Filthy Garden SOS Episode 6

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 6

Filthy Garden SOS Episode 6, is a garden makeover show with a difference that was first shown in 2021 on 5 Star and then repeated on Channel 5.

This is the last episode of series 1, hopefully a series 2 will follow!

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'

Brian and Shane

This weeks episode we are in Fareham in Hampshire to meet father and Son Brian and Shane, after Brian sadly losing his wife, he gave up on his beloved garden.

Brian is 80 years old and along with his Son Shane they have both served in the Military.

Ill health stopped Brian doing so much outside and then Margaret became ill and became confined to a wheelchair.

The garden

The local council added a ramp to the back of the house which Brian says looks horrible.

Margaret died 8 years ago and the garden was left neglected and Brian could no longer cope with the garden.

Now Brian and Shane are determined to get stuck in and get the garden back in order.

Margaret & Brian 

Danny and Penny arrive to meet Diarmuid at the house and they go in for their first look at the garden.

It is in a right mess and looks like a junkyard and there is stuff everywhere including a very full greenhouse.

Brian and Shane come out to meet the team and they ask him how it ended up like this after being his pride and joy.

The garden

The last 15 years have been tough he had Cancer of the Oesophagus and then the death of his wife this meant he became even more depressed over the garden.

The garden was somewhere he spent a lot of time in with Margaret as they did it together.

What he now wants from the garden is somewhere thats good to look at but is also manageable, somewhere to sit and have a barbeque and a beer.

The Garden
Previously it had been a big wide open space, with a vegetable garden and they used to use it for entertaining and would have up to 20 people in the garden for a Barbeque. 

The garden before

Margaret, Brian's late Wife, was the passionate gardener but the pond was all Brian own work as he loves his fish and birds but he did enjoy being in his Greenhouse.

Margaret used to tend the flowerbeds as well as 90+ pots of plants and flowers.

The garden before

The garden also contains several old sheds, an Aviary, a greenhouse a fish swimming pool and the remains of a bomb crater pond.

The hard work begins
The Contractors arrive to start work on the garden as well as several skips to put all the rubbish in.

The first items cleared from the back garden are Margaret's garden ornaments.

Brian and Penny

The team then make a start on the fish pond and Diarmuid asks how it got there and Brian said he was storing a friends digger but after a boozy night at the pub he dug the hole.

Next morning he had a hangover, angry wife and a new fish pond to go in the large hole.


The pond lasted 20 years but then started leaking so the fish got moved into a swimming pool as a temporary home.

They start by removing the perishing pond liner and Brian helps Diarmuid to throw it into the skip.

Before long 4 tones of rubbish is ready to go in the first skip and Brian waves it off with a happy 'goodbye'.

Penny tackles the sensitive subject of Margaret's garden ornaments with Brian and between them they decide which ones were her favourites and the ones they will keep. 

Danny having a look in the greenhouse with Shane and there is an amazing amount of plants growing in it still. 

There is also a lot of junk being stored in it that will all have to be removed to the skip.


Shane says his Dad gets upset he cannot do as much as he used to as he is getting old and being unable to control things.

They have made good progress in the garden and the pond is now filled and levelled and the stones surrounding the pond will all be used elsewhere in the garden.

The garden

There is one part of the garden Brian does look after which contains lots of flowers, camellias, Roses, Iris, Bluebells and Peonies but Diarmuid thinks be best for fruit and vegetables as it is next to the Greenhouse.

Now is not the best time to move the plants but they have no choice if you are redesigning a whole garden.

Brian and Shane are both enjoying part of the renovations and the final push to clear the garden is to remove all of the existing turf.

The cleared garden

Now they all have a spade in hand the first day comes to an end with the garden cleared ready for Diarmuid plan to be put in place.

The Plan
Diarmuid needs the new garden to excite them, something to feel comfortable with that they know they can keep maintained.

