Small Courtyard Garden East London
The client had lived in the house for a number of years and had refurbished the interior to a high standard. The garden had little to offer in terms of interest, containing just a ramshackle shed and some overgrown grass. The existing hard surface was compromising the damp proof coursing, so needed to be removed in order that the new finished height was compliant with building regulations. The client likes natural materials, with orange as an accent colour.
The design sought to deliver something for everyone, answering all the practical requirements while making the 5m x 4m space appealing to the eye. The side return was given dedicated for use by the children. Although a very small area it was packed with several features to entertain the kids. An archway marks the entrance onto which a variety of things can be hung, from a swing, to beaded curtains – it can change as the girls grow. Inside the area, a blackboard allows for a creative streak, whilst a sail will fuel imaginative play, where accessories can be added over the years.
Directly outside the backdoor a raised railway sleeper bed allows for vegetable growing whilst additional pots can be added if more veg growing is required. The flooring directly outside the backdoor is a mixture of Indian sandstone slabs, pea shingle and creeping thyme. A bespoke timber storage unit, big enough to house an adult bike, was constructed under the kitchen window in the main section of the garden. As it is a large structure for such a small space, it was masked as much as possible with planting and made more attractive with the addition of a living sedum roof. Flooring in the space is an Indian sandstone circle measuring 3.6m in diameter. A section of the outer ring was elevated to form the seat of a curved brick-built bench backed by a raised planting bed. The existing walls were rendered and painted and the fence panel mended.
Planting in the space was rich and romantic with deep plums and soft pinks set against zingy limed green varieties. A mixture of shrubs and herbaceous perennials, with several climbers maximises the planting space, while a specimen Acer atro purpureum takes centre stage in the raised bed, adding height and a focal point.
“When I first met Katrina, I felt she really understood what I was hoping to achieve; to transform my small, rather depressing garden in to a joyous, relaxing outdoor space, for myself and my daughters to enjoy. It needed to be attractive, but low maintenance, provide different spaces for adults and for kids, and provide enough storage for 3 bikes: quite a tall order in such a small space! Or so I thought, but Katrina quickly came up with a design which beautifully covered the brief.”