Kalas Garden

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Before Work Started

Kala asked me sort out her garden. A shrub here, a tree there? No, its a complete garden makeover.

Here's what it looked like before I started :

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And here's the plan for what's to come :

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Day 1

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Lots of measuring, lots of planning, a couple of sketches, and even a bit of maths (trigonometry). Hammered pegs into the lawn for the two loci of the ellipse, and then used a washing line attached to the the two loci to trace out the outline of lawn.

One of the pegs couldn't be banged in at first - just 3 cm below the lawn, I found many bricks (neatly arranged). I'm amazed that the lawn survived with such little soil beneath it.

Next, the fun part... Wielding my pick axe - its the first time I've use it (I used a wooden handled one previously, the glass fibre one is springy!) Smashed up most of the concrete on the left of the garden, and lifted the crazy paving (which had no base, it was laid directly onto soil).

Day 2

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Buying the goods without a car is a little tricky. I could have had it delivered but that would have caused a delay, and been annoying (I don't want everything to arrive together). So I asked my mum for the use of her car. Thanks Mum!

In two trips, I bought 170 bricks, 8 sand and 2 cement, as well as 10 decking boards.

Back to the hard graft - digging a trench for the lawn edge, and filling it in with hardcore. Didn't get too much filled in though - smashing concrete with a small hammer isn't fun :-(

Day 3

Wow what a scorcher! I thought summer was all but over.

Mum did the chauffeuring, and we made two more trips to Wickes. This time for the wooden decking (as the special offer ends tomorrow).

Day 4

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Didn't feel up to doing the hardcore and cement work (hands still aching), so I switched to doing the decking. Getting the curves correct is tricky. Lots of prep work, and then lots of careful measuring, with an odd bit of trial and error.

Didn't get as much done as I would have liked. Half of the joists in place.

Day 5

Day of rest.

Day 6

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Back to the good stuff - the decking. Screwed it down to the concrete, and added the deck boards cut to shape. It took a long time to get the curve marked out correctly, but worth it (I hate angles or flat spots along curves).

Day 7

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Played with my new sledge hammer breaking up the old path and concrete to make a base for the path/lawn edging.

Started laying the path/lawn edging. It took quite a while to get going, sorting out the height, and the angles of the bricks is harder than you might imagine.

Day 8

Slow progress. Continued the path/lawn edging. Also planned and started to build a step from the decking (the decking is just a little to high to step onto in comfort without a step).

Day 9

Started the day taking it easy, as I felt a cold coming on. After lunch felt right as rain, but slightly disheartened to realise that I'm only at the half way mark for the hard landscaping.

Day 10

A start of a new week, and I soon relised that I haven't got enough sand and cement, so after digging the trench and filling with rubble, I switched to doing the second half o the decking. The frame is complete, not screwed down though.

Day 11

A shopping day only (plus a pub lunch with the driver!)

Day 12

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Nearly completed the edging (just half of the decking step to go). Started adding the raised bed walls. The slabs are a little slow to cut, and I need to do a lot of them!

Day 12

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Started the day with a trip to Wickes. Bought some slabs for the raise bed walls. The were so heavy, I didn't want to break the car, so we took two trips to get them back.

Continued with the decking. I took Nalin's advise and changed the way that the planks are laid. Now they will all be pointing in the same direction, rather than being symmetric.

Day 13

Mixed up concrete to complete the lawn edge, the garage step and continue the raise bed wall. Everything needed cutting, and my cutting disk was blunt. Ahhh! I didn't have the special tool either. I phoned Nalin, and he was kind enough to waste a hour or so to drop the tool and spare blade round. Thanks Nalin.

Day 14

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Demolished the remainder of the unwanted concrete near the house and tidied away the rubble.

Cut most of paving slabs which form the raise bed walls (the new cutting disc cuts through like butter compared to the old one). The prepared the ground to accommodate them. The place looks a mess, but it feels like I'm nearing the end. Need to order the soil soon.

Day 15

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Started to dig over the lawn, removing the weeds, and putting removing the top couple of inches, and adding it to the bottom of the raised beds' top soil.

Checked the weather forecast before mixing the concrete for the raised bed walls. Light rain possible. Didn't get as much done as I wanted before it turned dark and overcast. Switched to laying the block paving in the garage step. Before I'd finished levelling the sand rain stopped play (and it wasn't light rain - bloody forecasters - I hope the concrete won't be too adversly affected).

Day 16

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Mum wanted some stuff from Wickes, so I took the opportunity to stock up on sand and cement.

Day 17

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Finished the garage step. Almost every brick needed cutting, and it took quite a while. My measuring/marking skills aren't too good, and I probably made twice as many cuts as I needed to.

Dug over a little more of the lawn. I found another chunk of concrete just below the surface. A hole for a rotary clothes line, or umbrella. Its right over the likely path of the sewer pipe, so I'm not keen to smash it!

Day 18

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Started the second half of the raised beds, and cut the remainder of the slabs.

Day 19

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Haven't updated this diary for a while, so the next few days may be a little wrong :-(

Completed the raised bed's borders

Day 20

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Took delivery of the tote bag of topsoil. You can see the depth of soil required. Its over twenty wheelbarrows full, and it was only enough to do half of the garden. Ordered another bag.

Dug over the remainder of the lawn (apart from a tiny bit).

Day 21

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Went garden centre shopping with Kala. Bought lots of shrubs from Alton's. Didn't buy the trees, as they wouldn't have fit in her car.

Day 22

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Went back to Hill Crest Nurseries to buy the dwarf apple tree. Planted the tree, and other shrubs along the left hand side. Couldn't do any more, before the next load of soil arrives.

