Starting from Scratch

dsc_0077-2I thought it might be quite interesting to show how I go about designing a garden from scratch. This one is particularly interesting as it was for a very low budget ( well, it was low for me!) but it was for friends and neighbours so I didn’t want to refuse, even though the word ‘decking’ was used! Apparently I’d have to swallow my principles and use it, if I was going to bring the garden in on budget- GULP! (That was me swallowing my principles).

The first visit is always very telling. I was shown in to a very swish kitchen/diner, newly designed, with large eating area facing out through a wall of folding doors onto this:


They kept the blinds permanently closed because they felt so overlooked by that looming block of flats and hardly ventured outside. If you did go outside there was a nice summerhouse, a horrible shed  and not much else apart from children’s play equipment:img02486-20150326-1515img02484-20150326-1514

One of the first jobs was to raise the height of the boundary fence using close weave trellis to give more privacy on this side., and to create a dedicated play area for the children around the corner, out of sight of the main view out.img02680-20150710-1413-2dsc_0064-2

The bins also needed disguising as they had to be retained in the rear garden. So we built a close weave screen to match the trellis and hid them behind that. To keep a sweet smell, the trellis has an evergreen scented Trachaelospermum jasminoides growing up it:img02487-20150326-1516img02697-20150720-1658img02699-20150720-1658

The deck that we built enables the clients to seamlessly walk out from their kitchen into the garden without stepping down. The step comes later, along the path that links the existing summerhouse to thedeck. here it is being built:img02681-20150710-1413-2img02691-20150720-1630img02693-20150720-1632

And then to address the worst problem, that block of flats- what to do? I’m a great believer in paying out a bit of cash and solving the problem of privacy once and for all with evergreen pleached trees. So a trip with Jim to the nursery was in order to select the ones that would give the most cover. Long suffering Jim is rather good at providing a sense of scale- “Go on, climb onto the pot Jim!” Gosh, doesn’t he look happy……img02529-20150417-1424img02530-20150417-1430

I chose Quercus ilex, or evergreen Holm oak as it gives year round cover and that’s what’s needed here. So we’ve gone from this feeling of being in a goldfish bowl:img02486-20150326-1515

To this: Can’t see those flats now and the trees have only just been planted:img02694-20150720-1632

Of course, in my mind, it’s the planting which makes everything work together. In this case, it was a small garden that needed to look good 24/7 so I included lots of evergreen shrubs, climbers and little box hedges to give year round structure- around 70%. I also thought a limited colour scheme of blue,green, white and yellow would be calming and add a contemporary note to match their kitchen. So, it was off to buy plants again in that colour scheme:img02531-20150417-1523


A bit of bunting, some nice pots in full view of the windows and sofas to relax in with drinks- no need to keep the blinds closed now.


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