Classic and Contemporary Garden Designs

9Oct, 2019

Creating a Small Garden Design and Build Project

  • By Richard Walters
  • 9 Oct 2019
  • Projects

About a year ago, I was approached by David and Jayne from Hemsby who had recently moved into a house that sadly lacked any sort of garden at all. They asked me to provide a cost for a small garden design and build.  The garden (measuring c. 7.5m x 9m ) comprised a very small seating area, an oil tank and a lawn made up mainly of dandelions. In order to provide a quotation I then took some measurements and photographs of the front and back gardens.

Small Garden Design

After measuring up the garden I provided a quotation based on a proposed draft plan which the Clients happy with. I included a new patio, paths and two bespoke trellises to hide the oil tank and frame the new bed. I also proposed a raised bed at the end of the garden and new beds to three sides of the garden. The planting would incorporate 2 ornamental cherry trees, a small Acer and three fastigiate (columnar) golden yews. Various shrubs, bulbs and perennials (including ferns and grasses) would complete the plan. Part of the garden design and build also included revamping the front garden.

View of back garden towards oil tank before garden design and build
View towards the back of the garden
north facing side of garden before planting
View of the north facing fence
view of side gate before makeover
View towards the gate

Design Phase

Whenever I am asked to produce a garden design I start by drawing up the overall dimensions of the garden noting any specific additional considerations (eg compass direction, wind direction, soil type, views from key areas etc).  Then I start doodling and playing with ideas until inspiration strikes (anywhere from a few hours to days for more complicated projects).  When I have drafted the plan out on paper I then transpose this onto the computer.  I find a 2D plan (using Vectorworks) and, usually, 3D plan for visualisation.  After discussions and consultation with the Client between us we come to a final plan which we are all happy with.

Plan View of the Draft Plan

3D Flythrough Design

Click on the Youtube link below to see a video of the 3D garden design.  This software is great for fine tuning the design and to see an idealised version of what the garden will look like when finished.  This is very useful to assist with  landscaping and planting plans as well as an effective presentation tool.

Hard landscaping

After finalising the plan and ensuring that David and Jayne were completely happy with the garden plan, it was time to get stuck in to the building phase.

The first activity was to weedkill the lawn to ensure all the perennials weeds were killed. We then sanded down and stained the fences dark brown, which is effective in bringing the best colour out in the new plants.

After that we then started laying the patio and paths.  Me and a trustee colleague, Matt, dug out the patio base then added 100mm of hard core (grade 2 MOT) with a 50mm layer of mortar. Silverton Aggregates supplied all the aggregate material for the project.

View of the new patio area before construction
Just checking that the patio is the right size!
View of patio foundation with table and chairs
Patio and path dug out ready for hardcore.

Trellises and Raised Beds

We then built two trellises, one to screen the oil tank and the other to ‘bookend’ the new flowerbed.  Later, I planted climbers up these to create vertical interest. This helps to create the effect of enlarging the garden. A raised bed at the far end of the garden created further interest with added structure.

We were then ready to lay the new lawn and start planting the trees and larger shrubs.

Back garden build in progress showing new patio, trellis, raised beds and yews.
Back garden installation in progress.
Front garden installation in progress
The front garden in progress with new lawn down.

Small Garden Trees

For the two suitable small trees I chose Prunus Amanogawa and Prunus Snowgoose. These are small trees not exceeding 4m with a fastigiate (columnar) habit or form. I positioned these on the south facing sunny part of the garden.

Prunus Amanogawa is a beautiful fastigate ornamental cherry tree with pale pink flowers in spring. These turn to bronze foliage in spring, green in summer with a final display of oranges and reds in autumn.  Prunus Snowgoose has a similar narrow columnar shape with beautiful white flowers in April and fresh green foliage slowly turning to reds and oranges in autumn.

I added a beautiful slow growing Acer Katsura in the corner away from the midday sun.  Although this can get to 6m it can be pruned to shape occasionally to ensure it stays an appropriate size.

Along the north facing edge of the garden I planted three fastigiate golden yews. These are useful plants as they provide year round evergreen colour with a lovely golden tinge.  They can be cut back drastically if needed to keep them to shape and size.

Acer Katsura with bronze foliage in the partial shade. I underplanted with Ballerina tulips, Alliums ‘Purple Sensation’ and Polystichum ferns.  Taxus baccata fastigiate ‘Aurea’ is also shown with Astrantia ‘Gill Richardson’ and Campanula ‘Dickson’s Gold’.

Raised bed showing Acer Katsura and perennials in spring
Acer Katsura in spring with Ballerina Tulips, aubrieta and Polystichum ferns.
Raised bed with Acer Katsura in summer with allium seedheads
Acer Katsura in summer with Allium 'Purple Sensation' seedheads and Campanula 'Dicksons' Gold'.

