Garden makeover project by Bland Design

With the recent easing of Covid restrictions here in the UK I thought it was about time I got my garden ready for guests now that we’re finally allowed to meet up! Before I started, I only had an old table with a collapsed top and no chairs. All it takes is a few DIY projects and some help from ManoMano to totally transform your space ready for entertaining… That’s the plan at least!

The garden before its makeover
The garden before its makeover

I’ve split the garden makeover into 6 mini projects:

  1. DIY Garden Mirror
  2. Tips for painting wood outdoors
  3. Using arches to structure your garden
  4. DIY Garden Table 
  5. Setting up a pizza oven
  6. Making it comfy

1. Garden makeover: DIY Mirror 

The garden makeover features a DIY mirror
The garden makeover features a DIY mirror

Materials & tools

My garden is pretty small, so adding a mirror is a fun way to add a bit of dimension to the space (just be mindful of its placement so you don’t have any accidents with birds flying into it). For mine I made it to go behind the metal arbour seat against my fence to create a fun optical illusion that the garden extends further.

This one is surprisingly simple; cut the marine ply to the size you want (I left a border around mine and painted the edge black) and glue down the mirrors with the solvent free adhesive, making sure to apply even lines of glue.

Place the mirrors down firmly and leave it lying flat while the glue sets for a few hours and you’re done! To keep it in place I used a couple of wood screws to attach the top to the fence and the base is resting on the floor to take the weight.

2. Garden makeover: Painting Wood Outdoors

So, I’m slightly obsessed with painting everything black, however you can choose any colour… But before you grab your brushes, don’t make the same mistake that I did last year! I painted this bench a year ago and it’s peeling already because I didn’t sand it, but I’ve fixed it now!

Materials & tools

The bench from last year that hadn't been sanded down
The bench from last year that hadn’t been sanded down
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover
The bench is a key part to the garden makeover

I also painted the fence and raised planter, these are made from ‘sawn’ wood which is rough and easily holds on to the paint, which is handy, along with the sawn timber that I used to border the beds around the garden. The wood for the borders was actually repurposed from the old boiler tank in my loft but you can use this timber for the same thing. All you have to do is dig a little trench for them to rest in once you’ve painted/stained them.

Painting the wood
Painting the wood

My pro tips for painting wood outside:

  • If you’re repainting something that’s peeling (like my bench) you’ll need to give it a rub down with a wire brush and then a light sand to give the new paint something to grab on to
  • Smooth unfinished wood needs lightly sanding and possibly priming (if your chosen paint brand recommends it) 
  • Multiple thin coats with a very light sanding in between will last much longer than one thick coat. It’s more effort initially but totally worth it!
  • Wood outdoors will usually need retreating/touching up every couple of years, that’s just something I’ve come to accept

3. Garden makeover: Structures 

I quite like the slightly overgrown/woodland garden look, although it can look a little wild… In order to give the garden a bit of interest, I used simple metal arches to help structure the area. (Last year I build a massive pergola on my patio – if you you’re wanting to do something a bit more dramatic take a look at the blog article I did.)

Add some structure to your garden makeover
Add some structure to your garden makeover

I already had one arch next to the raised bed (which I really like) so why not add more! Along the fence where there aren’t any trellis I added a set of green arches to eventually grow climbing plants around. This will give the garden a bit more privacy, it’s really simple but effective – and they just stab into the ground!

And as if that wasn’t enough, directly in front of the original arch, I used an arched metal arbour seat in front of the arched mirror I made (I think that’s enough arches now). 

Although for the arbour I did end up putting down some spare slabs so it didn’t sink into the ground (I saved some old ones that I lifted from my patio last year) and it was easier than I thought it would be, a couple of bags of building sand and a spirit level was all I used to get them laid nice and flat!

Garden makeover step by step
Garden makeover step by step

4. Garden makeover: DIY table 

You can see from the ‘before’ photo that my old tabletop was a wreck (I used the wrong wood when I tiled it) but the metal frame was still usable, although you can do this with any wood topped table really – just make sure to prepare/paint the wood suitably! If this is the first time you’ve met me you won’t know that I’m a bit obsessed with gold leaf (I’m an artist and gilder) so that had to be a part of my project, but of course you can just paint yours.

