• red phone sketch 14

    Garden design hotline #14: A Hackney garden design on the small side

    Earth Designs was contacted by a client who needed a Hackney garden design. They were looking for a concept to complete the renovations on their property. However, the space was tiny, measuring 3m x 6m. Katrina, our senior designer had her work cut out.

    East London garden design

    Small and awkward garden

    This small garden design would be complex. Not only was the access very difficult being through the house, but also it was bounded on the left-hand side by patio doors. The client wished to pack a lot into the space, but also needed a lot of room for manoeuvre given the exit points from the house.

    Mixing up the textures

    Stone and pebbles hackney garden design

    An Earth Designs garden using mixed stone and pebble

    In order to create many points of interest, Katrina included lots of different textures. She switched it up with wood, stone and pebbles to allow the hard landscaping to do the talking. Simply placing stripes of varying textures across the space takes the pressure off the planting to perform.

    Integrated seating

    Whenever space is tight, Katrina often recommends integrated seating. By adding in a table and two benches, this dictated the dining area. These were to be construct it from concrete gabions, which could then be filled with concrete excavated on site to save on cost and carrying heavy materials through the house.

    Up the ante in the boundaries

    Whenever you are dealing with a small garden, it is always important to remember that your boundaries often have the biggest surface area of anywhere in the garden. Don’t waste them. Here, Katrina proposed cedar panel fencing to create a sleek and elegant backdrop. By including climbers, some in raised planters, the space could be greened up without taking up huge amounts of precious space.

    Book your free garden design consultation today by contacting Katrina and Matt on 01702 597587 or email us at info@earthdesigns.co.uk.

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  • How to link your garden design with your interior design

    One of the hottest tickets on the interior design calender is Decorex. Running for 4 days during the London Design Festival it is an opportnity to experience cutting edge interior design and see what the latest trends and materials are for the ultimate on trend pad.

    I always profess how your garden is an extension of your living space, and extra room, and should be treated as the same way as any creative interior design process. With so many of us reordering our living spaces to include bifold doors and large open plan living it is crucial your garden recieves the same billing as your inside space

    some things to consider:

    you spend more time interacting with the view from the


    Which colour to choose. It makes all the difference

    Which colour to choose. It makes all the difference

    Just so key in every design decision you make. It sets the atmosphere, mood and tone of the space. It is the easiest and most obvoius way to link your spaces. Paint a boundary panel the same colour, so it seamlessly flows along the vertical line. If you have used an accent colour in your interior design, pick it up outside with pots, plants or scatter cushions. Keep the tones and hues similar to create a cohesive unified look.

    Stick with your Style

    Garden styles

    Keep your style up. Match outside with inside

    Seems obvious but often doesn’t happen. If you have a modern interior don’t be tempted to switch direction when it comes to the exterior. It rarely works. Stick to the plan. If you need to add influences to suit your desires keep the simple and subtle. A small area of Moroccan tiling wont look too out of place if used in a small amount and maybe includes some of the colourway from the interior.


    Using the same flooring inside and out creates flow

    Using the same flooring inside and out creates flow

    It may seem really obvious, but if you can, it is Worth using a matching flooring, from the inside to the outside. This could be anything from a slate or porcelain tile, to polished concrete. This will really help unite the spaces, particularly if you have a set of bifold doors, and the floor level can be the same height. Well worth considering at the outset and including that in your brief to your architect or builder. We are big fans of porcelain tiles, they come in so many colours and effects that you have so much to choose from.


    Good lighting doubles the enjoyment of your garden

    Good lighting doubles the enjoyment of your garden

    Always remember, that you will spend more time interacting with your garden from the inside, then the outside. Your view from your bifold doors is the most important view in your life, so it’s important that you can get the most out of it at all times and days throughout the year. Get a good lighting design installed. Light trees, highlight hard landscaping detail, Don’t forget, you can have two different states, once looking at the garden, and one for being in the garden.

    Element of Surprise

    A kooky element to your exterior makes for a fun element to your outside space

    A kooky element to your exterior makes for a fun element to your outside space

    Put something in your garden that would ordinarily be an interior feature. Think about putting a fireplace outside, or a bath tub. It is playful and whimsical, and will really make the space feel like an extension of your home.



