mediterranean, bringing back some good memories of holidays.
And we've also put in two trees
and three shrubs, and they're great for vertical interest.
Just gives it a bit of architecture in the garden
and great for privacy as well.
When you're sitting down here, you feel a bit more immersed, a bit more private. Yeah.
Rhys and Lewis like what they see,
but Charlie is about to play her trump card.
I'd like to give you the structure of the garden, but your taste is
quite different from mine.
Personally, I would go for focal points, something like this,
but I can see that's not your type of thing, so I have three focal points.
One here, back-dropped with Mediterranean planting.
One here and one over there, so when you're sat on the patio or sat here,
you can see them. But I would like you to take that budget of about ?150
for each one and buy something that you would like to see in the garden.
Charlie's giving the couple a chance to make their own mark on the garden.
But will it sway them?
What's your initial impression of this one, then?
Will they choose Charlie's geometric layout...
I like how they've got a separate seating area up here.
..or the Rich brothers' secluded and stylish design?
Concrete is a nice look, personally, I think.
You see, I'm not sure about that. Oh, right, OK.
It's decision time.
It's taken us ages to decide. I'm sorry to keep you waiting.
We've picked one in the end.
We've decided to go for...
Cool. I'm pleased about that.
Well done. I'm really pleased.
Good. I think it will make this a nice little oasis of greenery.
I agree. We can't really go wrong, guys, can we?
The boys' faces say it all.
They clearly fancied getting their hands on that four grand,
and what's more, they now have to take orders from Charlie.
But she's going to need them to help realise her very modern design.
It's early morning in Stoke and work starts on the garden.
The new garden will feature a lot of hard landscaping,
so while she's off organising the plants,
Charlie has sent the contractors in
to get started on her radical design.
The design features three contrasting areas of landscaping
that interlock like giant pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
We've got this paving coming out from the house. We've got a bit of
planting either side of it and then the main bit for us... Is this deck.
..is this deck.
With four grand to spend,
Charlie has gone for decking boards made from high-end cedarwood,
which rejects moisture, so it's less prone to splitting and twisting.
Now keen to make sure her landscaping jigsaw fits flawlessly,
Charlie's arrived on site with the boys.
This garden is all about laying it out right in the first place because
it's all about getting those lines exactly right. Otherwise,
it's going to look a little...
pants. You've got that circular paving, haven't you?
Everything runs off that. It's all about the lines in this garden, isn't it?
It is indeed. There's lots of them.
Lots of lines. THEY LAUGH
Let's go and wrangle with angles.
Charlie's design is all about creating a chic, stylish space,
but in order to achieve that,
she has to take care of some practicalities first.
Right, now we need to move this.
Rhys and Lewis' plot has a slight dogleg,
which is the perfect place to hide the shed.
So it and Milo the bunny need to be moved.
Onto the deck.
Oh, hello, there we are.
Oh, I'm crushed. Hang about, hang about!
And with the shed out of the way,
Charlie's asked the brothers to build it a new base.
It's nice having this little bit here, isn't it? Yes, you can't see it from the house either.
Which is quite nice.
Meanwhile, landscapers Andy and Falklan
can get on with laying the circular patio by the back door.
To save time and money,
Charlie's chosen a patio kit of ready-cut stones.
Circular kits are a bit more difficult.
You need to lay them out dry,
play around with it until you get them absolutely bang on to what you
want. It'll save you time in the long run.
That's why you set them out dry.
If you lay them wet, you get that.
So we start again.
The humble patio has served the British garden well for decades.
But in some modern gardens,
the traditional, rectangular area of pavers is a thing of the past.
Using different shapes and contrasting materials can
turn any area of hard landscaping
into a feature and focal point.
Creating circles and semicircles makes a narrow space seem wider.
And replacing the odd paver with planting, particularly centre plants,
means your patio can smell nice as well as look nice.
In Rhys and Lewis' garden,
the landscaping will seamlessly lead the couple from the back door
to a decked seating area.
But the patio kit the boys are using doesn't quite fit properly.
Making a cardboard template first avoids wasting stones by cutting them to
the wrong size. That's perfect!