He also wants it to be beautiful so he has drawn up the plans and the first thing he is doing is to remove the ugly ramp.

He will replace with a patio leading to a lawned area containing a pond.

The plan

The Aviary will be restored as well as the existing greenhouse and they will add some raised beds that are easy to garden for him.

Right at the top of the garden he plans a terrace for the whole family to enjoy socialising in.

Brian and Shane are so pleased at how the garden is looking after just 1 day now that it has all been cleared and Diarmuid can now see how the garden is going to look when finished.

Brian and Shane

Diarmuid tells them his plans for the garden and they love the idea of a new pond, greenhouse area and seating area to enjoy a pint in.

But this time he is not allowed to use a digger!

Looking for inspiration
Diarmuid takes Brian and Shane to the Seaside to a Plantsman's Garden, so called as it contains rare and unusual species of plants.

Garden visit

The garden is not far from where they live and should be an inspiration to them as it shows what you can grow in the same conditions as what they have.

If you grow plants in the right conditions they will be happy and self seed and spread so you do not have to keep buying new plants.

He points out an Agave that Brian already has to show that they are in the right conditions to thrive.

Garden visit

Diarmuid wants the garden to be easy for them to maintain so he looking at the plants they know they can look after.

Diarmuid has come up with an idea to benefit the wildlife and Nature in the Garden and he hopes Brian is going to love it.

He shows him how the lawn merges into a Wild Flower area as well as having perennial and bulbs so this will attract lots of Pollinators.

Garden visit

He tells them they are going to sow Wild Flowers into his new lawn and this will also attract wildlife like Hedgehogs and Insects.

This will also mean there is less garden to mow as you just leave it to grow and Brian says this is the kind of garden to escape in he is looking forward to having.

They enjoyed their garden visit and have found it to be a relaxing and stress free garden, exactly what they need and envisaging it in their own garden.

The Team

A work in progress

Diarmuid  is unable to be with them for the build as he is needed in Ireland so leaves it in the capable hands of Danny and Penny but will be back for the reveal.

Danny and Penny

On the final day of the makeover Diarmuid sends the team a video message of encouragement and to let them know he is on his way.

Danny first job is to get the greenhouse clean and free from bacteria so he sets Brian to work to clean the glass with some soapy water.

Brian and Shane

This will also help let as much daylight in as possible and Shane helps him by hosing off the soapy water.

Danny wants Shane to help him build the raised beds near the Greenhouse and they plan a big bed at the back and a smaller one in front.

Raised bed

They are using wooden sleepers to construct the ends and to the sides they will use corrugated metal before filling them with soil.

Now the raised beds are all ready Danny starts the planting with some Runner Beans that were growing in the Greenhouse.


He uses Bamboo canes in 3s to form little wigwams for the beans to grow up, with 1 Runner Bean per cane.

Brian has canaries in the Aviary in the garden and Danny wants to give their home a makeover so starts by catching the birds.

He adds some corrugated metal to the roof, which matches the raised beds.


Danny next job is the Wildflower meadow and he has some ready sown and grown Wildflower Turf and it is very easy to lay, just like doing a carpet.

Penny is helping to prepare the foundations for the new terrace and Brian is helping her and talking about his memories of Margaret and she would love the garden to be done.

Penny and ramp

The one thing in the garden he really wants to get rid of is the handrails that were put in for Margaret to help her out of the house and reminds him of her being very unwell.

Penny could see how upset he was so she decides to get rid of it straight away and sets to work with her angle grinder to dismantle the rails.

Penny and ramp

The job is not as easy as Penny thought it might be as a lot of it has rusted so cannot be unscrewed so will need sawing off with the angle grinder.

Then the slabbed ramp needs sledge hammering and she really wants it all gone to surprise them when they return from their garden visit.


Once this has gone there will be room for a patio seating area.

On there return Penny is keen to see what they think now it has all been removed and Brian is so pleased to be rid of it.