Garden table - before
Garden table – before

Tools & materials:

If you’re starting with a readymade table then you can skip this step, but for mine I needed to cut a new top from marine ply, and sand the edges smooth once cut to size (I did cut a hole for an umbrella using a flat drill bit from my set. I also need some seating for my table so I got 2 metal benches that came with untreated wood tops which were perfect for painting, and a pair of black rattan chairs by VidaXL to match.

Using the same paint I’ve used for everything in the garden I painted the table and bench tops (2 thin coats sanding in between) and once dry I got to work on my antique gold effect. At this point you could paint a design/stripes/stencil you name it – if you want to see more of my gold nonsense check out my Instagram.

Once you’re happy with your look then you need to seal it, otherwise it’s going to be a little rough and hard to clean, using a clear varnish. You can get clear outdoor varnish in different finishes, but my preference is gloss, just make sure the paint underneath is completely dry before you varnish anything! And voila! You’ve got a stunning bespoke seating area that’s hard wearing and easy to clean.

5. Garden makeover: Pizza Oven

We all like pizza of some kind (and if you don’t then we can’t be friends) but it’s a bit daunting to dive right in to using a pizza oven! This pizza oven from Outsunny is a great place to start for a beginner like me.  It’s not huge or permanent and there is no need for gas canisters as it’s a solid fuel burner.

Pizza oven from Outsunny
Pizza oven from Outsunny

It needs a stable and level base of course, and since I was putting mine on the grass, I set a few concrete slabs down with sand underneath just like I did with the arbour mentioned above. Once that’s all done it’s ready to light! I will admit that I burned one… 

6. Garden makeover: Making it comfy 

British weather can be a bit unpredictable as we know, so to make the space a bit more comfortable and cosy when the sun isn’t out I added a table to bio ethanol fire, some solar lights, some solar fairy lights – and of course a couple of rugs and throws.

And to top it all off… Giant bean bags. I mean who didn’t dream of having one as a kid! 

Garden makeover project by Bland Design
Black rattan chairs from VidaXL

So, there we have it – now I just need to scrub the paint off of my hands, rally up my friends and have a little gathering in my new lovely garden!

Did you enjoy this article from Bland Design on how to do a garden makeover in 6 easy steps? Why not read our tutorial on a DIY solar lamp made from pallets or even our pizza oven buying guide!

Are you doing a garden makeover too? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Even if you’ve never grown so much as a sprout, taking up vegetable gardening isn’t as hard as it sounds.  First of all, you’ll need information about the soil in your area and even the plot of land you will be using. You can do some detective work by checking with your local council, talking to neighbours, joining a local gardening group or searching online via a soil map []. Try to find out as much as possible about the surrounding soil, plants and fruit-bearing plants and trees. Even weeds will tell you a lot about your future garden’s soil type. You should also look into local fruit tree varieties, insects, animals and birds. While you will want to encourage biodiversity, you will need to know how to prevent your garden from being eaten to shreds!

Your soil: the key to successful vegetable gardening

One way to learn about your soil is to take a sample and test it for yourself. You’ll need a spade to dig and a pail to hold the soil sample. There are different kinds of soil, such as chalky, clay, loamy, peaty, sandy and silty. Knowing which one you will be planting on is crucial for choosing the best vegetables.
That said, there are things you can do to change the texture and structure of your soil. For example, clay soil is fertile, but it’s also cold, wet and heavy to work. You must work it differently if you want to grow a range of seasonal vegetables.
Larger tools, such as a tiller or a soil miller, are normally used when you are working your soil for the first time.

To lighten heavy soil, you can add a bit of sand, wood ash and even calcium. Sandy soil, on the other hand, requires a great deal more watering and maintenance in the beginning. But tilling will be easier and you can plant earlier than you would with clay soils, which take longer to warm up.

