This is the long, rectangular rear garden to a semi-detached property in a quiet road in Beckenham, Kent.
There was a small crazy-paved patio outside the conservatory and the rest of the garden was laid to lawn with planting beds to the sides.
At the back of the garden there was also a concrete area with a raised vegetable bed.
Existing planting consisted of some trees and various shrubs and perennials.
The owners have lived in the property for some time and were ready for a complete overhaul of the garden space to make it not only more usable, but also more attractive and inviting.
They wanted a fairly traditional feel to the new garden, using curves as a basis for the design, rather than straight lines and angles, which may jar with the age and style of the property. The key word they came up with was ‘timeless’.
They also wanted to demolish the existing garage and replace it with much needed studio space to pursue one of the owner’s artistic interests.
The new studio occupies the same footprint as the original garage with bi-fold doors facing into the patio area, a window at the garden end and a roof light. It also has plumbing for a sink and tap and of course, power and light.
The old crazy paving outside the conservatory was removed and, in its place we added a new area using natural, riven stone in warm colours with a circle at its centre that makes the space look so much bigger. With the doors opening out onto the patio from both the conservatory and the new studio, the space now has a pleasing courtyard feel.
We edged one side of the patio with raised beds that included a bench seat in between and added a small, low-maintenance water feature to one of the raised beds. This gives the gentle sound of water, as well as a visual, sparkling effect, especially when lit up at night. There are pots placed on the patio that contain herbs and they are easily accessible from the kitchen.
We changed the shape of the lawn and created planting beds with more fluid boundaries to create a definite design to the space. The lawn is divided by a path that curves around both sections and finishes at another paved circle towards the rear of the garden which gets the afternoon/evening sun. This creates a second seating area that is big enough to take a bistro table and a couple of chairs.
At the back of the garden we built some raised vegetable beds using new oak railway sleepers and placed the new shed next to them. There is also a water butt to facilitate the watering of the vegetables, although we have also incorporated irrigation to allow regular watering and the irrigation extends along the borders on either side of the garden.
The “house” for the owners’ elderly tortoise is also located in this area and we placed some low-level bamboo fencing around his space that incorporates a small grassy area for the tortoise to roam in. This small lawn also includes stepping stones that lead to the new greenhouse to the side of the garden, near to the vegetable beds.
The new planting scheme contains many traditional garden perennials, such as Rudbeckias, Echinaceas and Osteospermums, but also includes some bold, structural plants to ensure interest throughout the year, and colourful foliage is just as important as flowers in the scheme.
Our clients wanted us to keep some of their existing plants, including the Liquidamber, the Gingko, the Bananas and the Apple. We also kept the large Cypress for the height and structure it gives, behind which we placed (and hid) the new compost bins and positioned the greenhouse in front of it.
Lighting adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only usable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With practical lighting to the studio, inset lighting to the patio and second seating area and up-lighting to the water feature and structural planting, the effects can be dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a subtler feeling can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion.