The property now
The property is a 1930s semi-detached house with later additions, in a suburban location. The area of the garden to be redeveloped is approximately 140m2 and almost south-facing.
The bulk of the garden is laid to lawn with narrow borders around the edges. There is little planting to retain, but a good Hawthorn tree on a neighbouring plot.
The site slopes up away from the house and is overlooked from all sides.
The clients wanted to create a wildlife-friendly garden that was quite formal near the house but more relaxed further out. The overall feel of the garden would be informal but not messy.
The main requirements were:
- a formal pond for wildlife (but not fish) to be viewed from the picture window of the living room,
- a wild flower lawn (to be kept relatively short), and
- a choice of seating areas.
There were also a few requirements specifically for the local wildlife including a log pile, a range of different planting opportunities, and access for the visiting hedgehog.
Although the overall feel of the garden was to be informal the clients had a strong preference for smart-looking natural materials (e.g. sawn and honed stone).
The proposed garden layout
The new design divides the garden in to three areas, each providing different wildlife habitats. Four seating areas encourage you out in to the garden.
Terrace and pond
Nearest the house is a small terrace with a large, semi-raised, formal pond. There’s space for a bench and the pond coping doubles as a seat.
An ornamental log pile next to the pond provides a habitat for insects and amphibians. Shelves allow for marginal planting on two sides of the pond while a beach and shallow water allow wildlife to enter easily.
A path around the garage and conservatory leads to corner steps and up to the next area.
Lawns and borders
Further away from the house is a central wildflower lawn surrounded by a gravel path and border planting.
The central lawn will be supplemented with low-growing wildflowers such as clover and vetch, to provide an insect-friendly space that can still be regularly mown.
The path provides a circular route around the garden, passing under a bespoke circular timber arbour before turning back to a second terrace behind the pond. The timber arbour has a cantilevered beam to partially screen the seating area underneath from view and also provides space for climbing plants.
Generous borders encircle the area giving plenty of scope for planting.
A willow fence woven in-situ, terminates the main garden and separates it from a mini woodland beyond. A small change in level with a timber step reinforces the separation. An informal path passes through the willow fence, winding through the woodland planting to a stone bench.
To ensure the garden can be enjoyed all year, whatever the weather, subtle lighting has been included:
- Lights in the step risers will illuminate the step treads for safety.
- Spotlights on the arbour posts will allow the area to be used in the evening.
- Spotlights will illuminate the trees and key plants, so the garden can be enjoyed from the house.
Especially for the hedgehog
A hedgehog is a regular visitor so access holes have been cut in both boundary fences at the top of the garden. Another escape route has been left along the side of the garage. A hedgehog house and messy wood pile will be concealed in the woodland.
All features within the garden will be less than 2.5m high so planning permission won’t be needed (other rules also apply). Different rules apply if your property is listed or in a conservation area (and in some other circumstances), so always check with your local authority before starting work.