Natural factors to consider before planting

When getting started with vegetable gardening, it’s important to think about the location of the garden, including its orientation in relation to the sun, prevailing wind, exposure and any trees planted close by. 

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Henry & Co.

Some fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers and aubergines, need a decent amount of sun, whereas others prefer cooler, wet environments, such as chard and certain lettuce varieties.  Certain plant varieties need shade to grow or even protection from the wind. It’s also worth thinking about a greenhouse for your garden. Not only do they extend how long you can grow your crops, but they are also great for protecting edible plants from being eaten by local wildlife.

Another crucial point to consider is choosing varieties that will adapt to your garden’s environmental constraints. Choose fruits and vegetables that grow quickly and are hardy enough to withstand disease and pests.

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening

DIY permaculture vegetable gardening
© Sincerely Media

Permaculture gardening—from “permanent agriculture”—is a style of gardening that aims to build a harmonious, self-sufficient ecosystem. It usually involves creating square or rectangular plant beds using wood from pallets, as long as the wood is free of chemicals or other surface treatments. You can also use a no-dig method known as “lasagne gardening,” which produces a rich soil full of biodiversity. It’s simple to achieve by alternating layers of green organic matter, such as grass clippings or shredded leaves, with layers of brown organic matter, such as dead leaves, plant matter, wood chips or even cardboard. The method breathes new life into decomposition and provides compost for future planting. Ensure you never walk on lasagne gardens or you will compact the layers and kill off the micro-organisms aerating your soil.

Plan out your planting

Now it’s time to design the layout for your garden. 
Larger plants must be put at the back, while smaller ones should go at the front where they can get enough sun and be protected by the larger plants. It’s also important to mix crops, as this makes it harder for harmful parasites and fungi to take over. 

Plan out your planting
© Peng Wang

Feel free to get creative by mixing flowers and herbs into your garden bed as well. For example, lavender, hyssop and thyme can be used for many purposes such as herbal teas, baking and seasoning.

Try to scatter your seeds somewhat loosely in the prepared soil instead of planting in a straight line. Another tip is something called “companion planting”. In essence, some plants work well together, while others can be mutually harmful. For example, potatoes and tomatoes, which belong to the nightshade family, cannot be grown together. It’s important to find the best companions for them when you want them to thrive in your garden.

Vegetable gardening guide for beginners
© Markus Spiske

Important first steps to get your vegetable garden started

When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, the first steps are the easiest. Start by weeding your vegetable patch or bed with a hoe. After cleaning up your plot, you can choose to leave the weeds you’ve pulled on top of the crop to provide minerals through decomposition. However, if the weeds are seedlings or dropping many seeds, you will want to compost them instead or they will keep popping back up.  

Next, lightly rake your soil and start sowing seeds or planting. Some of the most popular things to grow in spring are lettuce leaves, such as lamb’s lettuce and spinach. 

When the season changes, you just need to repeat these steps for the fruits and vegetables that grow best from summer until autumn. 

© Jonathan Hanna

As a general rule, avoid planting the same crops in the same place every year. And by planting flowers in your vegetable garden, you’ll be providing an important source of food and sustenance for pollinating insects and birds. What’s more, they’ll make sure your garden isn’t overrun by hungry aphids and caterpillars! 

Prepare the soil for your vegetable garden
© Kelly Neil 

Last but not least, all your crops should be mulched. The aim is to work the soil as little as possible while harvesting as much as possible. Mulching allows you to keep moisture in your soil, so you won’t need to water the plants as much. It not only saves time but is also better for the planet!

Grow tomatoes in the garden
© Priscilla du Preez

Happy gardening and bon appétit!

© Nick Artman

Did you enjoy this guide on beginner vegetable gardening? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our article on how to sow a lawn from seed or seeing our 5 tips on outdoor living space design.

Are you taking up vegetable gardening? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

The summer season is knocking at the door and after a wet winter, which made us spend longer hours indoors than we would have liked, we cannot wait to head outside and spend more time in the garden. If you have a garden or a terrace, you will already be envisioning yourself enjoying an al fresco aperitif with your family, or spending long hours outside catching up with friends and enjoying the good weather. So, don’t waste a second, it’s time to get to work! And at ManoMano we would like to offer you different decoration suggestions and ideas for creating an outdoor living space you’ll love.