Started laying the decking's step.

Day 23

Took delivery of the second bag of topsoil. They said they would phone 1 hour before delivery. They didn't, and it was very lucky that I was there to take delivery.

It was easier to cart it into the garden. Getting fitter, or just taking it easier?

Still not quite enough top soil. Only a few extra regular bags needed though. I'll use those to level the lawn. (Digging up the very weedy lawn took off some height. Also, where the old crazy paving was, quite a bit of soil is needed).

Started levelling out the lawn, and doing general tidy up, bagging up rubble and the mound of old lawn turfs/weeds.

Day 24

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The fun part continues... Planting out the right hand side. The weather is getting colder, and I want to sow the grass seed today, but I can't do that until the planting is complete. The stepping stones also need to be layed (otherwise Kala wouldn't be able to get to her car). So there's a lot to do, even for two of us (my Mum was giving a helping hand).

Day 25

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A quick visit a couple of weeks later to pick up my tools, and to screw down the final pieces of the decking near the side gate.

The grass has started to appear, and the weather forecast is still mild, so it should all is well. Its getting well watered (its been raining nearly every day!)


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Measurements and Estimated Costs

The garden is roughly 6 meters wide and 9.4 metres long.


Need about at least 30 x 2.4m boards at £3.40 each = £102.

If joists are 600mm apart, then across, we need 12 x 2m. In the other direction, we need 6m (bottom) + 8m (top) + 6m (middle).

If the joists are in 3m lengths, that gives us 12 across, and the off-cuts will be enough for the middle. 2 for the bottom and 3 for the top.

A total of 17 x 3m lengths.


Only 1 brick wide, and the ellipse's edge is 16m long. So we need 16 / 0.10 bricks, plus some for the garage end.

160 bricks.

I forgot to include paving between the decking and the grass (which is vital for easy mowing).

The paving also includes a mini wall to raise the flower bed up a little from the level of the lawn.

To match up with the decking, I'm going to use decking boards. Each board needs to be 40 cm long, and are 14 cm wide. So to got round 16m I need 45m of wood, which is 20 planks of 2.4m.


There are approx 15 m2 of beds. Each bag of slate covers 0.4m2, so 37 bags at £5.20

Total cost £192.40

Change of plan, we'll use bark chippings instead of slate.


Day 2


  • Sharp Sand 8 @ £1.40 = £11.20
  • Cement 2 @ £4.16 = £8.32
  • Block Paving 166 @ £0.30 = £49.80
  • Cream Paint 1 @ £9.78 = £9.78
  • Deckboard 10 @ £3.32 = £33.20

Day 2 Total : £112.30

Day 3


  • Deckboard 22 @ £3.32 = £73.04
  • Deckboard 28 @ £3.32 = £92.96
  • 3" Screws 1 @ £14.18 = £14.18
  • Deck Screws 1 @ £13.70 = £13.70
  • Large Joist 14 @ £7.20 = £100.80
  • Small Joist 2 @ £5.15 = £10.30
  • Delivery charges (a meal and a drink for my mum) = £10

Day 3 Total : £314.98

Day 5


  • 4" Screws 1 @ £9.00 = £9.00

Day 5 Total : £9.00

Day 6


  • Paint Brushes 1 @ £7.98 = £7.98

Day 6 Total : £7.98

Day 7


  • Kerb 30 @ £1.61 = £48.30
  • Grey Slabs 10 @ 1.75 = £17.50

Day 7 Total : £65.80

Day 11


  • Sand 11 @ £1.40 = £15.40
  • Cemnt 2 @ £4.16 = £8.32
  • Garden Wire 1 @ £3.91 = £3.91
  • Jigsaw blade 1 @ £5.49 = £5.49
  • Raw Plugs 1 @ £2.73 = £2.73
  • Ground cover 2 @ £7.19 = £14.38
  • Block Paving 60 @ £0.30 = £18.00
  • Kerb 10 @ £1.61 = £16.10
  • Paving Slab 4 @ £6.49 = £25.96

Day 11 Total : £110.29

Day 12


  • Top Soil 10 @ £2.92 = £29.20
  • Paving Slabs 11 @ £6.49 = £71.39

Day 12 Total : £100.59

Halfway Total

First Half Total : £720.94

Day 16


  • Paving Slab 1 @ £6.49 = £6.49
  • Paving Slab (damaged) 1 @ £5.00 = £5.00
  • Sand 5 @ £1.40 = £7.00
  • Cemement 1 @ £4.16 = £4.16
  • Deckboard 1 @ £4.99 = £4.99

Day 16 Total : £27.64

Day 17


  • Deckboard 1 @ £4.99 = £4.99
  • Sharp Sand 5 @ £1.40 = £7.00
  • Builders Sand 2 @ 1.43 = £2.86


  • Plum Slate 2 @ £5.99 = £11.98
  • Bark 3 @ £6.49 with £2 off = £17.47
  • Stepping Stones 15 @ £4.99 = £74.85

Day 16 Total : £119.15

Day 18


  • Ericacious Compost £5.49
  • Compost = £4.49
  • Top Soil 4 @ £5.49 (with one free) = £16.47
  • Bark 3 @ £6.49 (with £2 off) = £17.47

Day 16 Total : £43.92

Unknown Day Purchases

(Couldn't find the receipts)

  • Dwarf Apple Tree £30
  • Cherry Tree £10

Unknown Day Total : £40.00

Second Part Subtotal

Second Half Total : £230.71

Kala's Purchases

  • About £120 on various shrubs
  • About £10 on Bulbs
  • About £180 on two giant bags of top soil

Kala's Purchases Total : £310

Project Grand Total