This client had purchased their renovated property a few years prior. A lawn had been laid and a country-style 5-bar gate installed at the entrance to the car port. The port had never been used for parking vehicles since moving in and the concrete surface was decidedly uneven and dangerous to their two young children. Furthermore, the garden was insecure leaving the house vulnerable to burglary/theft. Although a new lawn had been laid when the property was renovated it had quickly become uneven and drained very poorly.
Neighbouring gardens had no trees or other form of shelter belt and thus the garden was very exposed to westerly winds. Typically, it was very overlooked also.
The client was willing to dispense with a lawn altogether in favour of a play area solely for the children. The client wanted a morning space to sit with a coffee and an evening space to relax in on warmer days after work or at weekends with friends.
The garden is south facing bathed in sunshine for the vast majority of the year and it was quickly apparent that, with some soil improvement to improve the drainage (when constructing the garden I discovered the source of the poor drainage was several builder’s waste caches hidden below ground), the garden would lend itself to a Mediterranean/new perennial style planting.
The shed was moved to the least sunny part of the garden, maximising enjoyment of the rest of the garden by the clients and their plants . All the concrete was lifted due to its unsafe state and a new line of fencing and secure garden gate was erected, with the express agreement of the neighbour, thereby extending the garden’s useable space by several metres.
The house is a fairly typical, box like, 1950’s style house with a more recent extension rendered with a blonde/honeyed limestone-coloured material. This set the tone for the choice of path material and colour. The path lines created related directly back to the extension, thus connecting the hard landscaping firmly to its surroundings.
Identifying seating areas, it was clear that the path of the sun was such that a morning seating area could be sited directly outside the back door, which meant it could be enjoyed even in the colder months. A larger seating area could be situated more or less centrally in the garden and the plants envelope around it offering some degree of privacy/reducing the feeling of being overlooked.
The client already had a healthy olive tree growing in a large pot, which was selected to be planted and stand proud in the centre of the garden offering some screening looking back towards the house. Tall, fastigiate cypresses were selected to add height to the planting scheme, add some degree of privacy and filter winds as they pass through. Robust and long flowering perennials were planted amongst a matrix of Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Stipa tenuissima at a flowering plants to grasses ratio of approximately 50:50.
A play area was created at the rear of the garden, surfaced with a deep layer of attenuating pine nuggets. A specific feature of the design, to future proof it for when the children grew up and the play area was no longer a priority for them, incorporated a ‘Phase 2’. The pine bark could easily be lifted and removed, the soil beneath turned over and planted up in a similar scheme to the rest of the garden harmoniously enveloping the main seating area in plants.