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This garden build was for a retired couple. They were looking for a garden designer in Leigh-on-Sea to give them an outside space to enjoy their later years in. They had recently bought their property as their retirement home as a downsize from Romford. They bought the property for the large garden and the aspect of the woods beyond. As a result the back of the garden was extremely shady and the client was keen to maximize as much sunshine as possible to the space around. It was a well maintained garden but had little interest to offer its current state. It was wide and steep in places so we suggested adding two dimensions of lawn. If the lawn was laid at a 45° angle it would make the garden seem much larger. A sandstone patio was to be placed in the side return and jutting out into the main garden space. Planting would be nestled in around the edges in the form of evergreen shade loving shrubs which would provide a low maintenance solution. The heavy oak timber frame Pergola was to sit over the table to allow for staging an outdoor room. To maximise the space in the evening, we would utilise the framework the soft lighting. Steps down from here to the path would take you across the lawn would lead to gates and the back fence providing access to the woods. The path would continue and take you to a second seating area in the bottom left corner. This area can be used for sunbathing, relaxing, as well as possibly including a fire pit in this area. The bed next to the house could be flush or if necessary raised to combat the different levels and to provide a retired couple easy access for gardening.
I just love a quirky touch in any garden design. I think it becomes a real talking point, it adds interest and gets people engaged and involved with the space. If you can make that quirky something a tactile material then it really heightens the senses. On a few occasions I have added a chain curtain to the garden design, an unusual material often used to keep flies out of kitchens in professional kitchens. It comes in a variety of colours, gold, silver, bronze as well as other metallic blues, greens, pinks and reds. I think it really adds a dash of va va voom to any space. Its shiny appearance not only adds a touch of luxury to the design, the movement it creates on a windy day can really add an extra dimension in the garden. That said, this isn’t its highest attribute. What it is really useful for is screening in the garden. And not just screening in the way that a trellis will just suffice, its perfect for example, if you wanted to screen off a trampoline. The ability to draw back the curtain in order to watch the children on the trampoline for safety, but then hide the trampoline from view really appeals to a lot of people. I have used this application in a number of gardens and it has worked wonderfully. It is also particularly useful as a screen when you need that privacy but don’t want to compromise on your light levels. Obviously a chain curtain let’s all light through but also gives you a degree of privacy. I like the industrial feel it gives to the garden design, if you add plants in front of it and then plants behind it it also creates the optical illusion of depth, perfect in any small garden. Cheap to install and bought by the length it’s a real winner in my book and one well worth considering if theres a need for garden screening and privacy i but want bang for your buck.
This client was looking for a garden designer in Rochford. They had a new build property which they had lived in for a number of years. The interior had been fully renovated so the client had turned their attentions to the garden which was a little unloved. They wanted to create a garden that had a real wow factor and also allowed them some space for the adults as well as the children. The client really liked the curved gardens that Earth Designs had shown them within the ED portfolio so Katrina created a large ellipse of lawn bounded on two sides by patio. An area for the dogs was to be created which can be fenced off. A selection of paving materials wrapped around the lawn would allow the client to travel from the lounge patio doors right down to the bottom of the garden. This was to be in black limestone setts and indian sandstone. Limestone paving was to provide the flooring in the main dining area which was to be situated under the pergola to provide respite from the sun. A double sided water blade allows for a focal point from within the lounge and also a play area for the dogs to occupy would sit in the space behind this. The pergola was to house perspex panels to create colourful lenses and also illuminated polyurethane balls to provide interest. The pathway travels across the space, doglegs in the centre and is edged with box hedging to enclose the lawn area from the dogs. To the right would be a large Cordyline or Australis tree which would be situated in the middle of the garden again to provide some shade. To the back of the garden blue perspex is affixed to the fences and two planters either end of a sofa. A large timber archway traverse the space will create a feeling of an outdoor room and further furniture can be sited underneath this area.