I'm happy with that. Do you think we could get away with just laying
the cardboard instead of a bit of stone?
I don't think we'll quite get away with that. It doesn't rain in Staffordshire, does it?
And a perfect one. Yeah, smashing.
Meanwhile, whilst Charlie assembles her plants,
Rhys and Lewis have asked the boys to meet them out front.
On Charlie's suggestion, they've been shopping.
What have you bought? We've got these two large pots.
Nice. They're big, aren't they? Thought the curved effect was quite nice.
They're modern and tall. We like that sort of thing.
And you've got something in here as well, have you?
We've overspent on the budget.
Don't tell us off. We really, really love it.
It's really modern. The sky.
It's actually a water feature.
It's certainly very shiny and contemporary, isn't it?
I think it's going to look beautiful in the garden.
So you said it was slightly over budget.
How much did you spend on the water feature? ?300.
So it was ?300 but there is that added cost of an electrician
to fit it as well, isn't there? OK.
We really love it. We both really love it.
Sometimes it's worth spending a little bit more and let Charlie worry
about the rest. THEY LAUGH
Harry and David can't wait to give Charlie the good news.
Charlie? Yo! Look what we've got.
What's that? This is the water feature.
I don't recall ordering that.
No, you didn't. Whoa, that is quite big, isn't it?
It's definitely a feature. They've done well, I think.
They've spent the cash, though.
They've spent it all? Well... And more.
So no going out and getting a few more plants, then? No.
With the budget and more now well and truly spent,
there better not be any more surprise costs for Charlie to deal with or
she'll be unable to give Lewis and Rhys the garden they were expecting.
Do you want me to give it a little wiggle, maybe? Yeah. Yeah, not that way.
T'other way. That way.
She has no choice but to try and accommodate the water feature
into her design.
It's important to keep the customer happy.
You spray it out first. Oh, yes!
Make some marks and then we'll dig away. But you've got to keep it level.
It's a nightmare putting these in.
People always think it's going to be easy.
But you have to dig out the hole bigger than you need, put sand down,
level it and then as you backfill it, make sure you don't put it on the tilt.
So Charlie sets the boys to work.
The black tank needs to sit underneath the ground and will be filled with
water. Once that's done,
Rhys and Lewis' water feature will be fixed to the top.
The focal points that Charlie is incorporating
will draw the eye away from the less attractive parts of the garden
and focus them on the areas of interest.
The use of focal points in garden design isn't a modern idea.
It began in the formal Italian Renaissance gardens of the 15th century and
some of today's most famous gardens are continuing the tradition.
Art historian and dedicated gardener Sir Roy Strong
has filled his own garden, the Laskett Gardens,
with distinctive points of interest.
Focal points, I think, are absolutely fundamental.
They draw the eye.
They depend on what we know as perspective, which is mathematical.
The converting lines mean distance.
You can also achieve it through planting colour,
getting softer into the distance.
They hold the whole composition together.
Roy uses a range of plants,
statues and pots to give visitors a glimpse of something in the distance
and tempt them down that path.
Anything can make a focal point, can't it?
It can be rather grand, as this garden is,
sort of classical or mock classical bits of statuary.
Or you may have some fabulous plant or clipped evergreen.
A piece of topiary can hold a whole garden together.
It can be a little fountain, it can be a piece of modern sculpture.
It can be a massive thing,
so I think it has to be something that has year-round value.
It's no use having something that comes out in the spring and
it's just a heap of dead leaves for the other ten months of the year.
Hopefully, Sir Roy would approve of Lewis and Rhys' choices.
The water feature will glisten all year round and the plants in those
elegant statement planters can be swapped with the seasons.
Whilst the electrics for the water feature go in,
the boys are digging the hole to house the ample reservoir.
And Charlie is supervising the building of the bespoke pergola.
Rather than buy one in kit form,
Lee's constructing the pergola out of cedar that matches the deck.
The pergola is really just adding a bit of height.
And also, once the climbers are on,
it will screen those houses overlooking into this garden.
What do we think, boys?
