Filthy Garden SOS Episode 4 West London

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 4  West London

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 4 West London, is a garden makeover show with a difference that was first shown in 2021 on 5 Star.

Award winning Garden Designer Diarmuid Gavin starts by telling us our gardens are our sanctuaries, private, plant filled, peaceful and green corners of this green covered land.
He goes on to tell us not all gardens are like that and the homeowners have not got the gardening bug and their gardens are shocking!

He actually calls them 'crimes against nature itself'.

Diarmuid tells us for as long as he been gardening he never seen gardens so bad.

The Team

Help is on the way with his crack team of experts starting with Garden Designer Danny Clarke who will bring out the gardener in the home owner by encouraging them to grow into gardeners which he finds as satisfying as seeing the garden grow.

Penny Lamb it is all about using power tools in the garden to clear and cut down as well as making things for the garden.

Diarmuid is on a mission to show everyone how easy it is to look after a garden to change a Filthy Garden to a fabulous Garden.

'This is Filthy Garden SOS'

Ryan and Olwyn

In this episode we are in White City, West London to meet Grandson Ryan who wants to get his Grandmother Olwyn who is 86 years old back out and gardening in the garden she loved.

Olwyn is starting to forget things and Ryan who has recently moved in to be her Carer, wants to slow this down by bringing back memories in her garden.

The garden is overgrown and an embarrassment that Ryan has attempted to tackle unsuccessfully.

For 70 years Olwyn has done gardening and loves nature and was taught at a young age how to grow things by her mum and she remembers selling homegrown mint for a sixpence for Sunday Roasts.


When she got married she lived out in the Far East and for her 21st Birthday went to Tiger Balm Gardens.

Ryan when he became her full-time Carer took Olwyn to the Doctors about her Memory and he started researching ways to help which included Gardening.

Danny and Penny drive to the garden and look a bit worried at what they see when they arrive to greet Diarmuid 

The garden

Danny not seen Privet that out of control but Penny reckons she can easily tackle it with the right tools.

Diarmuid knocks on Olwyn and Ryans door and the Team greets them and Diarmuid says he is 'Mystified' how it has got so bad.

Olwyn explained all her Children grew up and moved away, her Husband and Mum had both died and she just stayed indoors whilst the garden overgrew.

The garden

Now the garden has trapped her in the house 'like Great Expectations isn't it' says Olwyn.

Ryan said he knew she was scared to go out but he had never heard her say it, and that has made him feel very sad hearing his Grandma say it.

Diarmuid asks Ryan if he is prepared to get stuck into helping and will then maintain the garden? He says he will as he wants the family to come visit and to grow his own produce.

The Garden

The garden

Diarmuid takes Danny and Penny to see the 100 square metre garden for the first time and they are shocked by the overgrown garden strewn with rubbish.

It is an Urban Jungle, very crunchy underfoot and it has a dumped Fridge in amongst it as well as at least 20 bags of rubbish.

The garden

Ryan has lived there on and off for 10 years and has tried to tame the garden but it would just grow back.

Penny says that does not explain why there is a fridge and rubbish bags everywhere and other things just dumped in the garden?

The garden

Ryan says he has mistreated the garden to he admits and just used it to dump things rather than keep it clear.

The hard work begins
Penny gives Ryan his first job and that is to clear all the bags of rubbish he has dumped in the garden!

There is not anywhere to even put a skip so the first job is to clear the jungle of a front garden by hand.


They have some large dump bags in the front and Ryan is the first to throw his rubbish in, to officially start the garden clearance.

There are so many branches to clear but it is best done by hand to prevent fungal rot and new shoots from growing.

The Contractors arrive to help with this huge clearance and the garden is quickly clearing now. 

Olwyn is pleased she can now see the sky out of the window as the first day of clearance is nearly finished.

The Plan
Diarmuid says they need to open up the garden and take away the canopy to bring light in to grow some fruit and vegetables.

They want to keep some of the arched canopy to keep its mysterious feel and work with the garden.

The plan

Diarmuid plan is to create a pathway of Japanese Maples to remind her of the Far East.

The path will lead to a garden studio and at the front of the garden a new terrace to entertain the visiting family on.


The front garden is the sunny spot so this will have the vegetables and Herb patch.

Diarmuid shares his plan with Ryan and the first part is an area for memories for Olwyn and they are leaving parts of the garden wildlife friendly.

Looking for inspiration
Diarmuid takes Ryan to visit the Japanese Garden in Hammersmith Park to get some inspiration from the Far East.

Hammersmith Park

Firstly Diarmuid spots a conifer seemingly to hover over the water in layers and he compares it to the way they have pruned an Elder Tree in their garden.

Next is a patch of Ivy similar to that they have in the garden already, it makes good ground cover and grows in dry shade very well and the wildlife love it.

Hammersmith Park

Olwyn is the inspiration for the garden to spark memories of her life so if she feels at home in the garden with familiar things in the peace of the garden this will help.

A work in progress
Diarmuid garden study is arriving tomorrow but first it needs the ground prepped and this does not need footings as it has anchorage points that get it off the ground.

anchorage points

There are 16 in total and this will raise the building off the ground so that air can circulate around it.

Olwyn asks Diarmuid where can she get a Lavender bush as her Mother had planted one when they lived over the road and took loads of cuttings and planted them outside a home for the elderly.


Her Mother has now died but the flats are now called Lavender Court and it is lovely that a Lavender has triggered this memory for Olwyn and Diarmuid promises her some.

The soil in the garden needs improving so they are bringing in some new top soil as it needs enriching as all the nutrients are depleted after it becoming a wasteland.

