The property now
The property is a detached house in a quiet suburban location. The area being re-designed is a small corner between the house and conservatory (less than 60m2) and roughly west facing. The bulk of the space is paved with some planting against the house wall.
A lawn slopes up to the boundary. Space for the conservatory was cut in to the bank which is retained with an unattractive gravity walling system. The boundary is well planted with mature trees, so the area is shadier than would be expected from its orientation.
The client wanted to create a pleasant place for a couple of people to sit, with enough space for up to four people to dine. She wanted to find more space for planting, and the (almost obligatory) water feature was also on the wish list.
She preferred curves to straight lines and wanted a contemporary design with clean lines, contrasting materials and architectural planting.
The proposed garden layout
The new design is based around a circular seating area.
The design cuts in to the bank to enlarge the area and make the conservatory part of the space. A new retaining wall of rendered blockwork curves around the seating area and becomes the back to a built-in timber bench. The bench is dressed with made-to-measure back and seat cushions.
A raised planter with a curved edge is built inside the wall. Constructing this at the same height as the bench allows the timber seat to extend along the edge of the planter. A trio of balls makes a focal point in the planter – one will be drilled to become a bubble fountain.
Behind the bench the rendered wall falls away to create a planter for screening plants. This could contain a small specimen tree, up-lit at night.
The whole area is paved with rectangular units laid in a staggered, coursed pattern to visually widen the space. A circle detail is set in to the paving with six small floor lights to define the seating area.
A border planting along the house wall curves out in to the space to generate a larger planting area. An architectural plant or piece of topiary in this border would block the view along the path to make the garden more private.
In the winter the neighbouring trees make this area quite shady so a pale wall screen is added to reflect light and reduce the dominance of the house wall. This could be used to create interesting shadows or could be a light box, with a cut pattern lit from behind at night.