Here’s a selection of some my recent garden design projects.
A Garden of Levels and Water
This is an established garden of levels, that has evolved over time. However, its layout is now proving challenging for its owner. Certain areas of the garden are very steep and there is an existing well that needs to be incorporated in to the design.
The brief was to rationlise the layout of the garden making it more user and maintenance friendly. A large seating area was also required, part of which needed to be covered and large enough to allow for outside dining.
A child friendly, garden for a new build house
This garden design was for a new build house with the garden space set on two levels. The upper needed to be paved and include a hot tub and storage. The lower level needed to be transformed from a sloping, barren waste ground to a child friendly garden with a level lawn area and places for play. The clients also needed raised beds for growing veg and fruit and places to sit and enjoy the garden. Privacy on the upper level particularly, was also important
A Steep Garden
My brief was to convert a very steep rear garden into a useable space for a growing family. It needed to include a lawned area and a place for a greenhouse, plus planting areas for both fruit bushes and herbaceous plants.
The garden was just a barren slope held back by a metre-high retaining wall. My design transformed it, so that now it can be enjoyed all year round. The brief was not only fulfilled but exceeded with additional design features making it in to a really special garden space.
Concept Design – Slimbridge WWT
This is a concept design that was entered in to a competition to design a new garden area for Sir Peter Scotts’s cottage at Slimbridge WWT.
The cottage was to house a display of his life and work and become a major new attraction at Slimbridge WFT. So, a new garden area behind and in front of the cottage was needed to add an extra dimension to the visitor experience.
My design reflected Sir Peter’s love of wildlife and birds, complimenting the age and vernacular of the cottage and providing a beautiful and interesting garden for people to visit.
The simple geometric layout of the design allowed large numbers of visitors to move freely through the space, ensuring full view of the planted areas and the centrally placed statue of a young boy (which was to be relocated from another location on site). The addition of seating provided visitors and staff with somewhere to sit and enjoy the garden.
The main walkways were smooth continuous resin bound gravel surfaces throughout, providing access for all visitors, including wheelchair users.
All the planting in the rear garden was made up of UK native wildflowers, shrubs, with a UK native tree species, also being included. So, the garden would be buzzing with insects and wildlife
The sunnier front garden area was to be planted up ‘potager style’ with a mix of vegetables, fruit and flowers.
Unfortunately, funding for the project was not possible in the end so the competition was closed.
A Cottage Garden
This was a large garden full of mature shrubs and trees. The previous owner had introduced a fair amount of hard landscaping which gave it a feeling of being over-compartmentalised and, along with the overgrown shrubs, meant that certain areas were under-used.
My plan was to keep key features such as the central pond, but to open the garden out and rationalise the space. The work was done in two phases and involved extending the terrace, creating new planting beds, including a wildflower area, and creating a series of interlocking circular lawn and gravelled areas in which to sit and enjoy the views.
A Disused Courtyard
Arts Centre Cafe, Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire
I was asked to come up with a low-budget design for a disused courtyard area attached to a vibrant arts centre where customers could sit outside and enjoy pre-performance and interval drinks. The site was sloping and an odd, triangular shape. It was also listed and in a conservation area.
To save space, I created a level decking area designed for standing rather than sitting. A lower-level area and ramp provided disabled access, and willow screens created privacy. Artwork by local sixth form students was incorporated into the design. I also suggested using retractable overhead screening so the area could be used in all weathers.
A Front Garden
This front-garden belonged to a 1790s red-brick house. The original brief was for a planting design, but I soon realised that the whole space needed a rethink.
The clients wanted an area that was wheelchair-friendly, sheltered, and pleasant to be in throughout the day. Although sunny in the morning, the garden became more shady later on, and traffic noise from the road was a problem.
I decided my priority was to provide an accessible private space that was linked to the rest of the garden, but had its own identity and feel.
To make it wheelchair-friendly, I suggested creating a flat, level area with wide brick-paved paths around a central rectangular bed. On the garden side, the garage would have red cedar cladding and a wide border in front planted with shade-tolerant shrubs and perennials.
I suggested crown-lifting the existing magnolia tree and adding seating underneath and square planted borders each side. Two new crab apple trees would be planted, and the existing, rather sickly cherry tree removed. A row of dogwoods in the border next to the road would provide flower and leaf in the summer and colourful stems through the winter. The rest of the border would be planted with roses, geraniums and other cottage garden perennials and bulbs.
I also suggested using special fencing next to the road to help reduce the traffic noise.
A New-build House and Garden
This garden – another long, narrow plot – presented me with some real challenges. As with many new-build properties, the topsoil was thin and poor-quality. The lawn was dotted with manhole covers and contaminated with builders’ rubble and broken glass. Another problem was that part of the boundary had to be kept free of planting in order to provide access to a sewer!
The brief was for a low-maintenance garden with minimal planting, a small, grassed area and space to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs. I chose an angular design to make the plot seem wider. Apart from a small area of grass and planted borders, all the top turf was removed and a geotextile membrane was put down with gravel on top.
Three triangular raised beds for fruit and veg were positioned close to the kitchen door. Large planters containing climbers were spaced evenly along the fence-line to provide colour, scent and fruit.
To add to the sense of width, I divided the garden into two using wooden screens set at an angle with a black shale path that matched the slate paving.
The planting borders were dug out and the soil replaced with good-quality topsoil and well rotted manure, which was also used to fill the raised beds. The area for the lawn was also dug out, with topsoil added and then turf laid on the top.
The client was thrilled with the result!
A Long, Narrow Garden
This garden was dominated by the remains of a large shed running down one side. My brief was to replace it with a cottage-style garden incorporating an existing young ash tree which the client was keen to keep, and including a children’s play area.
To make the garden seem wider, I chose a circular design and divided the garden in two with a wicker fence and archway. The area nearest to the house I laid out with semi-circular borders and a private seating area, adding a new tree to hide the view of a neighbour’s shed.
The play area was placed at the rear of the garden, where it was private and sheltered but could still be easily seen from the house. For safety, I recommended laying bark chips and wildflower turf in a wide band round the edge. The client was really pleased with the design and the planting scheme I devised to go with it.