Outdoor living space design ideas
Outdoor living space design ideas

Before you get started with the design of your outdoor area, you need to carefully study the space and choose the furniture to suit its specific dimensions. To get the most of it, ideally you would include a dining area as well as a relaxation area, or bring the two together if necessary.

Here are our top 5 tips on outdoor living space design:

  1. If your outdoor space is large, the ideal option is to include a dining table and chair set for at least six people, as well as comfortable sofas or armchairs to enjoy a nice evening. If the space is on the smaller side, you can always opt for an extendable table and folding chairs, which won’t take up a lot of space, but can allow you to host a few guests. A parasol or pergola can be a great way to create a shaded area. They can both protect us from the sun in the day time, as well as from the cold when evenings get chilly.
  1. A chill-out area, essential. They are ideal in the porch, the area near the pool, or a corner in the garden. Rattan armchairs, natural wood sofas or deck chairs will create a space for relaxation. If you have a small terrace, you can opt for fringed canvas hammocks, which can easily be put up and taken down. Another option is to put a hanging chair in a corner of the terrace.  They take up no space and provide your outdoor area with a summery and boho look.
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space
Natural furniture adds a sense of calm to your outdoor living space (C) Edvin Johannson
  1. Side and coffee tables, the perfect complement. Whether they are in your chill-out area surrounded by sofas and armchairs or next to your loungers, they are as aesthetic as they are practical when you want to serve an aperitif and enjoy those magical sunsets typical of the summer season. They are also quite useful in your gazebo or dining area, to leave extra drinks, glasses or dishes.
  1. Good lighting, essential. Lighting is a great way to set the ambiance, but in order to achieve this, you have to carefully study the location of the lights and the effect you want them to have. Size, distribution, design and intensity are key factors to consider when choosing the lighting for your outdoor area. It is therefore essential to distinguish between lights whose function it is to illuminate and mood lighting. Both are absolutely essential if you want to create a cosy and stylish area. While you can use wall lights or lamps hanging from the gazebo to provide enough light at night, indirect lights will create a magical atmosphere around you: fairy lights, spotlights with indirect lighting in strategic corners of the garden, or solar floor lamps can be your allies when decorating your outdoor area. 
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
Lighting is great for outdoor ambiance (C) Hannah Busing
  1. Small details you will fall in love with. Once you have the basic furniture in place, it’s time to fill your garden with small details that will provide both originality and style. We recommend that you opt for a natural tone palette and light textiles such as cotton or linen, with smooth textures and vibrant patterns reminiscent of the sea. Big candles for the table and lanterns on the floor, light blankets for chilly nights, and natural fibre ottomans, and last but not least, bamboo or jute rugs to frame and delimit the different areas.  

1. Festoon fairy lights 2. Hanging hammock 3. Jute rug 4. Retractable pergola

With the help of these handy tips, you will create a fantastic outdoor area in which to enjoy unique moments this summer. 

Are you designing your own outdoor living space? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Article written by Paula Silvagni

Passionate about interior design, Paula is a deco-coach and Instagrammer (@paula_silvagni_interiors). From her Instagram page, she shows the latest trends to decorate every corner of your home with style.

Would you like more privacy in your terrace or garden? An outdoor privacy screen through the form of a trellis planter is a great option when you want to visually separate different areas in a decorative and practical way. This tutorial will show you how to build your own outdoor privacy screen in 5 easy steps.

If you are wondering about how to divide a space, either temporarily or permanently, in order to either make more efficient use of it, hide a specific area, or make it more private, a privacy screen is the solution you are looking for.

You can use it both indoors and outdoors, and it is an ideal option for your terrace, balcony, living room or even the office. It will also add a touch of elegance to the space, especially if it includes a wooden planter, as in the case we are showing you here.

Outdoor privacy screen: Tools and Materials

Cost, time and difficulty

If you have all the necessary tools, the total cost of materials is about £40, depending on the size of the trellis or privacy screen.

