Filthy Garden SOS Episode 5

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 5

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 5 s a garden makeover show with a difference that was first shown in 2021 on 5 Star and then repeated on Channel 5.

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.

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'

In this week episode the couple have renovated their house and at the same time the building work has destroyed the garden.

Andy and Kirsten

Andy and Kirsten and their 2 young Sons, 4 year old Theo and 7 month old Arthur, live in Horsforth near Leeds, Yorkshire and bought the house just 18 months ago.

After fully renovating their dream home they have been left with a garden of nightmares that is not safe for the children to even go out in.

Andy works for the Fire Service and Kirsten job in the NHS and they started extending their house at a time when both were very busy and the garden just became a dumping site.


With the house complete, it is now the turn of the garden and they want to get rid of all the building waste and have a safe family garden for everyone to enjoy.

Diarmuid and Penny are on their way to the house and Danny is there to meet them and he shows them around the back for their first sight of the garden.

Diarmuid Penny and Danny

They meet with the owners Andy and Kirsten and Diarmuid points out the blossoming Lilac and Hawthorn trees and how green the plants are becoming.

Penny says the extension and house are gorgeous but the garden is not something to be proud of.

This is why they now are turning their attention to the garden so they can have somewhere nice for the children mainly but also for them to enjoy being outside with them. 

Andy and Kirsten

They both have happy memories of childhoods spent in their gardens, watching tadpoles grow and want the same for their children.

Diarmuid points out their new boots showing they are new to this but they are prepared to get 'stuck in'.

The Garden 
It is a building site full of sacks of garden waste, rubble, pallets and all the building waste from the renovations and extension.

Garden before

The garden is long and rectangular with a shaded woodland area at the bottom.

The hard work begins
They start work clearing the site and filling wheelbarrows of rubble and wood and these are taken round the front and into the skip.

clearing garden

The Contractors arrive to help clear and level the site they also have brought a mini digger with them to do this.

There is now 10 and the digger in the garden working to clear the site so the real work in transforming it can begin.

clearing garden

In 1 day they manage to clear 4 tonnes of rubbish!

The Plan
Diarmuid plans to make 3 separate garden areas, they will interconnect and flow into each other.

First there is a patio for eating and socialising and sitting out on.

A raised lawn to act as a play area for the boys and their toys and football.


At the end of the garden with a grand entrance made of 2 stone pillars is a secret garden with a wildlife den, stumpery and pond and also a campfire.

Diarmuid shares his plan with Andy and Kirsten, the couple are amazed by the design ideas and they set to work creating their dream garden.

Looking for inspiration
Diarmuid takes Andy and Kirsten to their local Garden  York Gate Gardens which is divided into planting zones that all work and link together.

York Gate Gardens

He tells them it is like theirs will be as it is divided into rooms but they have 16 different ones.

He shows them one with 2 pillars and a gate that he has planned for their woodland entrance.

Diarmuid now showing them an example of a stone edging to a lawn which has a border on the other and it makes for a crisp and tidy finish to both.


Next he shows them a simple stone bowl pond that has tadpoles in it and it shows that even the most shallowest water can have wildlife living in it, just like Danny plans for theirs.

The final part of the garden they enter is a garden room that has an amazing view of a long rectangle garden, similar in shape to theirs.


The tree in the distance draws your eye down the garden as a focal point and this is why Diarmuid is adding the pillars and gates to their garden.

A work in progress
Diarmuid starts work by marking out the play area and lawn area which will have slabs from the terrace to get into.


The lawn is going to be rectangular with a brick surround which Andy is going to put down and on one side will be the flower border.

Diarmuid returns with Andy & Kirsten to see that the patio has been completed.

At the end of the garden work is in progress on the stone pillars that are going to make the focal point in the garden but right in the middle is a Rhododendron that needs moving with the help of a mini digger.

moving Rhododendron

So that it does not go into shock, they need to make sure the shallow roots are not damaged and that they are all moved in the one lump.

They pre-watered it well and have managed to get it all out in one go and it is moved into it is well watered spot and will be left to recover.

Diarmuid and Penny are speed planting some Fern, Astilbe, Creeping Geranium, Herbaceous Geranium which will all like the dappled shade conditions.


He starts with the Herbaceous Geraniums which will carpet the area very quickly, then the Ferns which he describes as 'Gothic'.

It is best to always plant in odd numbers and they are planting in 3's.


If you are planting lots of plants this does not apply but with small numbers it is better to group them for more of an effect.

Astilbes add colour and interest to a shady border and he finally adds some Woodland Phlox which is Native to North America and likes the sun or light shade.


Under the Hawthorn tree it is very dry so they can plant under there but the rest of the garden is very muddy and slippery and they are going to have to stop planting until it dries out, which may take several weeks!!

2 weeks later they are back in the garden with the plants and turf all ready to go again.

2 weeks later

Diarmuid shows Andy and Kirsten a Honeysuckle and gets them to guess what it is, they half guess the woodland plants name and it is going at the base of the stone pillar.

He tips it out of the pot and pops it in the hole with no extra feed as it does not need any as it is in new fertile soil.

Diarmuid has chosen white Roses to have at the entrance to the lawn and play area and this will also add more fragrance to the garden.

When planting Roses you need to dig and prepare the are as they need a lot of feeding so you need to add compost to the soil.

Standard Roses

Kirsten is helping him and he has chosen Standard Roses which means they are grown on a long stem to make them look like a lollipop at the top.

