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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Henderson

A little garden transformation

I was called to see this small garden in Merton with a view to giving it a makeover. While this is a small space it still has lots of potential.

The client was keen to have lots of plants and flowers, and nothing too modern - paving was to be in natural, riven stone for example, nothing too contemporary.

The left hand side of the garden gets most of the sun, with the left hand side in shade for most of the day. With my client wanting space to sunbathe and entertain, the left hand side of the garden was where we wanted to focus our attention.

The concepts

Concept 1

This garden design makes use of the idea of dividing the garden up into rooms. This is still a feasible idea even in a really small garden like this one.

The client wanted dedicated space in a sunny spot for sunbathing, so in this option, there is space in the middle of the garden for sun loungers, surrounded by a square wooden structure over which climbers can grow. The tree next to this area is to provide some privacy from the house. When you can't see the whole garden all at once it can make the space appear larger to the eye.

In the back corner is a built-in seating area for social entertaining which catches the last sun of the day. Storage can be built into the bench if desired since there is little room in the garden for a shed.

Behind the bench is a raised bed. The client didn't like the view of a neighbours brick wall above her garden fence, so planting this raised bed with trees will raise the height of the planting and foliage even higher so screen this view, and increase the feeling of being enveloped in plants.

Concept 2

In this proposal, this small garden design features a path through plants to reach the built in seating area at the back of the garden.

Various features through the garden are there to catch the eye as a focal point (a sculpture or water feature), and to provide some screening (trees) which gives a cosy, secluded feel to the seating area.

An area near the house is allocated to fit sun loungers, while the planted space either side of the garden is maximised to give a really pretty, lush feel.

Again, the built in bench at the back has a raised bed behind it so that when you are sat there you are surrounded by plants. A pergola above this seating area is planted with climbers to give a little shade from hot sun, cast beautiful shadows, and to define this little space in the garden.

Concept 3

This idea combines some of the elements of concepts 1 and 2, but maximising the use of the space on the left hand side for plants in the sunshine. The path is on the shadiest side of the garden meaning that no sunny spot is wasted. The built in bench at the back of the garden remains, with a raised bed behind to be planted with pleached trees for maximum screening.

But there is an added little seating spot in the planting for a secluded little sunny seat surrounded by flowers.

An optional pergola runs along the pathway for climbers to increase planting and give different levels to the garden. This has the added benefit of keeping the eye in the garden, and not distracted by neighbouring gardens, housese or anything overlooking. It also helps to provide some screening from neighbouring houses that might otherwise have a view into the garden.

Which would you choose? I would love to know.

Final plan

The plan the client chose was a variation of concept 3. Gone are the built pergola structures to keep costs low, and we added an area of turf so that she could have that barefoot feeling in the sunshine. This is proposed to be a chamomile lawn, since turf is high maintenance and there isn't much room to store a mower. Plus chamomile look really pretty.

The brown circular feature on the lawn area is a hanging seat, so she can sit curled up in the sunshine surrounded by the planting below.

The seating area at the back is large enough to fit a table for sit-down dining al fresco, the raised beds at the back will be planted with pleached trees for greening up that view across the back of the garden and blocking out an ugly brick wall.

The planted bed on the right hand side of the garden is narrow, but wide enough to plant some climbers which will cover the fence and provide some scent too.

I can't wait to see how this one turns out.

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