    Pack your interior with on trend botanicals

    Pack your interior with on trend botanicals

    This years must have Home accessory. Houseplants of always created a wonderful homely feel in the garden, but if you don’t have any, now is the time to revisit them. Place in a different size pots in groups of three or more. Mix up the leaf shape, colour and texture for added variety and interest. Botanicals up bang on trend and I’ve definitely a box ticker for bringing the outside indoors


    Seems obvious, but try hanging a large mirror on the wall facing your garden, so that you have the reflection of the garden as the backdrop for your interior space. It will also bounce light around, and create infinity. Thereby making your space seem larger, and definitely putting an exterior spin on your interior.

    Recreate the look

    Add botanically inspired prints and patterns

    Add botanically inspired prints and patterns

    If you have the opportunity to use pattern in your wallpaper or curtains, go for something to botanical. Link the garden quite literally with plants and flowers. Even if you do a fabric panel, accent cushions or a Belgian it will help make reference to what is happening beyond the patio doors. It really will give the feeling of bringing the outside indoors

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  • outside room

    How to take the inside outside. Creating the perfect outdoor room

    Personally I love nothing more than taking influences from the inside outside. Stylish things happen when you try to create an outdoor room. Fascinating juxtapositions of how we perceive outside space to look start to fall. Here we look at seven tips to get you started.

    Inside Outside: Tips for the perfect garden room

    Big bold with plants

    You can use plants beautifully your outdoor room. Keep them simple but big. Make them work hard for the space. Make sure they are evergreen, have interesting leaves, or a great shape. They can be used to divide your Open Plan space into small areas with out erecting walls. They can create zones within the garden and help soften the space. Better in my opinion. Consider the following plans to really sensationalise the space.

    • Tree Ferns
    • Trachcarpus fortunei
    • bamboo
    • silver birch
    • Fatsia Japonica

    Make your furniture count.

    This is where you can really go to town. Include an integrated seat in the garden. Making deep, and wide. This gives you the opportunity to dress it beautifully. Layer it up with soft furnishings. Add cushions. Then add some more. This is a great opportunity to introduce texture to the space. It will create depth and interest. Add a luxury is frozen fruit instant relaxed look.

    Light up

    Set the mood with Lighting. This can be your biggest game changer. Add strong spotlights, and pretty fairy lights. Add in a abundance. Remember as well huge array of candles and lanterns at your disposal. Lighting can make or break evening garden. Don’t dismiss it.


    It may seem very obvious accessories inside outside garden are essential. Add things to your beds in small groups. Put things on the walls such as mirrors or artwork. Maybe you could add an outdoor rug to the floor. Don’t forget to dress your table. It may sound silly but simply adding a vase of flowers in an otherwise foliage based scheme can really make you feel like the inside outside. Add pattern Where you can in your planters or soft furnishings.These bold touches will really pack a punch and to see you space elevated to the next level.

    Make a feature

    Think about feature walls that are all the rage on the inside. Try to include one in your outside space. Paint the brick wall dark colour and add accessories. They will pop out. Add something quirky to the space, it will become a talking point.


    Statement piece

    Go for it. Select something that is super-size. Go large to define the look. Here we used a golden chandelier to really drive home inside outside scene. Fairy lights wound around it, wall train plants were housed in the pot holders. Have some fun, try introducing a new material used in a different way. If your budget allows, get something made. You won’t regret it.


    If you live in London or the south-east and would like a London garden design consultation, please get in touch.

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  • More-space-created-on-the-main-patio-by-putting-it-on-an-angle.jpg

    Made with love: Leigh-on-Sea garden designer conjures up a creative solution.

    Although I rarely design gardens for friends, there have been occasions when I’ve been hijacked at social events (and even had invitations engineered) by people wanting to mine my skills and knowledge for free. ‘You must come round for dinner and have a look at our garden?’ “Oh, you’re a Leigh-on-Sea garden designer? I have a shrub at the bottom of my garden with yellow flowers, can you tell me how to prune it?”. Unfortunately some people view what I do as more of a hobby than a profession honed through years of experience and hard work.