It will only take you one morning or afternoon to build this planter with trellis. The level of difficulty is low, as it only requires some DIY practice. It is, for this very reason, the perfect DIY project for beginners or those with little DIY experience.

Build an outdoor privacy screen step by step

The main advantage of this trellis planter as a privacy screen is the fact that the wood has been pre-treated to be used both indoors and outdoors.

In addition, it is not very heavy, making it easy to move, although if you prefer, you can attach castor wheels to move it even more easily. Another idea is to put a few of these trellis planters in a row in order to divide a large space in an elegant way. Here is the step by step guide to build this wooden trellis planter.

Step 1 – Cut the pieces

First, cut the pine wood boards and slats, either with the mitre saw or with the hand saw and mitre box. These are the different pieces you will need:

DIY garden trellis planter
To begin, cut the pieces
  • 4 boards measuring 60 x 10 x 1 cm and 4 boards measuring 20 x 10 x 1 for the planter
  • 1 piece of plywood measuring 60 x 20 x 0.5 cm
  • 4 slats measuring 25 x 3.4 x 2.2 cm for the planter’s legs, 2 slats measuring 60 x 3.4, x 2.2 cm and another 2 measuring 16 x 3.4 x 2.2 cm for the top part of the planter

Step 2 – Assemble the pieces of the planter

Next, assemble the pieces that make up the planter. In order to do this, follow these steps:

Glue the pieces of the outdoor privacy screen together
Bring the pieces together
  1. Glue the 25 cm long strips that make up the legs.
  2. Nail two 20 cm long wooden boards to one side of the legs and another two 60 cm long boards to the other side.
  3. Nail the plywood board measuring 60 x 20 cm to the bottom.

Step 3 – Protect the wood

Protect the wood for outdoor usage
Protect the wood

The next step will be to protect and stain the wood. This type of finish is ideal for terrace and outdoor furniture, as it allows the wood to breathe as well as regulate its moisture. This prevents it from cracking due to the contraction and expansion movements typical of this material.

For this tutorial we have used a wood stain with a slight green hue that highlights the wood’s grain, and is close to the colour of the trellis that will be attached to the planter.

Step 4 – Apply the finishing touches to the edges

Next, you will need to apply the finishing touches to the top and bottom edges of the planter. In order to do this, glue the slats measuring 60 cm and 16 cm long, and then fix them with the nailer.

The finishing touches to the outdoor privacy screen
The finishing touches

Then apply a water-based wood varnish suitable for the outdoors, and fix the PVC angle profiles measuring 25 cm long to the corners or edges. 

Step 5 – Attach the trellis

The last step will be to screw the trellis to the back of the planter. For this tutorial we have chosen a wooden trellis measuring 180 x 60 cm, made of pine wood previously treated with autoclave in order to make it suitable for the outdoors.

Add the trellis to the wooden planter
Add the trellis to the wooden planter

Another option would be to build your own trellis by nailing the wooden slats and then protecting the wood with wood stain.

The last thing you need to do is just add a few plants and ornaments to decorate the trellis planter.

Add some greenery to the wooden trellis planter
Add some greenery to the wooden trellis planter

Its versatility will allow you to place it in any indoor or outdoor space to suit your particular needs.

Voilà! An outdoor privacy screen
Voilà! An outdoor privacy screen

Written by Bricoydeco

Mari Luz is the author of the Spanish blog Bricoydeco. A big DIYer and lover of recycling, she retunes and customises furniture and objects to give them a second chance – and to turn them into unique pieces.

Did you enjoy this article on how to make an outdoor privacy screen? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our fence buying guide or seeing our tips on what plants to grow for maximum privacy.

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway, #manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

We all like to enjoy our privacy in our outdoor spaces and keep away from prying eyes or unsightly views. Here are some ideas on what privacy plants to grow alongside ways to build a plant screen for your balcony, garden or terrace so you can enjoy your outdoor oasis in private.

