A long thin suburban garden of a ’30s house, transformed

This is an example of how the same space can have a completely different feel to it once redesigned, even before plants have been put in.

The previous owners had small children, and the garden was entirely designed as a child’s play area.  It was successful as one but the narrow space felt cramped and crowded.

The new owner had one grown-up son and wanted a place to look at when working from home in her first-floor study, and to sit outside in at leisure, with some outside entertaining. Her son needed a bike shelter, and the shed at the far end needed some renovation. The house dining area was in the conservatory facing the garden, and views were important. “I want to sit and look at greenery” she said.

I could see that the garden would feel much more spacious once the play area was taken up, and the space could be used in a different way, with more of a flow from one area to another, and planting to emphasise the flow and to provide privacy and lushness. The plan we agreed on had a curved lawn and path, which helped the narrow garden feel wider as it drew the eye from side to side. Curves also meant that eventually the planting would conceal some of the garden from immediate view, making it seem bigger and more interesting. The area near the house was shaded ,but this was preferred to sitting in the sun, so the patio was kept there.

As the house faced north-east, the patio would be in shade most of the time so a porcelain slab was chosen.  Porcelain doesn’t absorb moisture and is easy to maintain.  .

The last two pictures show the finished design, before new plants have been added.  The utility area at the back has been hidden by a trellis, with plans for a climbing rose in front of it.  There will be seats in the ‘shady nook’ at the back under the apple tree, and also at the end of the lawn, to make the most of the changing light and the new planting to sit among. A tree will be planted on the left side, to help screen the view of the house at the end.

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