Small Urban Garden Design: Before & After

In the summer of 2013 I visited a potential client in Clapham London to look at how they could reclaim their outdoor space.  Read on for insight into the garden design and installation of this small, contemporary, urban garden.

Effective design of small spaces is a subject gaining increasing media coverage of late. Micro living looks at achieving affordable and often more sustainable housing whilst numerous tv shows look at de-cluttering our lives and making the most of what space we have.  Design of space is just as important in our gardens in order to achieve effective functionality while retaining aesthetic appeal.  In this London garden the space was limited and it was vital to make the maintenance manageable for the busy owners. 

The garden had a few issues to overcome. It was being dominated by an existing hedge that had grown very tall and wide. There was a ground cover of gravel right up to the house meaning that it travelled into the kitchen on feet.  There were no notable features to draw you into the space.  Matt and Eleri wanted to be able to entertain their friends in the space with Summer barbecues.  They also wanted space to recline and relax without dragging furniture in and out.
 
The design solution was to create a series of built-in beds, seats, barbecue and daybed, these would all be rendered and painted to give cohesion. The surfacing would be a hardwood decking which would be repeated on the bench and daybed. This would feel great underfoot on a summers day. The tired fencing on one boundary would be replaced and new slatted style fencing would be introduced from the top of the existing fence to a height of 2m. In the rear planter bamboo would give privacy to the overlooked garden allowing light to enter the garden. A restrained low maintenance pallete of evergreen perennials and a standard fig would give the garden a unfussy feel.
 
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Something to warm you this winter

Winter treats for the garden

As you cosy up inside this winter it is easy to forget or neglect your garden.  Our outside space can be enjoyed year round and this post celebrates the winter season; giving you inspiration by highlighting a few things that may tempt you outdoors or make you appreciate the outside from in.

Opportunities to spend time out in the garden over the winter months can be limited, however if you have a reason to celebrate why not enjoy a glass of mulled wine or cider in the warmth of an outdoor fire.  Cast Iron brazier available from the RHS.

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Encourage wildlife into the garden with these stylish bird feeders.  The design friendly, ceramic bird feeders will attract local birdlife and add an unusual element to your outdoor space.  The small opening means that smaller species of bird benefit as those larger find it difficult to access.

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Outdoor hanging string lights can be used in so many ways and make a space look so inviting.  Lighting up your garden can be costly however these lights are a low cost option.  They come with a range of different power supplies included battery, solar panel or plug-in transformer making them highly flexible and easy to use.

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Natural light in winter is a wonderful thing, casting long shadows, creating reflections or back lighting .  Carefully situated sculpture or perhaps a tree or multi-stemmed shurb can create drama in the garden.  This David Harber sculptural sphere, constructed from slate, is just beautiful in its own right but even more so when strong natural light comes into play.

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I am a big champion of ornamnetal grasses for a number of reasons, in terms of our gardens in Winter Miscanthus sinensis is a winner.  One of the great things about grasses is that they add movement to the garden in even the gentlest of breezes.  At around 1.5-2m in height Miscanthus sinensis is a large grass that will create impact, its fluffy seedheads ideal for catching the light at early morning and dusk.

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An invigorating start to 2015

Coats, gloves and hats were donned and we hopped in the car to begin the new year surrounded by fabulous landscape.

The destination in question Lynmouth & Lynton, on the coast of Exmoor National Park.  Here we enjoyed bracing walks along the coastline and met the local residents including feral (but friendly) goats and wild ponies.

The ‘Valley of the Rocks’ is a dry valley featuring spectacular rock formations.  The landscape provided inspiration to novelists and poets such as William Wordsworth.  The journey in and out of Lynmouth features some surprisingly steep gradients but it is well worth a visit.

Wishing you all the very best in your own adventures over the coming year!

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