Work has started on the new pond and they are using the digger to make the hole and it is going to be a lovely central spot to sit and watch the fish.


The pond has a new rubber liner and is filled with water and for the edging they are reusing Brian's stones from his previous pond.

The pump is also still in good working condition so they are reusing that.

The seating area at the back is very important so that Brian can entertain his family there and Penny wants to mimic the shape of the pond for it.

The back of the area will be made up of a curved sleeper wall and they need to ensure that everything is built lovely and straight.

One of the trickiest job they have to do building this new garden is to transfer the fish from the paddling pool into their new homes!

They have been in the paddling pool for 5 years and the goldfish can live up to 25 years, they need to keep them happy and healthy.

Catching  fish

Brian thinks they will love it and Penny says how beneficial it is to wildlife to still retain a pond in the garden.

First job is to siphon some of the existing pond water into the new pond so that the fish will have their current ecosystem set up in the new pond.

Brian is supervising the move and nets and puts in the first of the fish, before they all have a go catching several at once.

Brian says they are relaxing to watch and helps keep him calm and some of the fish are proving harder to transfer than others.

Once they are all moved Brian says they all look very happy.


Next job is to remove the ugly paddling pool from the garden and they quickly fill up the third skip with the rubbish.

Penny is upcycling some old pallets into a planter which she makes look easy and it is quickly completed!

In the seating area, the semi circle wall is getting burnished using a gas cannister to burn the wood and give it an attractive finish.

tarnished wood

This finish is from 18th Century Japan and is called Shou Sugi Ban where it was done on the cedarwood walls of their homes to waterproof them.

Penny then sands back some of the burnished wood so you can see the grain.

They have had a downpour in the garden but Penny carries on getting Margaret's Ornaments back into the new garden.


Her statue takes pride of place in the gap in the seating area so her presence will be with the family when they meet up.

Final part is to plant up the garden and in the terrace area Penny has chosen Drought friendly plants like Silver Thyme, Lavender which will smell divine.

On the patio she has potted up some Oxeye Daisies and they add plants to the pond.

Homeowners Brian & Shane
Brian is being creative and is spray painting the metal shed and he is using his own design, military style camouflage.


Hopefully Brian can pull this off ! 

Penny tells them how amazing they have been at helping but now is the time for the team to take over to finish the garden so it will be a surprise and no peeking.

Danny thinks Diarmuid is going to be thrilled with the garden as the complete the garden makeover.

Diarmuid arrives and he thinks they have done a great job. 

The Grand Reveal

Brian & Shane here is your garden

The reveal

'It's great look at that' 'This is phenomenal' 'It looks lovely' 'Me and my Dad we're emotional people, but hold it in, mum would have been crying' 'This feels relaxing'

Finished garden

New patio to replace the ramp

Finished garden

Wildflower meadow


Finished garden

Greenhouse revamp

Finished garden

Raised vegetable beds

Revamped Aviary

Finished garden

New terrace and seating area

Brian and Shane look round the garden, spotting some of Margaret Ornaments and Brian cannot wait to start planting in his new garden area.

They love the seating area and cannot believe how different the garden is looking from how it was before.

The Team

Diarmuid asks them if it is what they hoped for and they agree its far more than that.

Brian is now thrilled with the garden and is no longer ashamed and cannot wait to be out in it all the time.

Shane says they have changed his Dad life as tears start to flow from everyone as Shane tells them how happy they have made his Dad.

The family arrive and Brian finally has a garden he can show off to them as his Daughter Michelle and Husband John arrive and they are amazed by it.

They all agree Mum would have loved the Garden.


The Team have all enjoyed making this garden for such lovely people and the final job is to hand over the garden to them with the gift of a fork and trowel for them to carry on the upkeep.

All Photographs are copyright of Channel 5

Project Manager
Paul Brady

Steve Griffiths
Malcolm Moore
Dan Goutorbe
Patrick Riley

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