    John and Anthony are different though. John was one of my first clients way back in 2003 and I have remained close friends with him, and more recently Anthony, ever since. They are two of my most favourite people, so much so that they are Goddaddies to our two young sons. They are adored by us all.
    John and Anthony with our sons, their godchildren
    So, I was a little mortified that when they decided they wanted to change the garden in their current home, they didn’t immediately turn to me.

    “We thought you were too busy, we didn’t want to bother you”.

    “It’s a wedding present, of course I will design your garden”

    “I don’t like plants”. Anthony was really not bothered about the garden. Naturally he wanted a nice space, but didn’t care for gardens. “I want a lawn”.

    Both the boys work long hours, so we needed to create a space that was low maintenance, practical and yet would give them somewhere stylish and inviting to relax and entertain. They were keen, initially, on replacing like with like. The large raised pond at the bottom of the garden was to remain, as was the fairly ugly brick outbuilding. Anthony, as mentioned, was very keen on retaining some lawn.

    I started to work up some ideas with them, and slowly managed to persuade Anthony that if we managed to ditch the lawn in favour of more planting, the effect would be more pleasing and easier to maintain. I suggested that simply turning the landscaping on an angle would make the garden feel like a very different space.

    This Leigh on Sea garden needed putting on an angle

    This Leigh on Sea garden needed putting on an angle


    Designing to budget

    As the boys were on a tight budget, I was keen that we used a few exciting materials so that they could really feel that the garden had the wow factor. The pond needed to remain, so I suggested rendering it and adding some shiny metallic glass tiles to the top to make it more glamourous. Instead of a timber pergola (to protect the koi carp in the pond), weathered Corten steel laser cut decorative panels would provide a more exciting canopy, casting shadow and creating patterns in the space. A seat built into the side of the pond would allow somebody to stop and look at the fish in comfort, while helping to integrate the large feature into the rest of the design.

    A space to relax next to the Koi pond

    A space to relax next to the Koi pond

    Tackling the Boundry

    The fences around the boundary were mismatched. They had a beautiful established wisteria which they wanted to retain, but, as it always the case with small gardens, it is difficult to hide the boundaries. They can be very unforgiving. I suggested drenching them in a dark grey fence paint to provide an elegant receding backdrop to the planting. A brick wall by the house (which is visible from the conservatory) would be clad with a panel of Mineral Grey perspex from their Naturals range, to provide a sleek, contemporary look.

    Panels of Perspex, next to the seating areas give a clean contemporary look

    Panels of Perspex, next to the seating areas give a clean contemporary look

    Twisting the lines

    Simply twisting the angle of the decking gave the overall layout a very different look and feel. This enabled the area of decking closest to the house to be expanded, allowing for a more comfortable seating area. The shortest edge was next to the side gate, as well as the back door, so was then able to be left relatively free for easy access to the bottom of the garden. I proposed a lightweight concrete elliptical planter to be placed at the edge of the decking to tie in with the curved pond at the back of the space.

    More space created on the main patio by putting it on an angle

    More space created on the main patio by putting it on an angle


    Greening it up

    Planting in the space is a mixture of soft floral plants, as well as some architectural showstoppers. I also managed to sneak in some culinary surprises, as Anthony likes to cook. Suffice it to say Anthony is now totally into plants and keeps taking photographs to show me the ones he would like to include in the scheme.

    soft flowers sit amongst architectural specimens with a few culinary surprises

    soft flowers sit amongst architectural specimens with a few culinary surprises

    The garden is now under construction and John and Anthony are very excited. If you are looking for a Leigh-on-Sea garden designer please get in touch. Please follow our garden design Facebook page for updates on its progress.

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  • Circular-archways-create-journey.jpg

    Shenfield garden designer needed to breathe new life into outdoor space.

    Jevin and Lauren called Earth Designs as they were looking for Shenfield garden designer. They wanted to give the garden a facelift. They were due to move in in a matter of weeks, and wanted to unite the space into something more exciting. They were having the interior renovated, and wanted the outside space to reflect high end design.