Hate it. No, only joking.
It looks great. Definitely breaks the light at the back.
It brings it down, doesn't it? It sort of brings it down a bit.
They can grow something up there, as well. So it's even more screening. Yeah.
But once the final screw is in, it's time to start measuring again.
In Charlie's design,
the lawn and the flower beds all work off the arc of landscaping.
And David has a starring role in making sure they're perfect.
I'm pretty pivotal. HE LAUGHS
By using a line,
Charlie can create a perfectly straight edge, which Harry then marks out
with line-marking paint.
The boys are used to building gardens with perfect lines and angles.
Yeah, that's about perfect.
But Charlie's finding it all a bit fiddly.
When I was drawing this up,
I thought this was a really simple, straightforward design.
It was easier to draw than it is to make.
Charlie's much more at home amongst her plants,
and she's ordered some beauties.
This is ?800 worth of plants, so it's a lot of plants.
When it comes to planting a garden from scratch
and there's nothing in it,
I would suggest the best thing to do is have something for structure that
is going to be there year in, year out. Something like evergreens.
We've got fatsias and yuccas.
And some pittosporum. Something for height.
So we've got some small trees and climbers that will give you height, and then
the third thing is colour,
so we've got some wallflowers and some lavenders
and some heucheras to give,
you know, a bit of pizzazz and seasonal interest.
Another design trick Charlie is using to give the garden a professional finish
is to edge the borders.
So all I'm doing now is putting in some wooden edging, and we don't want it
to be showing too much, so I'm just digging a trench ready to peg it in.
That will really accentuate the lines from this paving area down the garden.
Whilst the boys have the hard job of building the borders,
the boss has the fun job of filling them.
I just want to get a few key shrubs in first, then the water feature, so
I can work out what plants go where.
Since this garden is all about focal points,
Charlie has gone to town and chosen some really special plants.
The tree peony is one of her favourites.
It's got these really
architectural leaves that are a bluey-green colour.
And look, they look fantastic against the cedar deck.
Just beautiful. Look down there.
And Charlie has also kept in mind Lewis and Rhys'
fond memories of their holidays,
evoking that Mediterranean vibe
with the striking spiked leaves of the yucca.
So, how to deal with spiky plants. Because when it comes to planting
them, these are very, very sharp.
I'm not worried about putting them in the garden because Rhys and Lewis
are grown-up adults, so they know they're spiky.
But the best thing to do is wrap the sandwich film round and it gently
holds them in place.
You can plant them. And then at the very, very end, a pair of scissors,
With some of the statement plants in place,
it's time to bring in the budget-busting water feature the boys selected.
Now the reservoir is level,
the boys have filled it with water and submerged a pump.
They've connected a hose to it that will circulate the water over
the feature when the pump is turned on.
Shall we take all the fittings out?
Right. Take them out, put them to one side.
Put the lid on securely.
Water features don't just have to be focal points.
There are many other benefits to adding one to your plot.
Water in a garden is fantastic for wildlife and particularly for birds,
as it can provide an opportunity for a drink or a bath.
The gentle trickle or gurgle of water is also fantastic
for drowning out background road noise.
Whatever your garden, there's a water feature to suit it.
Rhys and Lewis's water feature, with its super shiny finish,
should add a luminance to the garden even on the dullest of days.
The other focal points they've chosen are a couple of tall metal planters.
Because this pot here has a really deep base,
I'm going to fill this with gravel and then put the pot in,
drill some holes where the base is
and then that's going to act as a water reservoir for the plants.
The water levels are just going to hit the soil so it can draw it up,
but not too much that it gets swamped.
And Charlie is finishing it off with a pop of colour
to brighten up the corner.
Don't they look nice?
And the great thing about these is these Senetti aren't 100% hardy,
so it does mean that Lewis or Rhys can lift them out and pop them in the shed
if they think it's going to be a cold night.
Charlie's solved the problem of focal points.
Her next job is to put some more height into the garden.
It's overlooked from three sides, so she wants to make it more private.
This is one of my favourite trees.
It's really a large shrub.
