Mum transforms dark garden into a sun-trap paradise for just £300

They were quoted a whopping £5,000 from the pros

A savvy Mum transformed her garden space into a dreamy outdoor living room, complete with a palette coffee table for just £300.

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When the sun streamed into her garden, Melanie Boyden from Shoreham-by-Sea realised that her family were always left in the dark as their decking was in the shade.

'We had a large garden and had originally put our 14ft trampoline in the back corner and we had decking built that went round the side of our house,' Melanie explained to Ideal Home.

garden with trampoline and hanging swing

(Image credit: Future PLC \Melanie Boyden)

'The garden was east facing so the part of the garden where the trampoline got all the sunshine in the afternoon whilst where our seating area was on the decking would be completely in shadow by 2pm.

'When lockdown came and we had that glorious sunshine, we realised we were putting our camp chairs up next to the trampoline to get the most of the sun and not using our lovely garden furniture that was sat on the decking.'

In April, after being quoted a whopping £5,000 from builders to lay decking or a large patio in the sunshine, Mel took matters into her own hands with just a £300 budget.

garden makeover with yellow door paving stone and potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC /Melanie Boyden)

'We ripped up all our decking and levelled the ground underneath so we could move the trampoline, dug up all the grass and plants that used to be under the trampoline and levelled the ground,' Mel explained.

The mum laid membrane (£40), and poured chippings from Gravelmaster (£198) on top; then she placed paving slabs she already owned to create a fairytale-like winding path to the shed.

'Then we moved our garden furniture to this corner, I got some festoon lights from Dunelm which I hung from the trees and added all our plants and soft furnishings to the sofas,' she added.

blue garden corner makeover with hanging swing wooden chair and sofa setset

(Image credit: Future PLC /Melanie Boyden)

'We used the pallets from Gravelmaster to make a table. I painted the fence in Cuprinol Iris (£25) and we had some paint leftover so I used this to paint the pallets,' she said.

'I then bought some tiles from Wickes (£25) and used Gorilla glue to glue them to the top of the pallet. It's probably my favourite and most used thing in the garden!'

Now, Mel and her family cosy up around a fire pit, making S’mores and watching films on a projector screen in their very own version of paradise. And Mel’s word of advice for those wishing to spruce up their own garden?

'Always try to DIY,' she said. 'Me and my husband were complete novices when it came to the garden and until then, didn't really have much interest in it.

'But, because of lockdown and prices spiralling, we decided to do it ourselves and so glad we did!

'There are so many tutorials out there and advice, don't be afraid to give it a go. We now do everything ourselves and love it.'

Related: 8 ways to cut the cost of a garden makeover – expert tips for paying less on landscaping, plants and more

You can follow Mel’s green-fingered interior journey over on her Instagram page - but try not to get too jealous.

Emmie Harrison-West is a freelance journalist that lives in London with her husband and any cat that walks through the door. A fierce advocate for women's rights and good beer, Emmie specialises in women's lifestyle, travel, and culture. She has had words in Cosmo, Stylist, and Time Out, as well as most national newspapers, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @emmieehw.