    Shenfield in need of a garden designer

    Shenfield in need of a garden designer



    Garden space to unite the space

    Garden space to unite the space


    The Patio

    The existing paving will remain, as will the existing raised beds which will be rendered and painted dark grey for a modern unified look. The main area of the upper garden will feature a series of circular lawns, edged with sandstone setts and connected by curved pathways constructed from sandstone setts.

    Circles are placed through the space linked by paths.

    Circles are placed through the space linked by paths.

    The Lawns

    A small lawn closest to the house will lead to a second, larger circular lawn which will feature a sandstone stepping stone pathway with the lawn around one half of the circle. A sandstone sett pathway will lead from this lawn to the existing sandstone circle in front of the poolhouse.

    A series of circular lawns run through the space

    A series of circular lawns run through the space

    The Pathways

    A sett pathway running along the poolhouse will arc down the garden to a final large circular lawn at the bottom.

    Pathways edge circular lawns in sandstone setts

    Pathways edge circular lawns in sandstone setts

    The Archways

    Large circular timber archways installed at intervals across the paths helps to break up the garden and provide height and a sense of journey.

    Circular archways create journey

    Circular archways create journey


    Planting in the garden will be classic and elegant, featuring block planting in greens and whites with plenty of texture and year-round interest give the garden a fresh vibrant look. Tall hornbeams curving through the centre of the garden will also add height.

    Pleached trees echo the circular lawns

    Pleached trees echo the circular lawns


    The fencing to the left hand side along the pool will be replaced with cedar panel fencing, whilst the rest of the fencing in the garden will be painted dark grey. The lower patio adjoining the house would benefit from an L-shaped outdoor rattan sofa and some illuminated PVC planters.

    Cedar fence panels and Black Perspex form feature boundaries

    Cedar fence panels and Black Perspex form feature boundaries

    To see more images of this garden please look at the Pinterest board and to see it’s progress please check out the album on our Facebook page. If you are looking for a Shenfield garden designer, or live in Essex I need your garden transformed, please give us a ring.

    Bellhouse, Art Deco and Kadinsky are the influences here

    Bellhouse, Art Deco and Kadinsky are the influences here


    Circles both vertically and horizontally link the garden

    Circles both vertically and horizontally link the garden


    Various viewpoints show how the garden links together

    Various viewpoints show how the garden links together


    Green and white planting scheme makes for simple fresh look

    Green and white planting scheme makes for simple fresh look

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  • Modern garden design sketch

    Seeds of design: Mixing up a Danish garden

    A fascinating trip to the Danish Design Museum revealed it was full of modern classics, charting the history of design and decorative arts. One gallery included these extraordinary Ole Jensen mixing bowls. Humans have always needed a bowl and you would think it was difficult to redesign the obvious, but these are quite simply an extraordinary ordinary bowl, bowls that inspired this Danish garden.

    The seed of inspiration

    These fabulous mixing bowls made from Melamine were designed in 2011. Manufactured in Copenhagen, they reek of fabulous Danish design and there is a bowl for every purpose. Design at its best, they have a wide spout suitable for pouring liquids of thin and thick consistencies.

    Jensen mixing bowls, a modern classic

    Jensen mixing bowls, a modern classic

    The garden design bud

    This design is directly inspired by the wonderful curvy shape of the mixing bowls. Interlocking pear-shaped surfaces fill the garden. Two patios are connected by a curvy pathway that cuts across a large lawn. Cut into the patios is a bed perfect for a specimen tree to really pep up the space. Sandstone sets edge the lawn to keep it neat and tidy. Box tree balls positioned at intervals accentuate the curved design with an architectural feel. Simple ground cover planting, such as pachysandra, keeps an evergreen interest going and the high sheen on the leaves replicates the Melamine material.

    Garden design of modern mixing bowls

    The Ole Jensen-inspired garden

    Other influences bloom

    I love the interlocking nature of these bowls. They will remind me of Russian dolls, or Tupperware boxes that stack inside one another. The clever, compact design and the use of the thumb handle really appeals. The two interlocking patios also remind me of sperm! The wonderful pictures of Beryl Cook, famous for her curvy ladies also feature here. I like the idea that this nest of bowls, is a group of very curvy ladies!

