See the stunning transformation of backyard into award-winning garden by Sunderland firefighter using Gumtree, Facebook and the local beach

A Sunderland firefighter has shared his tips and tricks for making the perfect garden after his own transformation won a national award.

Saturday, 10th July 2021, 9:11 am
Gary McLaughlan, a firefighter from Cleadon transformed his garden from bland concrete walls to a stunning green space over
Gary McLaughlan, a firefighter from Cleadon transformed his garden from bland concrete walls to a stunning green space over

Gary McLaughlan, a firefighter from Cleadon transformed his garden from bland concrete walls to a stunning green space over four years for his partner, Lindsey Elliott, who spent time gardening as a child.

The firefighter has now won B&Q Gardener of the year for his beautiful 4.5m x 3.5m outdoor space.

Gary, 44 worked on his garden by adding features gradually, picking up new assets for the space over time from secondhand shops, Gumtree, Facebook market place and even from his local beach.

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An aerial view of Gary McLaughlan and his wife Lindsey in their garden. Issue date: Wednesday July 7, 2021. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

His winning garden was one of the smallest to be entered into the B&Q competition which features driftwood from the beach, stained glass windows used as a skylight, and planters made from an old RAF luggage trunk.

Gary, who has been a firefighter for 17 years said: “It was just a concrete garden and my partner, Lindsey didn’t have anywhere to go so I thought I’d create one myself.

"It was inspired by other gardens I’d seen and I just picked bits up over time while on holiday and out and about, then just worked on it during my days off.”

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The garden was a bare yard before Gary set to work transforming it

As part of winning the B&Q competition – which was judged by garden designers, Matt Childs and Humaira Ikram, B&Q Outdoor Category Director, Steve Guy, and comedian, Jim Moir – Gary will receive £10,000 in prize money, a B&Q Green Card which gives access to free plants and the B&Q Golden Trowel.

He added: “My family and friends are absolutely over the moon with the garden and we often get compliments on it.

"I couldn't believe it when they told me I'd won, I didn't know whether Lindsey was joking or not – It took a few days to sink in.”

Gary says the secret to creating a garden on a budget is to look for bargains.

Gary says his garden often get compliments. Issue date: Wednesday July 7, 2021. B&Q/PA Wire

The 44-year-old said: “If there's other like me who don’t have huge budgets to spend then I suggest looking for bargains and collecting small bits at a time rather than just doing it all in one go – Then you can just cobble it altogether.”

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Gary has spent four years building and cultivating his 4.5 x 3.5m garden for his wife Lindsey. Issue date: Wednesday July 7, 2021. B&Q/PA Wire