The clients had not lived in the space for very long and had not yet spent a summer there. Their plot was an entirely blank and featureless space and they were finding it difficult to envisage how to create a garden. They invited me to create a plan for front and rear gardens that they could then implement. Sensibly, the clients wanted to get involved with the build of the garden to allow the budget to be spent wisely on better materials and more mature planting. The property comes with an exceedingly large plot of land so the clients desire a low maintenance garden, both front and rear, to allow them to spend their time improving the remainder of the land and property. The clients want a garden space with plenty of opportunity to be outside throughout the day, with additional space to entertain when confinement and other covid restrictions permit.

The clients are fond of more contemporary planting schemes and construction materials.

The house and garden have some significant water challenges: they sit in a cut in the land at the bottom of a small valley. When it rains hard during winter water collects around the house with nowhere to go until it slowly drains away.


The design challenge was to imagine how this space will be used by its owners having never been used before as a garden.

The plot immediately behind the house is wide, but not terribly deep so a series of vistas and visual markers have been used to slow the eye through the garden and stretch that space. An allée of fastigiate trees gives some afternoon shade, a vista from the living room out into the garden and a place under which the clients can kick back with a few beers and enjoy a game of petanque.

Works are being undertaken by the client, in coordination with neighbouring landowners and local authorities, to deal with excessive water run off coming from other land onto the clients’ land. The budget does not allow for a total reforming of the client’s own land, but cutting a little into the bank and erecting a 1.5m tall retaining gabion wall allows for some levelling of the land immediately behind it to attenuate any residual water flow emanating from the neighbouring fields. Added drainage behind the gabions channels away additional excess water. Large planting beds at the foot of the walls will absorb any additional water that escapes further still.

The planned front and rear gardens are different in their form and structure, but are linked by the materials used and a cohesion between the planting schemes. Taller and diffuse planting disguises ugly fosse septique inspection covers.