Once planted it needs a lot of water and Andy has the hose to give it a good initial soak.

Diarmuid is adding some Privet amongst the Roses which is evergreen and has some white flowers.

Danny and Andy are at the rear of the garden where there is a shady woodland area and it is lovely secluded spot already but Danny wants to make it a special area.


Danny is moving the brick pavers that are great for the garden as they are non slip and can be made into loads of different patterns.

Danny likes to recycle and he has a container that he has found in the garden he has saved from the landfill and he plans to use it as a pond.

He marks around the container with a spray can so he knows what to dig out and tells us in the last 50 years we have lost a third of our ponds.


This may be due to safety concerns that children may fall in but you don't have to have a large pond and even the smallest pond can be good for wildlife.

The pond will attract birds, Damsel Flies, Dragonflies and other insects as well as frogs.

It should be somewhere thats not too sunny or shady.

Now the box is level in the soil Danny adds some rocks in the bottom for Frogs and Newts to climb in and out of the pond on.

Work on the Stumpery has started and they luckily have been given an assortment of leftover bits of trees by a woodland maintenance company.


One of them is massive and Danny takes Penny to look at it to give him an idea on how they are going to get it into the garden!

She has got a breaking bar and hook and with a big shove they get it out of the van and with the help of her chainsaw Penny cuts it into more manageable pieces.


The stumps need to be positioned carefully for the wildlife to get the full benefit from them and the best side needs facing outwards too.

Next job for Danny is to build a seating area next to the French doors to the house and he has Kirsten to help him with the digging.

He is adding an Arbour which will be shaded with the sides and roof formed by climbing plants.

making Arbour

He is using Hornbeam which is the most Hardest wood which will provide food and shelter for birds and rare moths.

The weather is not kind and it is pouring but the wood is already very flexible to be bent into the arch shape needed.

After 24 hours of rain Danny is tying the top of the Hornbeams together and they will thicken up and look more like a canopy with the bench in the middle.


Danny is planting up the Stumpery and he is using Grasses, Ferns and some Box that will all do well in the shade.

Penny is painting the existing shed to blend in a bit more with the woodland area and is using a grey paint.


She finds using a brush the easiest but some people like to use a roller.

Penny with the help of paddy have dug out a curve in the soil where they are going to construct a dry stone wall near the paved area which will have a fire pit in the centre.


The dry stone wall will stop the mud sliding into the seating area but it is quite tricky to get it started.

The bricks need to be placed front to back rather than lengthways so it makes the wall stronger and you start with your thickest stones at the bottom.

Andy comes to help Penny with the dry stone walling for the seating and fire pit area and he starts by carefully choosing stones to put on the layer.

Penny and Andy

To shape the stones to fit in the gaps you need a walling hammer which has a large square face as well as a edge to chisel at the stones.

With the rain pouring Penny has found a final project to upcycle and it is a lovely metal Dolly tub.

She is using it for a planter for Lavender which need free drainage so first she is going to put bits of rubble in the bottom where the holes are.


If you do not have any rubble you can use Polystyrene which also makes the pots lighter.

She then adds multi-purpose compost and plans to put on the terrace in the full sun which is ideal for Lavender.  


Penny is planting Thyme in between the stones at the pathway to soften the entrance into the woodland area.

Homeowners Andy and Kirsten
Andy is digging the trench for the brick border to the lawn and its hard work with the soil compacted, Kirsten is wheelbarrowing away the soil.

The digger takes over so Andy and Kirsten get to work moving the brick pavers.

Kirsten and Andy

Kirsten and Andy are starting to lay the brick edging to the lawn after a lesson from the team and the area is staked out with string lines for them to follow.

With just the string and a spirit level they should be able to lay them in a straight line and keep them even, but it is not as easy as it looks.

After several false starts they get the hang of it and are picking up speed and they are not using mortar just a bed of sand.

With the garden nearly complete Diarmuid tells the couple to leave the garden and they will be back for the reveal when it is all completed.

With the turf laid, the planting complete and the final touches done the garden is complete.

The Grand Reveal

Andy & Kirsten here is your garden

Andy & Kirsten

'Oh my god' 'Oh my goodness, this looks incredible' 'Wow, I can't believe this is ours' 'It's taken my breath away a little bit, actually. I'm as speechless as I've ever been' 'It is amazing'.

Tears flow.

A stone Patio

A stone Patio

Play lawn with brick edging

Play lawn with brick edging


Stone pillars

Stone pillars

Seating area with firepit

Seating area with firepit

Stumpery, pond and Woodland Garden

Stumpery, pond and Woodland Garden

Living Arbour

Living Arbour

An emotional team tell them they have worked really hard to do it too and they wander down the garden to see what's at the end.

Danny shows them the firepit, seating and Stumpery and they love that all too and look forward to making memories with the boys toasting Marshmallows.


The many tears are blamed on the campfire smoke as the couple thank the team for what they have done for them.

Now its time for Theo and baby Arthur to see their new garden with the rest of the family and it is big smiles all round as they all explore.


Final job for the team is to hand over a mini garden set to Theo for him to help his Mummy and Daddy look after the garden for years to come. Also a full size set of a trowel and fork for the parents, as the team say goodbye to this ex Filthy Garden.

All Photographs are copyright of Channel 5

Project Manager
Paul Brady

Henry Davies
Bernard Horricks
Patrick Riley
Malcolm Moore
Steve Griffiths
Dan Goutorbe
Joe Barwick

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