'All gardens are only as good as their soil' so on top of the top soil they are adding some organic matter.


Next it is the plants and Ryan never planted anything before and they want plants that will make the garden look good all year long.

It also has to be easy maintenance and they are adding some Azaleas which is an oriental plant that like the shade.

Ryan and Diarmuid

Ryan asked what plant this is and it is a Pieris Japonica that likes semi shade and he also has a Rosemary that like it in the sun.

Danny is teaching Ryan about the plants and where they should go in the back garden by getting him to arrange them for planting.


He starts by placing the Nandina or Heavenly Bamboo which turns fiery red in the Autumn, Diarmuid tells him that Oriental Maples like the dappled shade but also will do well overhanging the terrace.

Danny is tackling the Privet that was once a hedge and it is no longer letting in any light so needs a drastic trim if they are to have the vegetable plot!

After such a drastic cut it is going to look very woody and bare but it will soon green up.

Privet is an evergreen and tolerates pollution and has flowers in June that the bees love and you should  never cut any hedges between March to August as it is the bird nesting season.

Danny has a short cut for putting up fencing and that is using a dry concrete mix, in the fence post hole.


You then add water to the dry mix and the posts need to be the depth of one third of the height of the panel.

The fencing they are using in the garden is a made of a composite material from upcycled materials and will last up to 25 years and it all just slots into the posts.


Once all the planks are slotted in there is a top piece to keep them all in securely and has a lovely finish.

Danny goes to speak to Olwyn who for the first time in a long while can see the outside from her front window and now she has lots of natural light.

Danny goes to speak to Olwyn

She had forgotten how big the front garden was and tells Danny off for talking or it will not get finished, Danny just smiles and gets back to work.

The next job for Danny and Ryan is to plant some new Privet Hedging to fill the gaps from the hedge they removed.

He has some marker paint and a board and marks out the line the new hedge needs to be planted at to match the existing hedge.

Ryan and Danny

The Privet plants are put in 30cm apart to the depth of the pots and the closer it is planted together the quicker it will merge together into a hedge.

It will need plenty of water for a few months until it is settled in.


Raised planters are being built and the turf has arrived and Danny is checking it to make sure there is no yellowing of the grass.

He holds the whole roll up as a test and it all stays together so it is a good bit of turf

The Garden Studio has arrived and a membrane has been put underneath to stop any weed growth and the base put on.

The Garden Studio

The walls and floor are already insulated and comes in a kit for self building and Ryan very excited by the building.

There is a fence to go in between Olwyn and her neighbours but a huge tree trunk is in the way so she tries to cut it up with her chainsaw but the wood is still very hard.


Penny is determined to get the trunk out and cuts it up into smaller pieces.

Penny is making a surprise for Olwyn out of upcycled materials and has found an old table of Olwyn's to use.

She has washed it and let it dry and is sanding it down with an Orbital Sander so it does not leave any marks.

Diarmuid and Penny

Diarmuid brings in a planter and you can either stand it on top or sink it into the table top, they decide to sink it into the table top.

He has chosen an Elephant's Ear plant or Colocasia which comes from the Far East.

Ryan first job is to prepare the base where the terrace is going and it is hard work as he has to dig it out then lay 4 tons of base stones to the area.


After he has moved all the base into position it is compacted down with a compactor plate so the surface is completely even.

Danny has a job for Ryan and passes on the Hedge cutting job to him.

Diarmuid now asks Ryan to disappear so they can finish off the garden for the big reveal.

With the finishing touches done to the garden it is now ready for the big reveal.

The Grand Reveal

Olwyn and Ryan here is your garden

Diarmuid Olwyn and Ryan

'Wow' 'Oh my goodness' 'This is our garden' 'Is that....?' 'look there, Incredible, isn't it?' 'yes lovely, the flowers' 'Haven't seen flowers in this garden'.

Finished garden

Porcelain patio for entertaining

Finished garden

Garden Studio for relaxing and chillier days

Finished garden

New fences and Oriental planting

Finished garden

Olwyn comes out of her back door for the first time in years and the garden is so light and open now and she is beaming.

The Team well up and she tours the garden ending up at the Garden Studio and Olwyn is pleased they saved the table as she didn't want to ask them to.

Olwyn cannot get over the change and even asks if it is real and she never thought she would ever have a garden like this.

Finished garden

There is one more surprise for her the front garden it is now full of light and sun and includes a row of her special plant Lavender.

The smell takes her right back to when they always smelled her Mother's Lavender and the garden is full of other fragrant plants like Thyme, Chives, Rosemary and Strawberries.

Finished garden

Diarmuid wants Olwyn as his Grannie as his eyes well up at this very special lady Olwyn.

Their first visitors arrive, Olwyn's Daughter, Granddaughter and Great Grandson come to see the garden and are shocked at the transformation on what will be the first of many more visits to the garden.

Finished garden

Olwyn says 'the last 10 years has been sleepwalking through life' now she has her freedom.

Diarmuid ends by saying how fantastic they both are and they have enjoyed doing this garden for them as they hand over the fork and trowel and the care of the garden to Ryan and they cannot thank them enough.

Finished garden

All Photographs are copyright of Channel 5

Project Manager
Thea Pitcher

Anthony Berry
Morgan Grainger
David Johnson
Lee Jones


  1. Just saw this show for the very first time, love it!

  2. Great show, good presenters, cool gardens and design

  3. I wish to Congratulate our wonderful Diarmuid Gavin and hie excellent team on his amazing work and beautiful design for Olwyn and her grandson. The finished product had me in tears . It is perfect in every way and you have given Olwyn a new lease of life. Maura Collier, Navan .