The Instant Gardener Series 1 Episode 5

The Instant Gardener Series 1: Episode 5

The Instant Gardener is Danny Clarke Garden Designer, who with the help of Helen Skelton and the Team, show us how to transform a problem garden, on a budget in just 1 day.

This week they are in Bradford, West Yorkshire to see Beverley Finch who lives with her 18 year old son Dale and her elderly Mother Brenda.

When Beverley became a single parent she moved back in with her family when Dale was just 1 years old and Brenda has helped her bring him up.


Now Brenda is struggling with Arthritis and her mobility is not so good and she has had several falls.

The Garden
The back garden has become a neglected tangled mess of a jungle and not safe for Brenda so Beverley nominated her for this makeover.

The garden has not been touched for 12 years and has run wild.

Garden before

The borders are all overgrown and the lawn has become wild and out of shape.

Amongst the jungle plants like Crocosmia, Rhubarb and peonies have struggled through.

At the back there is a greenhouse and beyond that it is too overgrown with shrubs to get too.

Garden before

There are broken steps leading down into the garden.

Danny says 'it just needs bringing back to life'.

Beverley has said in last 12 years she has not been able to  keep up  with any maintenance of the garden.

Garden before

She just wants a garden they can all appreciate and that is safe for her mother who is very unsteady.

She also wants the garden as a thank you for all Brenda has done for her.

Danny asks if there is anything specific she wants in the garden?

Garden before

A seating area to watch the wildlife and relax.

Danny hands over his shopping list and Helen and Beverley head off out with it for the day.

Danny's Design
He is going to cut and reshape the lawn area.

Trim back the overgrown hedges and cut down any saplings as there is no time to dig them out.

Danny going to work his way back into the overgrown part of the garden to see what is in there.

Garden plan

He is going to divide any existing plants to make more plants in the garden.

Danny is going to repair the steep steps that access the garden and add a handrail for safety.

Finally a new seating area.

A Work in Progress
The team helping Danny today Handyman AJ AKA Euan AJ Rose, Horticulturist Lou AKA Louise Hampden and Dale plus friends Jamie and Billy.



There is a lot to do in the garden today and Danny jokes they not be mates with Dale after this!

Danny Dale Jamie and Billy.

They don the safety gear and Danny gets them mowing the lawn and clearing out the junk in the garden.

AJ first job is to tackle the broken and dangerous steps into the garden.

AJ explains that concrete can be slippery so he is going to rebuild the chipped and broken steps then says he is going to attach fake grass to them to make them less slippery?

Lou is worried she going to need something a bit stronger than her secateurs to tackle the shrubbery.

The Weather forecast is not good so they have to get cracking on the hedge cutting.

Progress is going well and the hedges are being cut back.

They have now reached the area to the back of the garden and are carrying out an assessment and safety check before they can progress.

Danny wants to remove a tree but first they need to check for nesting birds.

Danny and Dale

He explains how it is an offence to disturb a wild birds nest whilst it is in use with the maximum penalty being £5000 fine and/or 6 months imprisonment.

After a thorough check they decide the tree is safe to be cut down.

Danny is attacking a Kerria, Kerria Japonica 'Pleniflora' that is in flower but it needs this drastic trim.

A tree Surgeon complete with a wood chipper turns up to deal with the trees and saplings.

Joffrey Benedict Lucian Marshall Watson and Danny

Joffrey Benedict Lucian Marshall Watson but call me Joff or 
The Chainsaw Bloke has brought some wood along to sculpture but for now he is keeping it a surprise.

Joff soon makes light work of the saplings but Chainsaw accidents are one of the most serious in the garden and you need the proper protective clothing and know what you are doing.

It is best to get a professional in to do the job for you.

Joffrey Benedict Lucian Marshall Watson

Joff is cutting down a sycamore in the hedge and he is cutting below the require height of the hedge as that stimulates growth and will make the hedge thicker to its desired height that you can then maintain.

AJ has been making progress on making the steps at the access safer and has been cladding some of the steps in wood and has sandwiched some fake grass in the wood.


Danny helps him roll out the non slip grass and he secures it into place.

Joffery the Tree Surgeon has been hard at work creating the most amazing sculptures.

Using the wood from the tree he cut down he has made an owl sculpture using just the chainsaw and a router.

He has also done a Green Man chair too.

The garden is really coming on well now and has so much more light coming into it.

A whole skip load of garden rubbish is now ready to be taken away.

AJ has attached the new handrail to the wall and is now tackling the broken bottom step.

He has surrounded the broken edge with decking boards and will fill the gaps with some cement that the boards will keep in place.

Danny says the artificial grass on the steps joins it to the rest of the garden. 
Personally i think its dangerous as it is all the same colour and it may cause more accidents?

Danny is making more plants for the garden by lifting and splitting the existing Perennials.


Plants that can be split include Monbretia Crocosmia by just lifting a piece and pulling off any baby corn parts and throwing them around the garden into the soil. 

The mother plant can also be re-positioned into the border.

This will also reinvigorate the main plants and it will continue to grow and flower.

The cut lawn has been reshaped and the saplings all cut down.

