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About Sam Charles

Sam started her UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze in 2013. Often accompanied by her partner in crime, Petal (the mini lop), she is an digital influencer, blog coach and a GAIQ SEO consultant. Sam spends most her time booking spa getaways, sea kayaking or dining out with friends and family.

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too!

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been deep cleaning the house and preparing the garden for summer. Okay, okay, yes it’s a little bit crazy that when business is booming and the wedding is literally days away we’ve decided to give ourselves all this extra work… But it’s really important that our house is lovely and clean when we leave it for our honeymoon, so when we come back we’re not coming back to lots of jobs to do.

We’ve had astroturf in the garden since I moved in 4 years ago, and I’ve never truly been happy with it. It never looked real and it was always wet and horrible (we live in England, why didn’t I think of this before!). The garden became a dumping ground in the winter and it ended up getting so out of control. One wet soggy day I decided just to rip the whole thing up and replace it with decorative stones. Little did I know how much of a job it was going to be but we’re FINALLY✨ getting there (not finished!).How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Why we chose gravel

Decorative stones can come in all different shapes, sizes and colours and they can play a variety of different roles in a garden from providing driveways to creating a unique garden border.

Gravel is easy to maintain, by topping up with extra aggregate if needed or if the area becomes dirty. There is also a range of colours and shapes to suit your home and outdoor space from traditional or creating a modern flair. Crushed gravel is ideal for pathways or driveways as the stones fit and come together.

It is a cost-effective and low maintenance way to decorate your outdoor space. Other than being cheap and low maintenance, there were two other reasons we opted for gravel, as opposed to alternatives such as patio:

  • Drainage – The use of decorative stone can be an ideal solution for drainage in your garden, pea gravel which contains small round stones are available in different sizes and colours. Pea gravel can provide decorative drainage for flower pots and beds.
  • Weed Control – Placing stones on a rockery or border can help prevent unwanted weed growth. It is ideal to remove any pre-grown weeds and roots before placing the stones, the stones will then create a barrier and prevent any regrowth of weeds or unwanted plants.

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

It’s pretty versatile, too. The use of decorative stones on a driveway is becoming increasingly popular and is a great way to add a personalised touch to your home. With an aggregate driveway, no matter how heavy your vehicle is you do not need to worry about damaging the material underneath the wheel, stones for driveways and paths are extremely durable and do not chip and crack with excessive wear.

Storage

We received this shed c/o Wayfair a couple of months ago, which was great because it’s something we really needed. We always wanted to put some type of storage underneath the decking but struggled to find something that would fit. Luckily we found this one, and with a bit of DIY, we managed to get it underneath the decking. The great thing is, we also have tons of room behind the shed to store bits and bobs, too without it being an eyesore.

As you can see, it’s still not finished. This is where we still need to do a ton of work like pressure washing the walls and floors, cleaning the kayaks and organising the shed a little bit more (perhaps put some shelving in there). But for now, it does the job and it’s had a decent clear out. These are always things we can do another time and at least now we know it’s only an afternoon job, rather than a mammoth task.

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Landscaping

Honestly, who would know that going to garden centres and filling your garden with luscious plants and shrubs would be oh so satisfying? I love shopping but I never thought I’d care about getting my hands dirty in the garden to plant some flowers. It’s pretty addictive and there’s so much to learn about when it comes to gardening and it’s pretty cool to see them flourishing. My fiancée says I’m old before my time because I like to bake fresh bread instead of buying it at the shop and I get excited about going to the garden centre to get new bedding plants 😂

Buying plants can be mega expensive, so we’ve started with some plug plants and small bushes, as opposed to buying mature trees etc. It’s slow progress, even our Jasmine tree is almost 4 years old and it feels like it’s barely grown, but it isn’t in the best spot. We might end up investing in some more plants but for the meantime, this will do (especially as we’ll be on our honeymoon this summer and barely be able to properly enjoy it!).

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Borders and Planters

Another good thing about decorative gravel can create an appealing border and can help protect plants from the attack of weeds. Using an aggregate with plants can help keep moisture into the soil the summer months. Depending which gravel you choose you can create different effects, whether it is natural or sand effect to blend in with other natural elements such as stonework and paving or black gravel to add a dramatic modern effect to your outdoor space, there is a large range that will suit any project.

Gravel is also a good way of adding extra drainage to your outdoor space and can protect excess water from building up and damaging foundations. Our hydrangea bush and border flowers are only just beginning to flower (and some haven’t even got that far), so I’m going to leave it a few more leaks until layering our pea gravel over these. We’ve started to do it for our rose bush and jasmine in the corner though, as these are a little bit more mature and I figure they’d be able to handle it.

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Decking 

We had the decking put in when the house was built and although it requires a little bit of upkeep, I do love it. I’m always so surprised how much better it looks when it’s been pressure washed and been stained. This year we decided to go for a slightly deeper colour, teak. Every year we seem to opt to go a little darker to cover a multitude of sins but I actually prefer it being dark like this. We’re planning on pressure washing and staining the fencing and decking surrounding the gravel area, too which will bring it all together.

When we were talking to our friends and family about re-doing our garden lots of people said about getting more decking at the bottom of the garden, but there are a few reasons that turned us off it. Firstly, it’s waaaay more expensive and time-consuming to install, especially when you have a wonky shape garden like ours. Secondly, we liked the contrast that the gravel gives to the garden, instead of it all being one colour.

