Redesigning their garden was the homeowners ‘to-do’ list when they bought their Victorian London home in 2018, but it became a priority during the first lockdown in 2020 when they had nowhere to relax outside.
Living with their young son and Cockapoo dog, they wanted to create a space full of garden ideas to relax in, with new planting and lighting. Discover how they transformed their 98sq m plot for £65,000.
A lack of green fingers meant that the garden was poorly-maintained with an uneven lawn, and broken paving at the centre and rear of the yard. ‘The garden was a jungle of overgrown plants and broken paving, so we couldn’t use it,’ explains the homeowner.
The couple had previously owned a garden that they had tried to design themselves but their lack of plant knowledge meant it was never quite what they had hoped for. ‘Since we plan on being here for many years, we decided to invest in the garden and commission a garden designer to help us to create a beautiful outdoor space to complement the house,’ they add.
They enlisted the help of designer Joanna Archer who they felt best understood their style and needs. ‘We asked Joanna for a plan that would offer space for outdoor dining and a barbecue, together with an area where we could relax and where our son and dog could play. We also wanted a timeless design that would be sympathetic to the period of the house,’ the owners say.
The solution was to firstly replace the old broken fencing with brick walls to complement the warm tones of the building. The garden faces southeast, and Joanna suggested creating a sun terrace with a sofa and chairs by the house and the dining area in a cooler spot at the end of the garden, shaded by the wall and neighbouring trees.
‘The only problem was that we would be overlooked there, so we decided on a simple screen decorated with a star jasmine,’ the homeowner explains. The frame hides the dining area from the view of neighbouring windows while filling the garden with perfume when the summer flowers open.
A bespoke mirror-backed shelving unit adds a sparkling focal point, as well as the ideal space for pots of herbs for the barbecue. ‘We love the planting Joanna has chosen, which is mostly white and green with spots of brighter colours,’ says the homeowner.
‘Spring starts with narcissus and tulips, followed in May by white alliums. The trees also offer colour throughout the year. I love the Amelanchier, which has white spring blossom, summer berries and fiery autumn leaves, but my favourite plant is the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, with its huge white pompom flowers.’
The homeowners love their new garden, which has met all their expectations and more. ‘On summer evenings, we like to catch the last rays of sun on the tiny patio in the centre of the garden and enjoy the plants and sound of the bubbling water feature – there’s no better place to unwind,’ they say.
The bubbling water feature idea just needs topping up with water now and again in summer.
Alfresco dining area
‘We love the dining furniture, which is modern yet also suits our period home, and it can stay outside all year.’ says the owner
Get the look: Ribambelle extendable table in Rosemary, £2,790 (opens in new tab), Cadiz stacking chairs in Rosemary and Cactus, from £285 each (opens in new tab), all Fermob
Copy the look with flowers and foliage
‘My favourite plants are the large white ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas which I can admire from the patio.’ says the homeowner
The seedheads of May-flowering white alliums extend the interest into summer.
Potted standard bay trees (Laurus nobilis) add drama and provide privacy on the sun terrace next to the house.
Focus on: garden lighting
Garden lighting ideas are a great way to extend the time you have in your outdoor space, even into winter.
- Design: Zoe Duff Gordon (opens in new tab) designed the lighting for the garden and recommends uplighting small trees with narrow beams to create drama. Lights with broad beams create subtle ambient light in borders, while downlights fixed high on walls offer more directed light on a patio or dining area. Also light steps and paths allow safe access at night.
- Lighting options: LEDs are the best options for gardens – look for an IP rating of 65 or above which guarantees they’re waterproof. Solar-powered lights only produce a soft glow and you must install the solar panel in full sun to recharge. Warm white lights offer the most natural effect in a garden.
- Installation: Employ a qualified, experienced electrician to install outdoor lights. Zoe suggests a few circuits will allow maximum flexibility, and longer cabling for spike lights so they can be moved to highlight seasonal planting.