Privacy plants

The choices available to us for our plant screen will largely depend on the size of our balcony, terrace or garden. Bamboo, for example, is a great plant for privacy, but as it grows it can end up taking up a lot of useful space in a small balcony. 


Privacy plants for your balcony (C) shutterstock_1355766608

Boxwood is an evergreen (it does not lose its foliage) low maintenance plant, ideal for areas where the weather allows you to enjoy the outdoors for many months. 
It can be grown in full sun and in partial shade, and it can also withstand below zero temperatures in the winter.


Bamboo is a luscious way for balcony privacy (C) Franco Mariuzza

Bamboo grows very fast and is a plant resistant like few others, easily withstanding both direct sunlight in the summer, and very low temperatures in the winter. Its leaves sprout from the base of the stem, so it is ideal for building tall plant screens or barriers. It can be grown in pots or planters, although its height and growth will be limited to the available space: the bigger the planter, the taller the plant will grow.


Horsetail is a good plant for privacy (C) Alesah Villalon

Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) is ideal for demarcating spaces or if we want to give our outdoor space a zen look. It can be grown in direct sunlight as well as in partial shade, and requires frequent watering, especially in the summer.


Hedges provide luscious privacy
(C) Wonderlane

We cannot fail to mention hedge plants, even though they are usually planted directly in the soil. The cherry laurel has glossy round leaves, and is perhaps the smoothest to the touch of all the hedging varieties. Thujas are much more dense, and can grow quite tall. They can all be grown in large pots or planters in order to achieve the desired density.

Climbing plants

Climbing plants can provide a privacy screen
Climbing plants provide a vertical screen

All climbing plants can create a more or less dense screen to provide some privacy. However, some of them lose their leaves in the autumn, so keep this in mind if you need your screen during the winter months as well.


Jasmine provides beautifully scented privacy (C) Shutterstock

Not only can jasmine provide us with a beautiful privacy screen, it will also allow us to enjoy its wonderful jasmine scent during the whole summer. It is a hardy plant, which can be grown in partial shade as well as in direct sunlight when mature. Be careful if you transplant it in the middle of summer to an outdoor area with a great deal of sunshine.


Luscious flowers for the garden
Bougainvillea (C) David Clode

This shrub can be grown in large pots or planters, and requires regular pruning if we want to guide its growth. If you have the space to grow it in a big pot, don’t hesitate to do so. Its blooming in summer is absolutely spectacular and will fill your terrace or balcony with gorgeous colour.


(C) Dalia Mu

If your balcony or terrace receives little direct sunlight, ivy will grow there very easily. You can guide its stems so that they attach to the balcony railing, or you can grow it as a hanging plant in pots or planters. Little by little you will manage to build a dense screen to keep your terrace safe from prying eyes. We must warn you, however, that both its leaves and fruit can be toxic when ingested. This is something to keep in mind if there are children or pets in the house.

Privacy plants: vertical structures, pots and planters

Privacy plants for your garden
(C) Shutterstock

In good-sized terraces we can combine tall pots and planters to divide the space, gain height for our plants and create a good privacy screen. At ManoMano you can find a great variety of options.

Stackable pots and vertical gardens can also provide some privacy if we place them in strategic places or hang them from the railings. We can grow flowers, ferns, scented herbs and small vegetables, all depending on the amount of sunlight available.

In addition to the plants themselves, planters, pots and planting structures can help us gain some further privacy.
On a balcony with railing, for example, we can grow all kinds of plants by placing some planters on the floor and hanging others from the railing. You will need to know how each of the plants grows, in order to achieve the privacy screen that you want. Lastly, let’s not forget that some plants can take longer to grow, so they won’t be able to create a privacy screen immediately. In these cases, we can use other, more conventional, solutions to gain privacy on our terraces or balconies, such as privacy screens, retractable side awnings or even roller blinds that we can roll out and back in at our pleasure.

Best privacy plants for your garden (C) Annie Spratt

Did you enjoy this article on the best privacy plants for your balcony, terrace or garden? Perhaps you’d be interested in reading our BBQ buying guide or seeing our 4 tips on garden lighting.

Share your results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!