The Sussex Gardener Blog
Our Gardens of 2021
Happy New Year! We appreciate that we are a little late with our salutation, but after a very difficult and unsettling couple of years for many, we truly hope that the year ahead is a good one for all.
We were lucky enough to be inundated with enquiries throughout 2021 as people realised how much they valued their outdoor space. We hope you like our selection of projects with the before and after photos to give you an idea of what we have been up to.
Tunbridge Wells Front & Back Garden
This was a complete overhaul to provide a stunning back garden for entertaining, and a welcoming front garden to be proud of.
A Back Garden in Buxted
The aim was to screen the long expanse of fence and give this unremarkable plot some character. Our clients initially had reservations about the 2 planting "pods" in the design, but now absolutely love them!
Wadhurst Front & Back Garden
A neglected and overgrown garden was given an injection of love and life for these clients.
This was part of a larger project for a client showcasing the planting scheme in summer.
Our clients loved plants but wanted their garden to be as easy to look after as possible, and so instead of lawn we laid pebbles, and the raised beds made life much easier for them.
Herstmonceux Minimum Maintenance Garden
The aim was to make a garden that required barely any maintenance. We made a pebble garden with some stunning plants that will more or less look after themselves.
A New Build Garden in Haywards Heath
From the client:
“The quality and effort Rob put into his work was outstanding and his attention to detail unmatched. He even installed a wooden step to the cat flap when he dropped the floor level for the patio.
On a more personal note we are all really happy with the garden Rob created for us, and the children have spent most the last two days playing in it now they finally have a usable space. We do miss Rob, he was a lovely gentleman to have around.”
We always want to create stunning gardens for all of our clients, and it was no different for this blank canvas in Haywards Heath. Giving people a welcoming outdoor space that they can cherish and enjoy for many years to come is just as important to us and so our client’s feedback left us feeling very warm and fuzzy!
We were delighted that they were so happy with their new and improved garden, and the many bacon sandwiches and on-tap tea were very welcome to say the least – thanks so much guys!
It was a sloped plot, and so to make the best use of the space available, we created 3 levels. The clients love to entertain and so a large patio was top of their wish list, with a veggie garden and some lawn for their young children to play on.
Setting up and correcting the levels for the garden.
Work is well underway with the hard landscaping nearly finished.
We moved the shed for them and built 2 veggie beds. The clients were keen to do their own planting and once established it will conceal the boring fence line and improve their privacy as well as breath life into the garden.
Fencing in Sussex
We’ve been lucky enough to be busy all summer, and so we’re sorry that we haven’t updated the website for a while. We’re just catching up now, starting with one of the two fencing jobs we did. Sadly the photos for the other one didn’t do their garden justice.
Our client called it a work of art. We’re not too sure about that, but it is a strong, well-built fence that will last for a very long time indeed.
This is what our other customer had to say. You can see the full testimonial on our Client’s Quotes page.
“It’s never easy moving somewhere new, and not being able to get personal recommendations for work like this, but we were lucky to find Rob, and would happily recommend 'The Sussex Gardener' to anyone. Thanks again, Rob!”
Upgrading a Side Path in East Grinstead
We all have those areas in our gardens that we have become “blind” to over the years, but, now we’re all spending so much time at home, we have time to notice just how ugly they are. At least, that’s what happened for our clients. They had put up with this side path and its wonky paving slabs and falling-down fence for years, but then they ran out out of funny videos to watch on social media, looked around, and decided to take action and improve their garden!
This was a really unattractive space with an ancient fence and rotting gate.
Et Voila! This was a much more welcoming entrance to their garden and a new and improved fence gave them more privacy.
Raised Bed in Crowborough or How to Make the Best of a Boggy Boundary
The hedge running along the boundary of this garden was dying because it couldn’t cope with the boggy ground and poor soil it was planted in. It wasn’t worth simply planting a new hedge as this wouldn’t survive either, but our clients did need a way to screen their garden from next door.
As it only affected this strip of the garden, one option was to dig out the ground and replenish it with topsoil and improve the drainage so that we could plant another hedge. However our clients liked our suggestion of building a long raised bed, as it would enable excellent drainage, and once planted up it would be a real feature in the garden as well as creating privacy.
The hedge has been cut down and the roots dug out.
The raised bed made from new sleepers, stepped down to fit with the slope. It also made it much more attractive as it wasn't just a bulky block of timber.