I was never a big fan of grasses in borders until I identified every planting scheme that I liked, had a grass in it. I began to look at them in a different way and realised that there was a huge selection to choose from. From airy willowy dry grasses, to evergreen more robust varieties. Grasses offer something that no other plant can, they can provide calm, compliment and enhance more colourful flowers or simply be the sole focus of design. There are grasses to suit every type of environment from shade to sun, dry to wet. There are evergreen varieties semi-evergreen varieties, as well as ones that perform well in containers and difficult environmental locations. Add texture and opposition to any planting scheme. Add a grass next to a box ball and you have an instant POW! Grasses also add movement and energy to the space, they can add translucency and semi-screen an area beyond. Some of my favourite all time showstoppers are:-
Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’ AGM: Pampas grasses have been much maligned, but this smaller cultivar is elegant and mixes well with other perennials and shrubs. Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Festuca glauca ‘Elijah Blue’: One of the bluest of fescues, ‘Elijah Blue’ forms a spiky dome. Trim back every few years in March to get rid of dead leaves. Height: 40cm (16in)
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ AGM: A compact cultivar with slim cream margins to its leaves, this miscanthus is ideal for small gardens and even containers. Height: 1.5m (5ft)
Pennisetum villosum AGM: The fluffy rabbits-tail-like seedheads of this grass are an instant attraction. Not the hardiest: needs sun and free drainage for the best results. Height: 60cm (2ft)
Stipa tenuissima: The fine blades of this grass dance even in light winds. Cut back in spring for fresh green growth, which ages to soft gold by late summer. Height: 60cm (2ft)
Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ (syn. ‘Golden Dew’): Compact and graceful, this grass has spikes of airy, reddish-brown flowers. Tolerant of shade and damp conditions, it is can be grown in gardens unsuited to many other ornamental grasses. Height: 75cm (30in)
For me now, most of my planting schemes contain some sort of grass somewhere in the garden.
This client has recently retired have bought a large property in Chingford, Essex. He was looking for a garden designer in Chingford that could deliver a solution for his overgrown space. The garden measured well over 200 foot had recently been cleared, but was sloping quite drastically from right to left. The client wants to incorporate many things into his garden so full design throughout was needed. Directly adjoining the back door would be hardwood non-slip decking. There would be a decked walkway going across the pond which the client keeps koi carp in. The decking then joins an indian sandstone patio which would be suitable for dining and entertaining. Spanning this a Pergola offers some respite from the midday sun and encourages the user to travel to the next section. This would take you to a specifically requested raised bed for growing dahlias. An indian sandstone patio will incorporate a summer house which overlooks Chingford Reservoir. The fourth space was an area of grass small enough for the clients to manage and also small enough to be artificial lawn should the need arise. Fruited espalier would divide the area from the final section which will be a workshop and to the right, a tool shed. Planting in the space was to be vibrant, and seasonally interesting. The client was keen gardener and was happy to help choose the plants to create a dream space.
One of the things I get asked foremost in my designs is a how to bring the inside outside. Sitting outside but making the space feel like an outside lounge is a really desirable option for a lot of people. There is nothing better than on a summers day to be sat outside, in comfort, in a beautifully planted and designed exterior space.
If you’re brave enough, it’s fun to bring little elements of the lounge out into the garden. There are many aspects of the interior which you can translate outdoors. In many of our outside spaces, we have included Wall Art. Taking a popular image and placing in an outdoor campus by hanging it on a vertical space in the garden works a treat every time and is relatively low cost.
You can play with fire in the garden by including a fireplace, either purpose-built or a reclaimed Victorian fireplace at intervals around, works really nicely. Couple that with the mantlepiece and you really have set the stage for the outdoor room.
Furniture is obviously very important. I try and encourage clients to really consider how they wish to use the space, particularly if it is small. I think our automatic notion is to have a table and chairs in the garden, however, if it was a choice of sitting on a soft and comfortable sofa or sitting at the table for a prolonged period of time, I would prefer the ‘sit soft’ option. You could also unite an outdoor room by adding a tiled rug on to the floor. There are many outdoor options available for this but simply a change in paving from black to white, slate to limestone can help to centralise and streamline an area and make it feel like your interior. Play around with ideas, look at your lounge and see how you wish to translate that into your garden. It works, it really does.
This client was looking for a garden designer in Chelmsford. They have a large suburban garden and wanted to utilise the space as much as possible. They were keen gardeners and had recently included a greenhouse towards the back left of the space. They also wanted to make sure the bottom of the garden was to be utilised thereby we included a fruited espalier tree to run along the back. It would also benefit from including a table and chairs in the back right hand of the corner. Two dramatic large ellipses of lawn would dominate the space. The one at the back was to be bounded by raised beds in blocks and painted white. A walkway which will be covered with A142 mesh, will be made into a tunnel at the centre running through the garden. A seconds panel allows you to travel to the lawn near the house. The first ellipse of lawn will incorporate the existing Magnolia tree. A142 mesh screening helps extend the garden and add heights inside the beds. The first ellipse of sandstone paving, incorporates a fixed bench seat and an oval table. This area was slightly lower than the rest of the garden so a step up to the lawn was required with a wall running around the inside helping it feel a sunken garden. The patio would run in a straight line, parallel to the house to ensure the exits across the back of the house will meet.
