Savvy homeowner saved £950 turning her rotting decking into a tranquil gazebo

She's now the proud owner of a super-stylish garden chill-out area
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  • Turning a corner of rotting decking into a tranquil gazebo is no mean feat, but this homeowner managed it – and on a budget, too!

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    Louise Tunstall, a service delivery manager, has transformed what was once a raised corner of decking into an undercover area with twinkly lights, seating and plants galore. Louise and her husband cut costs by installing the gazebo themselves, saving an estimated £950 with the DIY build! So, what was it that prompted the pair to carry out the work?

    ‘We had some raised decking in a corner of our garden, which we used for barbecues,’ Louise told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk, ‘but over the past 12 years it had started to look tired and worn.’

    ‘When we started to look at repairing it, the wooden frame underneath was rotten,’ she continues, ‘so we took advantage of not going on holiday in 2020 (due to COVID) and used that money to redesign the whole corner of the garden instead.’

    Let’s take a look at how the couple went about it…

    Garden gazebo DIY build

    Before

    Image credit: Louise Tunstall

    After noticing the decking was rotting, it was full steam ahead for Louise, who wanted to utilise that corner and create a space where the couple could relax, dine and enjoy the sun. ‘There was a lot of clearing out and trips to the rubbish tip as we got rid of the rotting decking,’ says Louise.

    ‘We worked on the fence, replacing four damaged panels and concreting in 20 new posts to support the new decking. This was hard work as the ground was very hard and we had to remove a lot of old posts that had been concreted in.’

    Louise tried to remove as few plants as possible, as she wanted the design to blend into the garden and look like it has always been there. ‘This corner gets the sun later in the afternoon and early evening, so that was in the back of my mind,’ she says.

    The first step was to source supplies and Louise bought fence panels and posts from Earith Timber, decking boards and bollards online and sleepers from UK Timber for a total of £660. Next up was the lighting and electrics, which consisted of armoured cabling, a junction box, a slot light and bulbs for £400.

    ‘Getting hold of materials during lockdown was an interesting challenge, especially as wood was in short supply,’ says Louise. ‘But we managed to find everything we needed in the end. While we sourced equipment, I got stuck into preparation and planning – my particular area of interest!’

    After

    Image credit: Louise Tunstall

    The project took three months to complete but the finished result couldn’t be more worth it. ‘Laying down the decking was a project in itself, as the total area is 23 sq m,’ says Louise. ‘A lot of digging and manual work was also required to build the new wooden frame of the gazebo using the flatpack kit. This was probably the hardest part as the instructions could have been better!’

    Louise’s husband stepped in to lay electrical cables and connect them to the distribution board, while Louise replaced the bollard light bulbs with LED lighting. ‘The labour costs when installing the electrics was free, as my husband is an electrician,’ she says.

    ‘We landscaped the surrounding area with sleepers, designing and cutting them where needed to make each one individual,’ she adds. ‘The soil was transported from the allotment to the garden, at which point I was able to do my favourite part – the planting!’

    Image credit: Louise Tunstall

    At Dunelm, Louise picked up cushions, shelving and a ladder stand for £100, before heading to Bedfordshire Garden Buildings for their gazebo kit priced at £1,400. The plants were sourced from B&Q, the local market and Dobbies for a total of £100, and that’s where the expenses ended.

    ‘I had some bits already, such as the seating, and we had compost from our allotment,’ she says. Check out our best garden furniture guide to help snap up best buys for your next garden update.

    Image credit: Louise Tunstall

    Adding in the soft furnishings and finishing touches was the final step and the couple are thrilled with how it looks. ‘Overall it took a lot of effort but we love the end result,’ says Louise. ‘The gazebo gives us privacy and shelter so we can use it all year round, and the area is now really unique. I’m pleased with how it blends into the existing garden, too.’

    At night, the gazebo comes alive with outdoor lighting illuminating the space. I’m happy I managed to do it myself,’ says Louise, ‘and this is a career I’d like to get into more. I wanted the challenge – renovating property and gardens is a real passion of mine.’

    Related: See how this dark kitchen was given a light and bright makeover for just £100

    What do you think of Louise’s gazebo build? Is it something you’d like to give a go yourself?

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