It's known as the wedding cake tree because it grows in these layers and
it's got a variegated leaf,
so it's got a light green with a white edge
and it just looks beautiful and architectural.
And it adds some height to the garden
and picks up the height of the pergola.
And you can still grow things underneath.
That's why it's an ideal small tree for a small garden.
To offset the areas of landscaping and swathes of planting,
Charlie has given Harry and David the task of laying
a new section of lawn.
So I'm just preparing the soil now,
having this loose layer on top, which really allows the turf to knit in and root.
After I've done this, it's really key not to stand back on it,
so as you can see, Dave's on a board here and it enables you to not mess up what I've already done.
And you just move the boards up each time and,
you know, work away from the prepared soil.
Rhys and Lewis are going to have to be vigilant about watering this lawn
every day for the next six weeks until it's firmly rooted.
This garden has tested Charlie's design skills and patience to the limit.
With such a big budget to spend,
the pressure to deliver something truly special has been intense, but
as the water feature is turned on...
Woo! Look at that.
It's quite nice because the whole brightness and shininess of it has
disappeared now the water is going down, hasn't it? Yeah. It's quite a nice sound.
It's not going to make you want to...
Run to the loo. ..go to the bathroom.
I don't know. ..and the very last Mediterranean-style plants go in...
..the garden is finally ready for its grand unveiling.
For two years,
Rhys and Lewis' sad plot has barely deserved to be called a garden.
Void of life, it was neglected whilst the couple focused
on kitting out their dream home.
Now it's had a ?4,000 face-lift.
Charlie and the team have spent every penny of the budget to give
the garden a high-end gloss that she knows the couple will be hoping for.
She focused much of the budget on different areas of high-end landscaping.
A ?900 circular patio is the ideal spot for morning coffee,
whilst the cedar deck adds a touch of luxury,
and is perfect for a glass of wine at the end of the day.
The bespoke pergola was an indulgence at ?350,
but adds height to the previously flat and boring plot...
..and will look amazing when it's covered with flowers.
Charlie chose to allocate more than ?1,000 to plants,
but the impact is immense.
They add privacy and intimacy to the garden,
and have that Mediterranean feel that the boys asked for.
And Lewis and Rhys have stamped their personality on the garden too,
with focal points in the form of this stunning water feature
and two statement planters.
Before they called the Garden Rescue team,
Lewis and Rhys had no idea
what to do with the blank space they called their garden.
And to get the ultimate transformation, they staked ?4,000.
Keep your eyes closed.
It's time to find out if Charlie and the boys have delivered the garden
they dreamed of. Rhys, this way.
You can open your eyes now.
Bloody hell. Wow! Oh, my word!
Is that a good "goodness me"?
Wow! That's very good.
Yeah? Oh, wow. That is really nice. Oh, thank you.
Loving it. Of course they are.
Is that Mediterranean enough for you? Yes.
That's the type of view. The yuccas...
Oh, wow. It's amazing.
Let me get on your shoulders now, mate. Get on, get on up.
I have to say, you did a good job with the water feature.
Yes! THEY LAUGH
I'll give you that, even though you blew the budget.
This will make this your own private little sanctuary in this area.
Oh, it's fantastic.
Good. Would you employ us again, then?
Right answer. We might not let you go out shopping again
cos we slightly blew the budget but, hey.
What's a budget? What's a budget?
This garden has been built from scratch.
There was absolutely nothing for Charlie and the boys to work with,
and they've succeeded in pleasing two clients
with very particular taste.
We're going to come out here for weeks, possibly months and think,
"Wow, it's transformed our garden."
Money well spent, definitely.
Today, Charlie Dimmock and the Rich brothers battle it out in Stoke-on-Trent for the chance to design a cool, modern garden. Lewis and Rhys are a young couple that have made their new build house their own but have run out of ideas when it comes to the garden. With only three fences, a shed and a few weeds to work with, can the designers transform this characterless plot into the chic 'outdoor room' the couple dream of, and do it all within their £4,000 budget? Along the way, the designers have tips on which materials to use to add a touch of luxury to your garden and ideas for focal points to make the most of the whole garden.