We filled the bed with a topsoil and compost mix and left it ready to plant up. It’s best to wait until the start of the growing season next spring to plant anything, besides which, our client is a keen gardener and wanted to design the planting scheme themselves.
Making Two Gardens into One Or A New Lawn, Hedge and Brick Path in Maresfield
From the client:
This is the third time The Sussex Gardener has worked for us on a garden project.
Once again, we are delighted with the result. Rob works relentlessly hard to create exactly what we want in the garden. He was well organised, considerate of our needs and the job was completed on time and on budget.
The original garden is on the left and the new plot our clients recently purchased to the right. They wanted to make these in to one lovely large space.
We dug out the hedge dividing the gardens and then brought in a huge amount of topsoil to correct the levels and make a seamless join between the 2 gardens.
When two become one..
The turf is laid to create a super lawn big enough to play football on! We also built the brick path
We took out the ancient and overbearing Lleylandii hedge digging out the roots, and replaced it with a Beech one.
A New Deck near Lewes
These clients had seen the work we had carried out in Buxted, and asked us to create a decked seating area for them, and we were only too happy to oblige!
Our clients had roughly measured out the new deck. It was a great position as it linked in nicely with the existing patio, and would be a perfect spot to enjoy the rather amazing view.
As you can see, a stunning view and the deck gives that little extra height to enjoy it.
The new deck complete with raised sleeper planters, which we left ready for our clients to plant up at their request. They now had a lovely spot to sit and enjoy their view, and they have already put it to good use as this is what they had to say:
“Thank you so much for our lovely deck. We had pre-dinner drinks out there this evening and it was perfect. You are an incredible craftsman, thank you”
Turfing and Borders in Crowborough
"The garden looks fantastic and only hope we can keep the lawns looking as perfect as they are now. You really can't realise how much we appreciate all the hard work Rob has put into making it look so, so good. Neighbours and a couple of friends have admired the lawns today. It truly does look great. Thank you!"
These lovely folk got in touch with us last summer when they were just about to start an extension to their home. Six months later the building work was finished and they were ready for us to get going. As you can tell from their glowing testimonial, they are very happy with their spruced up garden!
The front and back lawns had taken a real hammering during the building work and so we stripped off the grass so we could start from scratch.
We cultivated, graded and leveled the ground incorporating a top dressing in the process to add nutrients. This is the back garden nearly ready for the turf.
Turf’s down and both the front and back gardens have a nice and stripy lush lawn.
We made a sleeper border at the back of the garden along the length of the hedge, and around the rhododendron tree to finish the lawn off beautifully.
Landscaping a Small Garden in Hellingly
This was a truly uninspiring and ugly garden and our client was fed up with it. She had a tight budget, but we managed to transform her narrow garden into a gorgeous and welcoming space to enjoy for many years to come. It will also add value to the property and so it’s a win-win situation.
The first job was to build a deck with a raised sleeper bed surround.
Then came the slate patio with a gravel path to give access to the back gate. Further raised beds down the garden make it feel like a private oasis and hid the fence.
Looking down the finished garden towards the back gate. We chose a low maintenance planting scheme so that our client can spend more time enjoying her garden and less time working on it.
Garden Clearance, a New Fence and a New Lawn
So there was a number of huge disused compost heaps, a rotten shed and a saggy old fence, and the clients understandably wanted it all spruced up. We set to work removing all of it and cutting back the overhanging branches leaning on the fence. Once clear we could start erecting the long fence using close-boarded panels set on top of 6” gravel boards.
Last but not least we scraped off the old lawn before cultivating the entire area incorporating topsoil to replenish the nutrients. Once graded, leveled and rolled we sowed grass seed before rolling again. Autumn is a good time of year to sow grass seed as there’s usually plenty of rain and the weather is mild enough to give it a good chance to germinate. Our clients will be looking forward to a lush and well established lawn ready to enjoy next summer.
Garden Design in Burgess Hill
It was very rewarding transforming this patch of grass into an attractive and welcoming space. Our client wanted somewhere to sit out and entertain friends and family, so we built a large deck in a sunny position. We also spruced up the paving, laid a new lawn, and a low-maintenance planting scheme completed the transformation.
She is looking forward to enjoying her garden for many years to come, but the added bonus is that it will also have added value to her property so it’s a win-win situation!
We started back in mid August when the days were still long and sunny, and the grass had turned brown. Hard to imagine that now as we head into Autumn.
And then it rained really hard just after we had scraped off the old lawn and taken up the patio.
