This is the rectangular rear garden to a mid-terrace Victorian property in Streatham.
One of the main factors behind having the garden redesigned was the safety of the owner’s beautiful cats. She had specialist fencing installed to prevent them escaping from the garden, but she now also needed to remove the tall planting and climbers from the boundaries to ensure that it remained effective.
Whilst doing this, it made sense to completely revamp the garden to make it a more inviting space in which to relax and entertain.
The main problem with the garden was that, from the inside of the house, the original high level deck and its timber balustrade formed a physical, as well as a psychological, barrier to the outside space.
We created a new area using composite decking, with two levels – one fairly narrow directly outside the patio doors, stepping down on to another, which is wide enough to take a small table and chairs, to sit informally for coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening and weekends.
We added a glass balustrade with stainless steel handrails, two of which were altered to create bespoke rolling handrails to prevent the cats from using them as a springboard onto the fences.
In the lower garden we created a paved, circular, second seating area. This was done in natural sandstone in warm colours and is large enough to take a table and chairs.
We incorporated some built-in seating with raised planting beds at its rear and on the circular lawn we added a rainbow sandstone orb fountain to introduce the pleasing sound of trickling water.
The new planting scheme needed to be low maintenance and cat-friendly. In particular the plants had to be non-toxic and also, those next to the boundaries had to be non-climbable! As the owner suffer from some allergies we bore this in mind in selecting new plants and avoided those that we know can cause irritation.
Our client likes bright colours, bold planting and year round interest was important. She also wanted to keep the apple tree her father had bought for her and the original climbing Hydrangea, although we reduced its size so that the cats couldn’t use it to escape from the garden! The owner was not worried about keeping any of the other plants in the garden.
Perfumed plants were included, along with some herbs, including some planted between the paving stones, so that they release their fragrance when stepped on.
The garden ends with a rendered wall and we made this a focal point at our client’s request. We painted the wall a vibrant colour to act as a backdrop for the black-stemmed bamboos that we planted in front of it.
Lighting adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only useable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With inset lighting to the raised bed walls, the seating area, the deck and paving, and to the back wall and structural planting, the effects can be dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a more subtle effect can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion.
The cats love being out in the garden and, as all cats do, they love a vantage point. As they cannot now sit on top of the fences, we included some up-ended tree stumps as platforms where they can sit and watch what’s going on, or simply sleep in the sun.
Finally, as our client works and also travels a fair bit, we installed an irrigation system.