Everybody likes to have something that looks more expensive than it actually is. I am not by any means saying that all designers can produce a budget garden, but there are often cheap tricks that can make garden seem more expensive than it actually is.
Having a garden designed by a designer can often save you money, as having done this for over 15 years I know which items cost more money and also which features we have added into gardens that really pack a punch without making too big a dent in your wallet. I often think that if you step outside of your comfort zone and add a feature, material or item that you wouldn’t normally have considered, or is ordinarily part of that additional garden, you can really up the ante. Adding in these ideas often make your garden see more expensive certainly demonstrating that you may have researched gardens thoroughly, and also even employed the services of a garden designer to assist you in the layout and planning of the space. Challenge yourself with colour for example, use the luxiourious dark greys and blacks for your fences rather than traditional browns or greens. Plant one plant in great big drifts rather than one or two of a lot of different plants, this adds a real designers twist to any space. Planting one of each things makes a garden very busy and makes it difficult to create rhythm and style. Tempting I know, but try and avoid, especially in small gardens. Create levels where possible, it adds journey to the space and makes it more interesting and exciting for the end user. Add vertical lines, an archway, a trellis in an interesting material or a feature wall which will take the eye skyward. The garden is somewhere where you can be whimsical, try out new things, let your imagination run a little bit ahead of itself. The end results will pay dividends.
This free flowing garden design would be an ideal family garden design.
Inspired by a Japanese bedding cover from 1850 it’s free flowing dynamic shapes moves across the space and creates the sumptuous arcs and curves which could be packed full of planting. The bedding, simple in its colour is bold in its design and will lend itself to a wonderful organic sumptuous design, striking and luxurious in its appearance.
A woodland, natural style would really work well with the shapes and use of the pathway would carve a space and create pockets for a garden swing, den, or hide out. Soft ferns could nestle in with woodland bulbs, bluebells, snowdrops etc to create a really soft natural planting. Hydrangeas, peonies and viburnums could further compliment this scheme and echo the big blousey white blooms shown in the furnishing. Purple crocus, bluebells and crocus accentuate the cool colours depicted in this bedding, while dicentra spectabilis alba, astilbe rivularis and helleborus × hybridus ‘Double Ellen White’ offer further white ground cover in a shady spot.
Deep swirls and curves can be reproduced in the surfacing with either cobbles sunken into cement, pebble mosaic or gravel retained with some edging such as setts or a metal strip. The curves opening out into areas designed for relaxing or entertaining. Areas for children’s play equipment can be hidden amongst the planting or suspended from trees within the space.
Secret pockets of exploration would also work well, a hidden folly, a small campfire area, a willow den. All of these would be great for any family garden design and easily achievable within the style. The entertainment areas can set be in with a paved circle in sandstone or slate to provide ample space for a dining table and chairs or sun loungers. The pathway connecting the two clearings can widen as much as is required to include another area for another item of furniture, a bench, table, swing etc.
This client was looking for a garden designer in Chalkwell. They’ve owned their family home for a number of years and her three boys were all keen sportsman. The garden was tired and neglected and used as a cricket pitch and a little else. Their aim was to create a huge family space for the boys to enjoy as they grew older. They wanted to include a swimming pool with potential access to the house as all the boys enjoyed swimming and I felt this would be a great asset to the garden. A large area of artificial lawn would provide minimal maintenance for them and the undulating curves around the edge of the garden would form various patios and planting beds. An Indian sandstone patio directly outside the house would connect to patio areas towards the back of the garden. This area will be suitable for dining and could houses a large round table and chairs for multiple occupancy. The sandstone patio on the left hand side would used for sofas and coffee tables and would add a more relaxed setting. It could also include a fire pit for when the sun went down. Pleached trees across the back of the garden would allow for privacy in the garden and screen tennis courts beyond. The swimming pool was to be cited in the back right hand corner of the garden and have a decking floor. Bi fold doors in the house would mean that the garden becomes part of the house.