We made the sunniest end of the garden into a large decked area for entertaining with raised planters along one side and on the corners. We installed lights in the deck and these are switched on and off with a remote control from inside the house.
The last job was to bring in topsoil and compost to enrich the soil and make the area level before we laid the turf.
We replaced the boring buff coloured slab with Brazilian slate to beautifully complement the timber of the deck and planters. The paler pointing defines the dark slabs.
Looking down the garden to the new lawn. The capping on the raised beds and the gravel channel give a smart finish – the devil’s in the detail as they say!
Landscaping in Isfield
“Rob has transformed my garden form the standard new build turf and a few trees kind of place to a paradise of flowers, woodland area, lush grass and a restful retreat.
Working with Rob on the design and build of my garden was an absolute pleasure. His craftsmanship, attention to detail and his absolute love of gardening was fabulous and inspiring.
I loved the fact that he used local suppliers and a local nursery for all his materials and plants. I now have a restful and tranquil space to sit and chill and admire my garden and visiting wildlife. I would have no hesitation in recommending The Sussex Gardener to anyone looking to transform their outdoor space.”
The house was wonderful, but as with many new builds the garden was really very boring. Our clients asked us to transform it into something stunning to complement the house, and to give them an outdoor space to enjoy for many years to come.
A covenant on the house stipulates that there must be a “wildlife corridor” in the garden, and one of our first jobs was to put up a post and rail fence to protect this space. We then took out the weak, self-seeded saplings and in their place put a selection of plants that bugs find irresistible such as Buddlleia, Foxgloves and Verbena. We tried to continue this bug–boosting theme as much as possible throughout the garden.
We started with a large blank space with the wildlife area along the back of the garden.
The lawn has been stripped and work is underway.
The structure of the garden is beginning to materialise with a long raised bed to zone off the patio and you can just see the top of one or our curved walls. We brought in tons and tons of compost and topsoil to fill the raised beds and to improve the drainage in the lawn, which was back breaking work, but definitely worth it for the long-term health of the plants.
A long raised bed softens the fence and adds interest.
What a welcoming spot. Our client sourced this fantastic hanging chair and we made the patio and curved wall to fit.
The turf is down and the beds planted up in the back garden. You can just see the post and rail fence in the background with the wildlife area behind.
Our client loves horses and we built this pergola in the front garden to set off the statue beautifully. Talk about curb appeal!
A new bed and planting in the front garden with the pergola in the back ground.
A New Bed near Uckfield
This was a very tired and overgrown bed full of woody-stemmed shrubs and weeds. An overhaul was long overdue and it was very rewarding to transform it so we decided to use a purple and white planting scheme.
We had cleared out the old plants and weeds by this point. Once the roots had been taken out and barrow loads of compost had been incorporated into the soil to add nutrients, the ground was ready for planting.
We were given a free reign with the planting and used flowers such as Amaranths for pops of purple and a bank of white Hydrangea at the back which will look stunning when in bloom. Burgundy leaved Heuchera and Cotinus provided a colour contrast and tall grasses added texture. The Magnolia tree had a lovely shape and gave immediate height.
We planted fairly densely, but the plants can be thinned out as they grow into mature shrubs and used elsewhere in the garden.
The final touch was covering the area with a bark mulch to retain moisture in the soil and really show off the plants to their best potential.
Land Drainage in Tunbridge Wells
It was an incredibly wet winter and even the best of lawns have been waterlogged. It’s no surprise then that we had so many enquiries about land drainage throughout March and April. Many lawns will dry out naturally and re-establish themselves during the summer, but this lawn in Tunbridge Wells really was a boggy mess and needed attention.
A herringbone formation of channels carries away surface water from the entire lawn via perforated pipes running in to a nearby mains drain.
After the drainage pipes had been laid and the channels filled with 20mm shingle, the entire area was covered in a layer of topsoil to further improve drainage. Once the turf was laid it looked as good as new.
Landscaping in Bexhill, Part 2
It’s taken over 4 months so far, but it’s all coming together down at the Bexhill garden. We’ll do the “big reveal” when the project is finished in a couple of weeks, but until then here’s a couple of photos of progress so far.
It’s looking very stark and bare at the moment, but it will come to life once the new lawn is laid and the plants go in.
Raised sleeper planters surrounding the new patio. You can also see one of our trademark curved timber walls in the background.
More raised planters, but this time for a vegetable garden.
Raised Beds in Five Ashes
This was a great job to kick-start the year, building raised beds for a herb garden.
