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Original Designs

Inspirational Ideas

Creative Transformations

Original Designs

Inspirational Ideas

Creative Transformations

Original Designs

Inspirational Ideas

Creative Transformations

Original Designs

Inspirational Ideas

Creative Transformations

Compact contemporary garden


This small, sloping rear garden, measuring around 128 m2, fell short in providing the owners' requirement for a space in which they could both entertain and relax. The design had to maximise the overall space to make it feel bigger while at the same time create a larger main patio for outdoor dining and a second patio for enjoying the last of the afternoon sun. Dilapidated fencing, an unused Wendy house and water butts were all removed while an ornamental cloud-pruned Cotinus and a large fig tree, which held sentimental value, were retained for maturity and height in the new scheme.

The design made a feature of the necessary retaining walls and steps at the lower level by using slate cladding for texture and to contrast with the contemporary flamed sawn grey sandstone paving slabs used for the new patios and wall coping. To add interest to the rear boundary, a curvilinear raised bed was created and wraps around the semi-circular upper sunny patio. A self-contained spherical water feature in rainbow sandstone picks out the tones and colours of the hard landscaping materials and neighbouring perennial plants. Despite being a small garden, an area of lawn was still able to be included and this was edged in sandstone setts to make it easy to mow and maintain. Setts were also used to accentuate the angle at the top of the steps and as a decorative cut-out for a Pittosporum topiary ball that mirrors the shape of the spherical water feature.

Plants with strong architectural forms, such as low-maintenance Phormiums and Festuca glauca, were selected and complements the rainbow sandstone water feature and cobbles and other hard landscaping materials. Late-flowering perennials such as Hemerocallis, Penstemons, Crocosmias and Heleniums, deliver punches of hotter colours to enliven the cool grey paving slabs and wall coping. By night, garden lighting completes the look, accentuating the texture of the slate cladding and extending the owner's use and enjoyment of the garden after dark.