Garden Design Brief
Courtyard Garden space in NE London
When I was approached to design the rear garden of a Victorian villa in NE London I was absolutely delighted, as designing a solution for small intimate spaces is always an interesting challenge, primarily because you have so little space to work with.
In this case the previous owners of the property hadn’t really managed the garden for some time and the current owner’s priority was to renovate the house itself first. A great deal of work has taken place on the house including an extension and during this process the garden was used as a space to store building materials etc. The house is now finished to a high standard, and the garden has come 'sharply' into focus.
The owners of the property are two professional people, working in senior positions in their respective fields, have minimal time for garden maintenance, so wanted a smart, clean, private space for relaxing in after work and at weekends, with space for outdoor cooking. In addition, and more importantly, they also wanted a space for two small children to play and grow up in. Leading up to the Garden design the children had to play on a carpet laid on the earth with chairs positioned randomly (and unevenly) for any visitors to sit on, so changes needed to be made.
The garden is quite small being just 4m x 5m, pretty much the space of a large lounge, so the area had to be maximized to its full extent and be multi-purposed. Being a terraced property, it was also overlooked from three sides and more directly from the rear. The existing garden was enclosed by a low ancient wall with old trellis in places on top. The wall was not in a great state of repair and not especially attractive, however the budget would not allow for this to be re-built or re-furbished.
This was not a space that had the luxury of being able to be split into garden rooms for adults and areas for children, so the only option was to design a space allowing both adults and children to enjoy at different times, which meant a mixture of soft and hard surfaces. Any form of grass was out of the question as the house, being terraced, means all garden maintenance waste must go through the house. That would have included grass clippings.
Therefore, I designed a space combining artificial grass with porcelain paving for walkways and BBQ area. Using porcelain also keeps maintenance to a minimum. The artificial grass provided the children somewhere soft to play on and goes some way to helping drainage for the hard surface area. Then when the children are in bed this gives the adults a contemporary garden space during the evenings.
In an attempt to make the garden feel deeper than it is, horizontally slatted, cedar fencing was introduced to visually lengthen the garden. This is fitted as close to the existing boundary as possible eliminating the unsightly wall. The height is to the maximum allowed for an urban area of 2.1 metres. At the rear, the fence posts are secured to the boundary wall and raised off the ground to allow space for steel planters to be introduced, as the single space for plants. In this case the planting will be clump forming Bamboo silhouetted at night by up lighting. When planted this should take the effective ‘privacy height’ much higher than the fence.
To continue the elongation effect of the area, rectangular porcelain slabs are used in a stretcher bond pattern running from the bi-fold doors to the planters at the rear.
Drainage for the hard surface is dealt with by allowing for the water to run towards the rear of the garden and drain into a gravel surface under the steel planters. Some of the annual rainfall will also drain into the artificial grass.
Up and down lighting has been added to make this a space to enjoy late into the night and up lighters used to silhouette the bamboo planting due to be installed in a planter at the rear boundary.
Completed garden prior to planter install.
Garden with planters in place