We had previously worked for this lovely couple, and this time they wanted a series of raised beds so that they could create a herb garden that could be easily maintained. They asked us to come up with a design, and once this had been agreed we decided on an unused spot in the garden with a sunny position, and set to work.
Before work began.
The varying heights and sizes of the raised beds add interest, and the gravel paths in between allow easy access to weed and pick the herbs. The beds have been filled and left ready for them to be planted up.
We rescued the standard Bay and it was the first thing to go in. This will become the focal point of the garden once it is planted up.
This is what our clients said.
“Thank you so much for your help and creativity! The new garden looks super and we can’t wait to plant it up!”
A Contemporary Patio in Maresfield
This was a modern house with crisp, clean lines and the owners wanted to continue this theme into their garden as well. We built them an enormous contemporary slate patio at the back, and paths all around the house. To keep the minimalist look they like so much, the rest of the garden was left as lawn and hedges.
The first job was to dismantle the existing deck in the back and take up the block paved paths in the front. We could then begin work on digging out into lawn to make a large base for the patio.
We used 600mm x 900mm, straight cut (as opposed to rustic edged) Limestone slabs for a contemporary feel. Our clients needed to be able to access an underground storage tank, but the cover was ugly and out of place. Our solution was to hide it with a removable drain cover inlaid with the same slab, which worked really well.
We installed drainage around the outside of the patio and the paths to prevent them flooding during heavy rain. This was covered with dove grey pebbles to match with the paving and looked very effective.
The paving continued round to the front of the house.
A Garden Revamp in Haywards Heath
“The new garden has drawn numerous compliments since its completion, but best of all was this quote from an old friend of mine: "He (Rob) isn't a gardener. He's an artist!" He is indeed, and for others in desperate need of a garden makeover, I cannot recommend Rob and The Sussex Gardener highly enough".
This was a very neglected and overgrown garden crying out for some love. Well that might be overdramatising it slightly, but as you can see from the photos it was a mess, and it really wasn’t helping the owner to sell his house. He asked us revamp it whilst also giving it some character, and so we set to work.
We had gone in 3 weeks before starting work to spray off all the weeds and brambles to give us this starting point.
After cultivating, grading and leveling the garden we put down turf, which made an instant and huge improvement. We also repaired and re-grouted the patio to give it a new lease of life. The apple tree was rather lovely and so we decided to leave it and tidied it up to give it a better shape.
Raised beds along one side of the garden added some interest and hid the fence. We choose plants that were easy to look after and mulched the beds to deter weeds as our client didn’t have time for gardening.
This was a simple project, but one that was so rewarding as it massively improved the garden and made it a pleasurable space to enjoy.
Curb appeal 0/10! The front garden would have really put off a lot of potential buyers.
A simple scheme with shrubs planted at random positions amongst pebbles looks infinitely better, and is very easy to maintain. The budget didn’t cover a new path and so we fixed and tidied up the existing one.
Landscaping a Large Garden in Crowborough
This was a boring, empty garden and the owners wanted to transform it into a lovely space they could enjoy and nurture for years to come.Their main priorities were to make the garden more private, and to have a patio for socialising with friends and family.They also wanted raised vegetable beds, a good-sized lawn and a new shed. The tricky part was to get these to work altogether which is where we came in...
Landscaping Project in Lindfield
A Sunken Garden, Raised Beds and Deck - now on the 'Our Work' page
More Recent Work
This was one of those iceberg jobs - 90% of the work that went into it can’t be seen, but the 10% that is visible looks great!
Originally this steep garden was made up of an overgrown rockery with some uneven steps leading from the top to the bottom.
The back third of this garden had become a dumping ground and was completely inaccessible to our retired clients. We cleared out the garden and then set to work !
A Makeover in Brighton
This was a lovely old walled garden and our brief was to clear it, create a vegetable patch and make it child and dog friendly. It was very rewarding to transform what was a very overgrown garden into a welcoming, open and functional space for the entire family to enjoy.
We set about clearing out most of the over-sized shrubs to open up the garden, and pruning the trees to get them back under control which immediately improved the garden no end.
We set about clearing out most of the over-sized shrubs to open up the garden, and pruning the trees to get them back under control which immediately improved the garden no end.
With the blank canvas prepared, we started to create the new and improved garden. We built raised vegetable beds with gravel paths running between them and also one leading to the greenhouse.
Then we made a children’s play area at the top of the garden, covering it with a really thick layer of bark chippings for a soft landing! It was great to see the children so excited about their very own new space.
