Family Fun

Portfolio / Family Fun

The garden had been neglected for many years before the current owners moved in. The brief was for a family friendly garden that should include a small vegetable patch, a work area by a new shed, a log store and compost bins, a large lawn for children’s play, and seating areas in the sun and shade. A contemporary geometric design was chosen with the design set at a 45 degree angle to create an interesting dynamic space that still had a large lawn at its centre. 

Following the replacement of all the perimeter fences, retaining walls were built to deal with the change in level at the end of the garden. Ramps were included instead of steps to make it more child-friendly and enable easy wheelbarrow access to the work area. A sunken seating area with pergola was built in the far left corner to provide a shaded retreat in this south-facing garden. The position also provides a fine view of woodland beyond the house. Raj sandstone paving and setts were used for the path and main patio with concrete paving chosen for the work area. Since the garden was overlooked by houses down one complete side and from the end, specimen Ilex x Koehneana ‘Chestnut Leaf’ hollies were planted to screen off windows along with a fastigiate hornbeam, holm oak , a box-leaved acer and some photinia standards. These were chosen to be easy to keep to a manageable size and cope with the relatively poor free-draining soil in the garden.

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A large, poorly managed leylandii hedge dominated the back of the garden. Two tall conifers were removed from the centre of the garden which gave the Magnolia grandiflora more light. The lawn was very uneven and full of thistles. The garage on the right was subsequently removed.


A view of the garden taken from under the pergola five years after completion. The trees now provide more privacy while still allowing the borders beneath to flourish. The wisteria has completely covered the pergola making it a lovely cool place to sit on hot days. Although the lawn is large it is an interesting shape and there are plenty of flower borders for a succession of colour.


The green oak pergola was made to order and is supported off the ground on steel pins to provide longevity. The patio is approached down two steps and the sunken aspect gives a nicer feel of privacy and immersion in the garden. The surrounding planting is shade loving and includes a wonderfully scented daphne, hellebores and a carpet of ground comfrey which bees adore.


A deep border by the patio disguises an in-ground trampoline. The surrounding planting includes a dwarf variegated pampas grass, zebra grass and globe thistle for structure with colour provided by salvias, mountain cornflowers, geraniums, bearded iris and phlox. These plants cope well with the high temperatures and dryness of the site.


The Raj sandstone sett path complements the patio of the same material and zig-zags up the side of the garden in an unobtrusive way. Under the Magnolia grandiflora a gravel garden has been created with planting only possible in spaces between the shallow tree roots.


This passageway was formerly a narrow driveway for access to a garage. The sandstone slabs were laid in a staggered manner to relieve the linearity of the space. The planting had to be chosen carefully to fit in between the shallow drains on the left and the concrete footing of the wall on the right. A climbing hydrangea is beginning to clothe the wall on the right and the relatively cool conditions suit the hostas and ferns. A purple forest pansy tree was planted at the end of this space to create a focal point.


Goldfinches feed on echinacea heads in the autumn.