Joffery is finishing off his sculptures with an angle grinder and Danny sees them for the first time and he loves them.

green man

After discussing the resemblance in the green man to Danny he explains that they symbolise rebirth and nature and is a pagan symbol you see on churches.

Joffery been a tree surgeon for over 20 years and started off trying the odd carving and now he does it for over half his job.

The carving just need an oil to keep them looking their best.

The rain has started and Danny sees this as an opportunity to try to level the bumps in the lawn using boards and a heavy hammer.


The Owl sculpture is put in place and Danny uses the wood chippings as a mulch.

The bench is put on some paving slabs in the corner of the lawn it has an arch over it for the climbers.

Helen turns up eventually and is shocked by the change to the garden and Danny is pleased to get his climbers.


Danny says he is very pleased as this morning he wanted to just turn around and head back home as he thought it would be an impossible task.

Helen spots the steps and is amazed at the transformation as she was worried if they were able to make them safer.

They get the climbers planted nice and deep as advised.

Garden Visit and Shopping
Helen and Beverley visit a garden near Leeds that was once an overgrown jungle but is now a beautiful well kept garden.

The garden has really good access to all areas as well as a lot of well placed seating areas.

Garden visit

The garden certainly has the WOW factor and Beverley just finds its stunning and wants to sit there all day just looking at it.

The garden has similarities to Beverley's as it is is surrounded by woodland and has steps leading from the house to it.

They go for a wander around the garden through an archway with roses and Clematis which they both love.

There is a large woven deer statue which over sees the garden and looks perfect in its setting.

Garden visit

There are lots of ideas Beverley can take back to her own garden.

Beverley says if she had a garden like this she would never be indoors again.

They are meeting with Kate Van Heel and she is telling them how overgrown the garden was when they moved in.

They started nearest to the house but the borders have changed several times over the years.

Kate says to start by getting rid of all the major weeds and to put the right plants in the right places.

Garden visit

Beverley says its great to know their garden was once like hers and this has given her real hope for her own garden transformation.

Tips for your own overgrown garden
1) Take pictures of your garden from all angles and in all seasons for the first year to see what is growing
2) Starve weeds of light by covering with a thick layer of weed suppressing membrane 
3) Remove large and overgrown trees
4) keep an eye out for open gardens to get inspiration National Garden Scheme

Next they head to the Garden Centre with Danny List to guide them in to what to buy.

Beverley father used to bring her to Garden Centres as a child and it was him that planted and maintained the garden.

Danny's List

On Danny list is Climbers, Maybe Clematis and to get good advice!

Helen points out a Fig Ficus Carica 'Brown Turkey' that is a climber, Beverley is not impressed.

They speak to John the Garden Centre Manager that gives them their options for blousey Climbers.

John Beverley and Helen

He points out evergreen Clematis, Spring flowering Montana and summer flowering hybrids.

For this time of year he recommends the summer flowering hybrid and Beverley likes the Clematis 'Scartho Gem'.

John recommends planting it deeper than it is in the pot and keeping first few inches covered to help prevent Clematis Wilt.

It will need plenty of water, its head in the sun and roots in the shade.

To go with it Beverley picks Clematis 'Multi Blue'.

Beverley still wants another climber and John shows them some Star Jasmine Trachelospermums Asiaticum which is very scented.

Jasmine Jasminum Officinale is evergreen and are easy to look after they just needs a sheltered garden.

They decide to get them both and thats the shopping completed.

What the Garden Means to Them
Helen talks to Beverley about what life has been like since she and her son Dale moved back in to the family home.

After splitting with her ex partner she moved back in and the family rallied round and helped her in all sorts of ways like childcare.

Her mother is now not well and suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis and in a lot of pain on a daily basis and now is her time to give back to her mother.

Dale has always been very close to his grandmother after living with her from just 13 month old.

Beverley says her mother doesn't get out much any more so to be able to get out into the garden and enjoy the wildlife will be great for her.

For her and Dale she is looking forward to some family time outside and Dale want to get a Barbecue for them all to enjoy.

The Grand Reveal
Beverley and Brenda this is your new garden.

Brenda Beverley Dale and Helen

'WOW' 'oh look at that' 'gorgeous' 'look at how big it looks' 'amazing' 'you couldn't see the ground for all the bushes' 'brilliant' 'it's great i love it'

Brenda cannot wait to try out the new seating area and to watch the birds.

They all take a seat in their new garden.

The cut and shaped lawn now has a lovely metal arched seating area with climbers.

Garden after

The green man Sculptured seat provides additional seating.

The borders have been filled with plants and also the Owl wood sculpture.

Garden after

The hedges have been cut back and shaped.

The area beyond the greenhouse has been cleared and opened up by the removal of the trees.

Garden after

Finally the steps have been made safe for Brenda to use.

Helen praises Danny for a job well done and giving them back their garden that they can now all use.

Danny praises Dale and his friends for being a fantastic help and they could not have done this without them.

Brenda Beverley

A proud mum and Grandma look very happy on their new seat and their transformed garden. 

All Photos are Copyright of       

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