    Danish garden Ole Jensen inspired design

    Influences come from everything from spam to Russian dolls plus the wonderful pictures by Beryl Cook

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  • Garden design sketch based on Baroque theatre

    Seeds of design: Tread the boards in this baroque garden

    This wonderful baroque theatre formed part of V&A’s Opera: Passion, Power and Politics exhibition. I love the sense of nostalgia, reminding me what theatre sets used to look like in bygone days. The sense of false perspective created by this exhibit was fascinating and it inspired me to design a baroque garden.

    Baroque theatre

    The replica baroque theatre at the V&A. Photograph: Marion Burnier/Hawthorn

    The seed of inspiration

    Baroque style is ornate and often extravagant. It encompasses architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the late 18th century. This wonderful replica of a baroque period theatre really captured my imagination. It is a moving installation and plays Handel’s 1711 opera Rinaldo as the scenery turns. The theatre is hand-painted and very atmospheric. As well as viewing the exhibit from the front, backstage you can see all the rope and pulley workings that bring it to life.

    Garden design sketch based on the baroque theatre

    Garden design sketch based on the baroque theatre

    The garden design bud

    I wanted this design to have the feeling of depth. Two platforms are sat in the space diagonally opposite each other, decked in timber to represent the flooring of the stage. These areas are joined by decking pathways. Each route has a minimum of two feature arches. These are made up of a variety of materials to create depth and add texture and interest. Chain curtain, timber archway or a slate wall with a door beckon you to pass through to the area beyond. In the centre are a series of frames: a mesh panel, a solid Corten-steel wall, and another timber frame. These help to frame a specimen plant. Similar to the theatre, the whole structure is designed to be viewed primarily from the front, but also from the reverse

    Other influences bloom

    Baroque is so dominant that it is hard to mix with any other inspirations. The mood board contains images of Marie Antoinette and St Paul’s Cathedral.

    Inspiration comes from Baroque footings.

    Inspiration comes from baroque features

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  • 20170514_154309

    In the Shedquarters – Go modular for alternative garden fencing

    Finding alternative garden fencing is always tricky, but this fabulous product allows you to create garden walls, in the same way you would install a new fence. Bingo! When I am designing a lot of London gardens the boundaries are crucial. They are often the biggest surface area of the space and really need to work hard to provide a great backdrop for planting and hard landscaping.

    A fabulous alternative to a fence

    A fabulous alternative to a fence

    Ramp up your boundaries

    Get it right, and your garden will have the edge. Get it wrong, and no matter how beautiful your products are with in the garden, the backdrop will let it down. Shiplap fencing never looks good, occasionally you can get away with it if you paint it dark grey, however if you can introduce another more dynamic material you can help give the space the edge.

    New kid on the block

    This ingenious wall creating system from Modular Walls is long overdue. They have a range of different wall products for different applications. The slim wall is very similar in dimensions and installation to a fence. Perfect if you want to have the walled garden you have dreamt of. It offers a durable and lightweight solution to pep up your perimeters. Priced from £43 per linear metre, it is certainly more expensive than a standard wood fence, but substantially cheaper than building a block wall.

    More to it than meets the eye

    As well as providing an attractive alternative to fencing, there’s more to it than meets the eye. The slim wall makes a noise barrier that is fully capable of preserving peace and quiet as well as retaining privacy. It punches well above its weight when it comes to its acoustic performance. Perfect for any gardens that are sited next to a busy road, school, or generally in a noisy location

    Every think you need it to be

    This product, is also capable of handling lighting, different colour paints, or mounted accessories. Perfect if you were trying to streamline your boundary and create unity. These garden walls are a great alternative to fencing.

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  • garden design essex

    Rayleigh Garden Designer needed to add some vra vra vroom to a space

    Our client was looking for a Rayleigh Garden Designer to restyle her outdoor space for her to enjoy. She had lived in her new build house for several years and had done little to the garden aside from some decking which was now looking tired.

