This is the large rear garden to a substantial, detached property set back from a fairly busy road in a Otford, a picturesque Village in West Kent located on the River Darent, flowing north down its valley from its source on the North Downs.
It has historical connections with Henry VIII and Archbishops Warham and Thomas Beckett, and at its heart lies the duck pond roundabout.
This is a beautiful family home, but although the garden had huge potential, it lacked character and interest, and did not live up to the high quality internal finishes of the property. Our clients wanted to create an exciting outside space both for entertaining, relaxing, and for their children to enjoy for years to come.
They already had a serviceable patio area next to the house but wanted to draw people out into the garden more, by creating a second seating area together with a swimming pool, towards the back of the garden, especially as this is the spot that gets the evening sun.
We created mounds in strategic areas of the garden. This not only provides fun play opportunities for the children, but also means that you can’t see all the garden at once. We created ‘secret’ routes around the space and also provided a vista between two banks towards the pool area that should prove irresistible to friends and family.
Our clients described their design requirements using the words ‘fun’, ‘child-friendly’, ‘play area’ and ‘hiding places’ which clearly indicated that the space had to be both stimulating, and even slightly mysterious for the children to use.
We will also created a circuitous cycle/running path around the garden, disappearing behind banks, the Willow tree and around the front of the play structure which make it even more fun.
There is a sunken trampoline behind the play structure and a bespoke tree seat under the Willow tree.
The lawn nearer to the house was completely replaced to give the owners a large open play area for ball games and so on that they requested.
We created a second seating area, together with a swimming pool, towards the back of the garden, as this is the spot that gets the evening sun. We constructed a large summerhouse to one side, complete with comfy sofas/sofabed, a flat screen TV and bar area with sink and fridge. As it is adjacent to the pool area, it we also added a shower and WC inside.
The summerhouse opens out onto a large decked terrace overlooking the pool and also the lovely views to the north. The deck is constructed using composite timber for its longevity and low maintenance.
The summerhouse is of a colonial-style with timber cladding and cedar tiled roof.
To the side of the deck nearest to the house is a covered barbecue area, with a built-in gas barbecue positioned so that the chef can face his guests and still be part of the ‘action’.
The pool itself is rectangular and with a grey sandstone paved area surrounding it that gives it a clean, contemporary feel. There is room to move around safely and enough space for a few sun loungers.
A planting bed filled with semi-tropical and exotic-looking planting completes the stunning picture at this end of the garden.
As safety is paramount the pool area is fenced off with a white picket fence running along the front of the two banks to either side with a secure gate in the middle. We also only used non-toxic planting and included nothing with thorns or spiky foliage.
The planting scheme in the main, apart from in the pool area, is simple and informal. We included a combination of native meadow planting for some of the banks, alternating with more colourful ‘prairie’ style planting in others. We also created a colourful border near to the house, as this can be seen from the lounge and creates a focal point. Our clients particularly like Hydrangeas and these will do well here, as they like to be in the shade. They also wanted to have plenty of perfumed planting, especially near to entrances and seating areas, and also some herbs planted near to the summerhouse and barbecue area. As privacy was important, we also added some tall planting on the boundary with the neighbours’ gardens. The existing conifers on this boundary were kept in places, but where there is planting in front of them, we removed them as necessary.
Lighting also adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only safe and usable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With inset lighting to paving around the pool and the deck, and up-lighting to the summerhouse, trees and structural planting, the effects can be dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a more subtle feel can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion.
Finally, we included an irrigation system so that the owners need not worry should they go away on holiday.