In his first blog post for Thompson & Morgan, gardener Richard Laker writes about the challenges of gardening on a budget…

My name is Richard Laker, I am (just) the better side of 30. I live on the North Essex coastline and this is the start of my second full year gardening at this house.

I should probably explain that I have a wife and two children, two dogs and a cat, all of whom (apart from the wife) throw unexpected challenges on my gardening aspirations and also require feeding, which sadly leaves less than desired money to spend on the next project.

Gardening on a budget

View from the back door

When we moved in, in late August 2012 I was recovering from complications following surgery and couldn’t wait to start getting the garden in a happier and healthier state, but in the process it has received many ‘tweaks’ which has kept me busy.

Gardening on a budget

The damaged fence

Last year was a challenging one as we got our first family dog, a working welsh sheepdog puppy, called Kiyo, which soon taught me that things were going to have to change if I ever wanted to see a full plant life cycle ever again.

Gardening on a budget


Being on a very tight budget requires a lot of improvisation when different challenges arise. Stopping Kiyo from eating the various garden plants and shrubs that are poisonous to dogs and running through the different beds was one of them.

I started to try to dog-proof the garden by raising the flower beds on the patio section, for which I needed a cheap and effective boundary that I could try and train him from jumping on. I thought about and priced up a number of ideas to raise the beds but my finances couldn’t stretch as far as I had hoped, so I improvised. This time it was with some bricks left over from a neighbour’s building work. I literally dug a five inch trench alongside the path and plonked the brinks on their edges and started to fill the borders with a mixture of compost and well rotted manure. It mightn’t be as aesthetically pleasing as it could’ve been but it was a cheap, effective and environmentally friendly way of sorting the problem. Luckily Kiyo was a very quick learner and learnt that past the bricks was off limits!

Gardening on a budget

My 1st place T&M award winning Begonia ‘Inferno’ hanging basket and my stunning Tree Lilly ‘Yellow Rocket’

I then decided that I needed to separate the garden in half: dog end and dog-free end. I started to divide the two ends of the garden with old pieces of wooden slats that were laying around (from my son’s bed) and made an awful attempt at a picket fence.

Gardening on a budget

First fence attempt!

It did the job for a couple of weeks before Kiyo realised that, if he ran at it fast enough, it would collapse. The next idea I had was to try something I hadn’t done before and that was to set three fence posts into the ground and fit 6X6 trellis panels to securely cordon off the two areas. First I wanted to move the existing garden path from the edge of the garden to the centre which would help me fit the posts to provide most support to the panels. I was in the planning stages when I was given a large black gate which, coincidentally, was the exact size for the gaps in the trellis panels and this is the semi-finished result.

Gardening on a budget

Nearly finished…

The summer continued to present more troubles but I hope to explain more in my next blog.

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