    Rayleigh Garden Designer needed

    The Brief

    This client has lived in the property for a number of years. She bought the house as a new build and apart from the installation of some decking little has been done to the garden. Overall it has a sunny aspect, but there is a dead space towards the rear of the garden which does not get any sun at all. The client would like a space that offers more interest in which she can relax and entertain. She may choose to sell the property in a year or two, so the design needs to offer generic appeal to potential future inhabitants.

    Garden sketch of ideas for Rayleigh garden design

    The Layout

    The layout of the new design has the features installed variously at parallel and 45° orientation to the house. A large patio laid with 600mm x 900mm porcelain slabs will adjoin the house to create areas suitable for dining and relaxing. This patio will be bisected with a decked walkway running diagonally up the garden from the gate to the garage door.

    Twisting the space

    Livening up the boundaries

    The wall on the right hand side of the space will be rendered and painted dark grey to make the planting stand out. The rear boundary will be clad with black painted panels constructed from horizontal battening to create a stylish and contemporary backdrop to the space.

    The boundaries are treated to an overhaul

    Creating Rhythm

    Three Cor-ten steel planters backed by a Cor-ten steel laser-cut screen will be installed along the left side of the decked walkway to create a stunning focal point to the garden. The centre of the garden will be turfed, with a small decked seating area in the bottom right corner which would be large enough to accommodate an arbour or swing seat.

    Adding rhythm with a trio of planters

    Greening up the space

    Planting in the space will be a mixture of evergreen shrubs and long flowering perennials to provide texture and colour throughout the year.

    Planting is a mixture of evergreens and perinneals

    Do you need help with your garden?

    . To see more images of this garden please look at the Pinterest board and to see it’s progress please check out the album on our Facebook page. If you are looking for a Rayleigh Garden Designer, or live anywhere in Essex or London please get in touch for your garden makeover


    Influences include Penguin books, trimphones and Art Deco adverts Decking and paving detail creates drama in the spaceA scale plan tells the story of the spaceDifferent angles in the space



    Plenty of shape and texture from the plants

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  • red phone sketch 13

    Garden design hotline #13: A family garden in Essex adds sophistication

    This client had a family garden in Essex that required a brand new design. Our senior garden designer, Katrina Kieffer-Wells, gave them a free consultation to come up with solutions for the plot.

    Ideas for a family garden in Essex

    Essex family garden ideas

    A modern family garden in Essex

    The interior of the property had been refurbished and included some fabulously architectural angles. Katrina wanted to bring that out into the garden and extended the wall out into the space across the main area of decking. An area of decking also ran off to the left-hand side of the boundary, extending the vertical lines and creating flow throughout the space. A bench and table would be positioned in this area for leisurely family dining.

    Retaining garden walls

    Rattan three piece suite for family garden in Essex

    An example of rattan furniture in one of our other garden designs

    An L-shaped retaining wall enclosed the main entertaining area. Nestled in to the right-hand corner would be a rattan sofa, offering a soft-seating option. Directly opposite the main back wall, a water blade was to be mounted into the wall, offering a stunning focal point visible from the front door. The water would fall into an aggregate rill, and be covered in Perspex or a glass walking platform.

    Space for the family

    Beyond the main dining area, a large area of lawn would fill the rest of the space. Artificial grass would minimise maintenance, and a myriad of children’s play equipment could be placed on it without compromising the lawn quality. Three large archways, each receding in width, work to allow a choice of children’s play equipment to be hung from them, provide shade, or to create a den.

    Privacy from other neighbours

    Fibreglass planters for family garden in Essex

    Fibreglass planters add a funky modernity to the garden

    Privacy is often a problem in small urban gardens, and this was no exception. In this Essex garden design, Katrina proposed that a series of fibreglass planters be positioned along the rear boundary, and contain silver birch trees. This raised the planting height by 1m and also gave further screening above the fence height.

    If you would like some garden design advice, and you are looking for Essex Garden Design, book your free garden design consultation today by contacting Katrina and Matt on 01702 597587 or email us at info@earthdesigns.co.uk.

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