How we transformed our garden with less than £100, and you can too! | UK Lifestyle Blog

Cost breakdown

  • Bulk bag 800kg grey 20mm gravel £40 delivered from a local supplier
  • Colours teak matt decking stain 2.5L £20 from B&Q
  • Bedding plants, planters and shrubs £39 from a local hardware store

The thing that really transformed our garden here (other than blood, sweat and tears), was the gravel. So, if you are looking for a healthy-looking garden with low maintenance the use of decorative aggregate may be for you, it is easy to manage throughout summer and can create some stunning features in a garden adding colour and character. For landscaping projects, it allows you to keep the cost down as a decorative aggregate are cheaper than paving or other more extensive projects and you can enjoy your garden rather than maintaining it.

2019-04-12T16:49:57+00:00 April 12, 2019|Home Decor|

5 Money Raising Ideas for Mum’s in Need of a Boost

Having kids is the most wonderful thing in the world – but let’s be honest it can be a costly affair! This can no doubt put some people in financial difficulty at times which can be hard to get out of – so we have listed some money raising ideas if you are struggling to find cash to pay the bills.

5 Money Raising Ideas for Mum’s in Need of a Boost | UK Lifestyle Blog

Hold a Car Boot Sale

If you have a look around your house – there will no doubt be things that you no longer want but could be of value to someone else. Why not get them all together and put on a car boot sale or a garage sale? It could be a great way to make some extra cash. It’s also a great way to socialise and get to know other people in your neighbourhood. 

Sell Items on eBay

If you are quite computer savvy – then creating an eBay account could be the way forward.  The great thing about selling items on eBay is that you can fit it around your everyday life and what you are doing with the kids. 

It’s quick for you to simply take photos and upload them to your account, and as people can place bids for the items – the likelihood is that you might get more money for them.

Pay Day Loans

If you have a short-term cashflow problem – then a payday loan could be a good way to get you out of trouble. There are companies like Cash Lady that will help you process your loan application in just 2 minutes and allow it to be seen by more lenders. 

This means there is a higher chance of success. You can pay it over a certain number of months at a reasonable repayment plan – which you can work out with Cash Lady if you decide to move forward with this option.  Although not a long-term solution, it’s something that could get you out of a tight spot.

Do Some Freelance Work

There are lots of jobs that you can do that will allow you to work around family life and any other work commitments you may have. People make lots of money by writing content, photography, videography etc – and it can end up being a passive income for you. Once you start to build yourself a portfolio – the work will come in all by itself on recommendations if you use freelance sites where clients can leave their reviews.

Ask a Family Member

Although it may not be your first choice, family members are always there to lend a helping hand should you need it. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for some help if you are struggling. They won’t think any less of you and you can pay them back when you can. It might be a difficult or uncomfortable conversation at first, but one that could help you out a lot.

If you are looking for some ways to generate some cash – then hopefully these handy tips will help!

2019-04-08T22:20:00+00:00 April 8, 2019|Post|

Wedding Season: Choosing a Wedding Guest Outfit (Minus the Stress!)

It was April Fool’s the other day, and it was no drill when I said: “we’re getting married this month!”. It feels like only yesterday we were talking about how the wedding was 2 years away, and now it’s a couple of weeks away. There’s a couple of bits we still need to organise but we’re pretty much there. I’m sure there’s something important I’ve forgotten to do… Turns out, people worry a lot when it comes to choosing something to wear to a wedding.

We’ve had so many people ask us if what they’ve chosen is OK. Honestly, we don’t care what people wear to our wedding, as long as they’re there and they’re comfortable. I completely understand why people find it stressful though, there’s nothing worse than turning up somewhere and feeling under or overdressed. There’s also etiquette around what is allowed and what isn’t allowed, which quite frankly, is silly.

Wedding Season: Choosing a Wedding Guest Outfit (Minus the Stress!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

Shopping for a special occasion outfit should be fun (shopping should NEVER be stressful!). Here are some helpful little tips from a real-bride if you’re on the hunt for something to wear to a wedding.

Consider the time of year

Are you heading to an A/W or S/S wedding? If it’s going to be cool, consider darker colours such as navy, deep red or emerald green. Alternatively, if it’s warm then you might want to opt for a lighter colour like pale pink, powder blue or nude. Pinterest is a great place to begin if you’re completely lost for ideas.

Think about comfort

If you’re going to a wedding, chances are, it’s going to be a long day. Choose something you’re comfortable in. There’s nothing worse than wearing an outfit and constantly worrying if your hair clips are falling out or if you’ve got sweat patches. No, no, no. These shouldn’t be things you should be worrying about at a wedding.

Wedding Season: Choosing a Wedding Guest Outfit (Minus the Stress!) | UK Lifestyle Blog

Don’t break the bank

Lots of our guests have asked us what they should wear, and as I mentioned, we’re very laid back about this. There’s no need to bankrupt yourself just because you’re going to a wedding. Dig something out from the back of your wardrobe and pair it with some cheap high heels from Uppersole. If you don’t think you’ve got anything suitable, get down the charity shop!

Check the weather

Should you pack a raincoat or a pashmina? It’s difficult to predict the weather in the UK but usually, you can get an idea of what the weather is going to be like. Consider the wedding venue, too. If it’s going to be in a field, you might want to be mindful of the weather a bit more so than if it’s an indoor affair at a manor house.


If you’re unsure or you’ve got a couple of potential outfits in mind but don’t know what to order, put your mind at ease and double-check with the bride. If she’s anything like me, she’ll love it! It’s so exciting receiving pictures from my friends taking selfies in the mirror saying “Omg! Which one do you like? I’ve ordered 5 dresses 😂”.

2019-04-03T18:53:17+00:00 April 3, 2019|Weddings|
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