Another detail that added included installing an off-the-peg Wheelie Bin store.  This attractive wooden feature was a considerable improvement on looking at the existing bins. On the right is a wooden trellis. The tree shown is Prunus ‘Snowgoose’ with Ballerina Tulips underneath.

South facing view of garden design and build ain early spring showing Tulips
Ornamental cherries and Ballerina Tulips in spring. The new bin store and patio is also shown.
View of ornamental cherry trees in summer
Ornamental cherries in summer showing Allium 'Purple Sensation' seedheads and Stipa tenuissima grasses.

Shrubs

After the trees were planted I then added the shrubs.  These included roses for the south facing border with a Philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ by the oil tank.  On the shadier side I planted three fuchsias (‘Delta’s Sara’, ‘Mrs Popple’ and ‘Hawkshead’).  I also included a Daphne ‘Aureomarginata’ for wonderful winter fragrance and evergreen colour.

Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' and Campanula 'Dickson's Gold' with geraniums.
Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' with Geraniums and Campanula mixed with Digitalis and Aquilegia.
North facing fence with Taxus baccata fastigiata 'Aurea'
North facing fence with Golden Irish yews, Fuchsia, Campanula and Geraniums.

Bulbs and Perennials

Finally I added the bulbs, perennials, grasses and ferns.  Bulbs included Snowdrops, Bluebells, Tulips (‘Ballerina’) and Alliums (‘Purple Sensation’).  For the grasses I included the Feather Grass and Stipa tenuissima.  At the end of the garden next to the trellis I planted two grasses Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’ and M. ‘Gold bar’.  These grasses have banded variegation which I hope will look interesting next to the horizontal bands of the trellis.

For the perennials on the shadier side of the garden I included Heuchera and Tiarella, along with Aquilegia and fox gloves.  Geraniums and Campanula brightened up the border with Alchemilla mollis in the driest and shadiest part of the garden.  I also added a number of Polystichum (Japanese tassel fern) for added foliage interest.

At the back of the garden I included aubrietia to hang over the raised bed, Astrantia ‘Gill Richardson’, Liriope muscari along with some ferns.

Along the sunny border in amongst the mix of Stipas, alliums, tulips and geraniums I included Salvia ‘Mainacht’ with Penstemons in the corners.

This series of before and after photographs shows the view towards the back of the garden.  The trellis hiding the oil tank with Tulips and alliums is shown at back. These photos were taken in autumn (before), spring and summer.

View of back garden towards oil tank before garden design and build
View towards the back of the garden
View of back garden towards oil tank after garden design and build in Spring
View of the new garden in spring.
View of back garden towards oil tank before after garden design and build in early summer
View of the new garden in early summer.

Front Garden Makeover

A key part of the project brief was to revive and update the front garden. We replaced the tired and weedy front lawn with top quality new turf.  New plants included Roses, Dianthus, Cistus, Lavender and a Pittosporum.

A variegated Pittosporum next to the door will give bright and cheerful evergreen colour. Three English lavenders provide scent, with a dwarf Cistus ‘Silver Pink’ giving long lasting summer colour.  Dianthus ‘Devon Wizard’ also provide bright purple colour and strong fragrance.

Scented Ballerina Tulips give wonderful spring colour, with Purple Sensation alliums following on.  A bright green Cypress shrub was placed in the front of the garden, with shade tolerant roses underneath the windows.

Front garden before makeover
View of the existing front garden.
Front garden immediately after makeover
Showing the front garden immediately after the finish.
Front garden in early spring showing Ballerina Tulips
The front garden in spring showing the lovely Ballerina Tulips.

Client Testimonial

David and Jayne were really pleased with the project and gave me lovely feedback. 

“Last year we employed Richard to provide and implement a design for our front and rear gardens. The gardens aren’t large and we were keen on making the most of the space available. One of our requirements was that they should be relatively low maintenance going forward. Richard provided outstanding service from the initial meeting onwards. He listened carefully to what we needed and made really helpful suggestions as to what would work well with the location. The 3D designs he provided were very realistic and made our decisions easy; he was also very responsive in making changes etc. The works themselves were hassle free and very well executed. At one point Richard wasn’t happy with the quality of the paving and contacted me straight away to discuss alternatives. We’re very happy with the outcome. We now have lovely gardens, with great variety of type and colour and they’re maturing nicely (and as envisaged in the design models!) Thank you!!”. 

See this review and others on my google review page. See my other reviews on Trustpilot and Facebook.

Contact me for your own Garden Design and Build

Would you like your own garden transformed into a Mediterranean style garden, or maybe you prefer a Classic English garden. Perhaps you prefer a contemporary Arts and Crafts garden, or maybe you have a shady garden or unsightly front garden. Please contact me today for a consultation and quote whatever your garden requirements. Other inhouse skills include laying patios, steps, erecting pergolas, building raised beds and installing ponds and water features.

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