There was plenty of room left for a long raised bed and a new lawn. We lined and filled the bed with compost, leaving it ready for the owners to plant up, as they were keen gardeners. We used a top quality turf for the lawn, as it is hardwearing for all the use it will get and it also looks lovely and lush!
A Garden Makeover in Lindfield, West Sussex
What a great project! The original garden had such an air of neglect it was incredibly rewarding to see it’s gradual transformation into a wonderful outdoor family space.
Our client was delighted with the results, and couldn’t wait to hang his hammock between the posts we had put in for that very purpose. His intention was for some well-earned R&R but whether his children allow him to is another matter!
The first job was to clear all the beds of brambles and weeds and we discovered a few nice shrubs in the process. We also took down a tree and dug out its roots, and by the time we had cultivated the garden it was already looking much better. Once we had laid the turf lawn, planted up the beds and built a new fence at the end of the garden to hide the shed, the makeover was complete.
Garden Transformation in Haywards Heath
Their garden had become so completely overgrown it was a huge burden to our clients and they didn’t know where to start to make it the welcoming outdoor space they desperately wanted. Need I say more? The Sussex Gardener, to the rescue!
The great thing about an overgrown garden is that the transformation is so dramatic and in this case we also created a beautiful, low maintenance haven for them to enjoy. Happy days!
A deep sub-base and waterproof membrane strengthen and prolong the life of the deck.
The 2 decks are down, the planters have been built and filled with topsoil, and the outline of the garden is taking shape..
A stunning low maintenance garden. The path was covered in purple slate to contrast with the pebble beach covering the rest of the garden and the overall look is softened with strategically placed plants. We also built a new shed and the 2nd deck is a great place to catch the evening sun (whilst sipping something icy cold possibly?).
Transformation in Horsham
Our brief was to transform this very sad, neglected and overgrown garden into a usable and attractive space again.
The first job was to dismantle and remove the dilapidated shed and take out all the weeds. Once we had a blank canvas we set to work erecting a new fence and gate as well as building a new path and patio. We also built a base for the new shed and installed it ready for use. The finishing touches were a couple of beds, which we left ready for planting up at our client’s request, and also a turfed lawn to bring the scheme all together.
In between all this activity, our client regularly plied us with tea served in one of the largest mugs we have ever seen. The project took 2 weeks and 50 gallons of tea, and the finished result looked great. I think our client’s testimonial says it all....
"Rob's service has been excellent, from the moment he popped over to measure up the garden and plan a design, to his first day through to completion. He has a very friendly and approachable manner with regular interaction into the project and updating the design if needed. His experience, honest and expert opinion has lead to an amazing transformation of my garden. The materials used are of high quality and the workmanship is excellent. I'm impressed with Rob's attention to detail and ensuring every aspect is done well, along with the finishing touches that make the garden look complete. Thank you Rob, and I'd gladly recommend him and use him in the future."
A Happy Horsham Client
Garden Revamp in Eastbourne
We’ve been away on holiday recently but before we went away, we completed a great project in Eastbourne breathing new life in to a front garden.
It was a perfectly pleasant front garden before but it lacked any form or structure. Having had a chat with our client about what she wanted, it became clear that the lawn was in an inconvenient position for mowing and she wanted it removed. We suggested a coastal theme for the planting scheme which she really liked and gave us the go ahead. The photos, as they say, speak more than words here.
Woodland Management Between Uckfield and Heathfield
It has been quite a few years since we last looked after any woodland for clients as we have been concentrating on the landscaping side of the business. However, when we were asked on to this project we jumped at it because it’s an extremely satisfying thing helping to regenerate woodland; or putting it another way – one man, a chainsaw and his bonfire, what’s not to like?
So just over 4 weeks ago at the tail end of the Rains, we started on the first phase of a 3-year rolling woodland management program. The wood had been neglected for years and was over run with skinny Silver Birch and bracken. It took 9 days to thin out about an acre of the weaker trees to open up areas around existing Beech and Oak, and allow light to flood the woodland floor. Most of the stacks of logs will be used for firewood, but we left one or two piles to become home to a wide variety of bugs and animals. We will do the same to the remaining 2 acres of woodland over the next 2 years.
This is just the start of a long-term regeneration project and our aim is to transform a scrappy wood so that in 50 years or so, with continued management, the remaining trees will be tall and strong and the Oak and Beech saplings we planted will have matured, and this will be a beautiful deciduous wood for future generations to enjoy. Now that really is satisfying!