Win a grand for your garden competition

Winner: Megann Rees

After living in hospital for 10 months, Megann Rees from Oxford finally got to take her daughter, Ariella, home. Ariella was born with two rare conditions, CDH and Nager Syndrome, and was given only a 10% chance of survival.

Beating the odds and overcoming these unimaginable challenges, Ariella is now three years old and loves being outdoors and exploring, but until now, has not had anywhere safe to do this.

Their garden was a hazardous terrain of mounds of mud, wood chips, broken paving slabs, bricks and pipes. Ariella’s tracheostomy and vulnerability to infection from other children means that visits to the park are also fraught with risk.

Desperate to give her Ariella a garden to play in, instead of being stuck indoors, Megann entered MyBuilder’s ‘Win a Grand for your Garden’ competition and her entry gathered almost 5000 votes from the public.

“I never win anything normally, but I thought ‘I am going to try my luck’. I shared it on Facebook and saw the positivity that we were getting from it - everyone sharing and voting. It was was quite incredible to know that we had that kind of support around us. MyBuilder has give us our wish.”

The transformation

Landscape gardener Julie Arthur (Home and Garden Makeovers) got straight to work on designing a new sensory garden that would be an exciting and safe place that Ariella could explore and play in.

There was a lot of work to be done:

  • The mound of mud and broken slabs was dug out and levelled with a new retainer wall put in
  • Ariella’s trampoline was sunk into the ground, so that she can walk onto it by herself
  • A colourful, low maintenance shrubbery was created behind the retainer wall at the back thanks to generous donations of plants from Babylon Plant Nurseries
  • Raised beds full of bright flowers and herbs were put in along the left hand side of the garden
  • Julie created a sensory path using brightly coloured artificial grass running alongside the flower beds
  • A timber pergola was built over the brand new patio
  • To finish it all off, vibrantly painted trellis was fixed to the fence from which pots of flowers, a large outdoor chalkboard and colour changing solar lights were hung.

Julie, along with groups of volunteers worked tirelessly through torrential rain and scorching sun to get the project finished. Generous donations from Buildbase Oxford, Aasvogel Skip Hire, Babylon Plant Nurseries, L.J. & C.A. Cannings Machinery Hire and Travis Perkins helped to turn all the ideas into a reality.

Ariella is now running around and exploring her new garden by herself, something she has never been able to do before. With the garden finished just in time, the family will be celebrating Ariella’s third birthday this weekend.

“This is going to make such a dramatic difference to Ariella's life. It’s been heart breaking as a parent to not be able to give her what she needs, because we both had to give up work. She has been very isolated in the house. Now she can go outside, run around, feel everything and enjoy the bright colours - and just go a bit crazy like most three year olds. She has fought so hard, she really deserves this”

Runner up: Lucy Urquhart

Bath resident Lucy Urquhart entered MyBuilder’s ‘Win a Grand for your Garden’ competition hoping to make a difference to her son Hamish’s life. Hamish was struck with Meningitis at 18 months and was left profoundly deaf, with brain damage and balance difficulties.

Moved by Lucy’s story, the team at MyBuilder set about to organise a runner’s up prize.

Landscape gardener Steve Harris of Harris Tree Care took on the task of creating a fun garden for Hamish to explore.

Steven and his team built a balance beam which was concreted into the ground, put in large tree-trunk stepping stones across the flower bed, fixed up a wooden swing and laid a stepping stone path the length of the garden, to help Hamish get across the gravel.