Thanks to my clients for the photos in this post.

The Design Brief

My clients had a long, narrow, flat garden laid mostly to lawn, in Beckenham.  They wanted more privacy – both visually and from the noise of the adjacent road.  They had just added a modern extension with bifold doors onto a patio, and wanted to improve the view from it.  They were a couple with adult children,  liking to sit outside, to entertain, hold occasional parties, not serious gardeners but wanted some space to grow vegetables. 

The garden faces northwest, so they liked the idea of a pergola or small garden building, halfway up the garden, where they could sit in the sun.  They needed a shed to hold the mower.  They also wanted a space for herbs near the house.

Garden before build The garden before the build.


In the photo you can see the shape of the design marked out.  I chose a diagonal design to make the garden seem wider.

Plan of new design

Here is the final design, with a small patio 2/3 way up the garden, where there is a pergola and also a shed hidden behind it.  There is an arch next to this patio, leading to the vegetable growing area and some meadow at the back.  There are extra trees to screen the view of neighbouring houses, and the fence on the left is a new acoustic fence.  I also recommended replacing the fence on the right with a featherboard fence to match.


Beds dug out

Beds were dug out and a hedge put in as well as a new acoustic fence added. 



Paths dugThen paths and patio were dug.  A small landscaping team of two started work in October..  The path to the right was stepping stones, so the holes had to be carefully dug out of the turf.




Then paving was put in, leaving gaps for the pergola posts, and working round existing trees.


pergola up 


The pergola went up first before the shed.







Then the shed was built from a kit, to fit almost behind the pergola – it would be hidden from view from the patio.







The lattice screen hid the remainder of the shed and provided support for climbing plants.




Garden so far


This is the garden so far, awaiting some shrubs and an arch.



Here is what it will look like eventually, when planted up and when the trees have established.




This is the view through the new arch to an urn, showing what became the shed and pergola on the right.


veg and meadow area


Here is the view from the back fence, looking over a meadow area, to a bench and raised vegetable beds, a relaxing solitary spot.



I hope you found this a useful step by step guide to what landscaping a new design involves.  So you know where the money goes!

If you have garden plans, best of luck this season in making them happen.



This time of year many of us start to feed the birds. But what else should we do to encourage them to flourish in the garden? We know they need help – even sparrows’ numbers are decreasing – and we love to look at them. This post shows you 3 main things to consider.

1. Nesting

Site your nestboxes where they will use them. Now’s the time to put them up, as they start looking for nesting sites in late winter/early spring.

CJ Wildlife says that birds need a clear flight path in and out of the box, but also shelter from wind and rain, and some shade from hot sun. And of course, make them high enough to prevent cats accessing them. You may not have cats but your neighbours’ will quickly find out where the nests are!

Birdboxes photo © CJ Wildlife

‘Organic Gardening’ (RHS series, Stickland and Pears) [out of print but Pears has a similar book here] says different birds prefer different types of box. Robins and spotted flycatchers use an open box with sides and a roof. Bluetits need boxes with a small hole 2.8cm in diameter. Great tits will use ones with holes 3cm in diameter – any wider and the sparrows will take over.

2. Shelter and food

‘Organic Gardening’ also says to provide different layers of vegetation in your garden. A tall tree (if you can) will be a ‘song post’ where they perch and proclaim their territory. Lucky you if you can get a thrush to sing there! Thick shrubs, hedges, undergrowth and climbers will provide natural nesting sites, and their berries will feed hungry birds in autumn and winter. Flowers that attract insects will give birds their food as well, and seedheads. The sight of a group of goldfinches eating cow parsley seeds, and a bluetit holding on to a stem of opium poppy to poke a hole in the seedhead and extract the tiny seeds can have you fascinated.

Pyracantha shrub photo © CJ Wildlife

When you site a bird feeder, it’s best to have some shelter there or nearby so birds can retreat quickly eg if a sparrowhawk’s attention is drawn to the feeder. Cats can lurk underneath, so take care here as well. My cat would crouch under an arching grass and I had to straighten it up during the breeding season!

3. Water

Birdbath photo © CJ Wildlife

Give them a source of drinking water and water for bathing. They will use ponds and bird baths, and some birds like running water: a bubble fountain will provide this. Put a small ball on the pond surface in winter to keep the water aerated for underwater plants and animals, and to provide access for birds; break the ice on bird baths.

Other gardening autumn tasks for now include planting garlic and other bulbs, enriching the soil with a layer of compost or well-rotted manure, and collecting leaves to make leaf mould with. Put them in a chicken wire enclosure or into black plastic bags with some drainage holes in the bottom.

Leave food like cat or dog food out for hedgehogs, who are preparing to hibernate (move bonfire materials just before you light them to check they’re not in there, too.) And make sure you have that hole in the fence to allow hedgehogs to come and go – see my previous blog post here.

That’s it for now! Sorry if you missed me, I have been busy. Hope to update you on my summer projects soon, there’s been quite a variety.



5 Steps to Successful Organic Lawn Care

April 22, 2020

I hope you are all keeping well during this strange time of lockdown against the corona virus. It seems everyone wants to tackle their gardens at the moment, and in the UK it’s been perfect weather to get out there to do that. A favourite project is improving the lawn, and here’s a post to […]

Read the full article →

When is a good time to start planning my garden redesign?

January 30, 2020

Here’s a great article on how to work with a designer and what to expect – including how long in advance to book them.  This is for the UK by the online house and garden magazine/forum ‘Houzz’.  Houzz also have another article here on Design Costs (not including landscaping or plants).

Read the full article →

Australian ‘back yard’ garden tips

January 15, 2020

Here’s an article from the ‘Houzz’ website on Australian gardening – with a photo from one of my designs in it, from Towcester in the UK! I enjoy looking at gardens from a different culture – The Australians always have a shaded space next to the house as the sun gets so hot. They practically […]

Read the full article →

Summer 2019 Open Gardens

October 18, 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog and I have some varied visits to blog about – the first ones in June. My village, Wappenham in south Northamptonshire, once again opened its gardens for the National Garden Scheme, and there were all sorts of gardens to see. I didn’t get round all of them […]

Read the full article →

Small garden ideas from Chelsea by Houzz

June 17, 2019

I thought this post from the home and gardens website ‘Houzz’ was worth including:

Read the full article →

How to make a compost heap and why

May 17, 2019

Now is the time to weed and tidy up in the garden, before the weeds get too big.  Composting is the easy way to get rid of the resulting piles of unwanted greenery.  If you haven’t done it before, here is the low-down. Why compost? You get a fabulous soil conditioner to help make your […]

Read the full article →

Building A Bee-autiful Garden

March 12, 2019

Here is a guest post from author and garden designer Karoline Gore, in time for the planting season. Building your own garden is one of the most soothing and enjoyable activities you can do, but why not make it beneficial for wildlife too? Bees account for ?400 million of the U.K. economy through pollination alone. Bees are […]

Read the full article →

A winter scent corner

February 1, 2019

Many of the shrubs that flower in winter and early spring have strongly-scented flowers, so they can attract any lone bee that is out there this time of year. And their scent also draws me outside to appreciate these hardy plants. I’ve planted 3 winter-flowering shrubs together near the house, together with a seat, so […]

Read the full article →