Classic and Contemporary Garden Designs

12Oct, 2019

No Garden to Show Garden – a City Garden Design

  • By Richard Walters
  • 12 Oct 2019
  • Projects

Earlier this year I was approached by Vicki and Andy to provide a city garden design for their newly purchased property in Norwich.  Situated within the Golden Triangle and nearby the lovely Plantation Gardens, their own garden was sadly neglected, dominated by old decking and a dilapidated Wendy House. However we could see it had potential to be a nice entertaining area and peaceful retreat and I was very happy to transform the garden.

Project Brief

Before coming up with a plan I needed to know what was required in the new garden. A new patio was a definite requirement surrounded by plenty of plants. Vicki was also keen on a small lawn area and a space for growing salad vegetables. The fence needed repairs in various places and would benefit from restaining in the original dark green. There was an existing rose at the end of the garden that we decided to keep.

As you can see from the photos below, the garden really was in great need of a complete makeover!

Norwich Garden before Clearance showing Decking and Wendy House
The back garden was dominated by the large blue decking area and dilapidated Wendy House.
Path and Decking showing the fruit tree and Skimmia
The path and lawn needed replacing. However we transplanted the lovely Skimmia rubra.

A Norwich City Garden Design  – Concept Planning

At this stage I draw up the concept design plan, starting off by doing a garden survey.  In this case it was a fairly swift operation, just measuring the overall dimensions of the garden. I also made a note of the tree positions and which shrubs to save (the skimmia and rose). Click here for more information about the garden design process.

After that I start to draw rough ideas on paper before putting this design on computer.  I use Vectorworks CAD software for this.  Afterwards I convert the design to three dimensions for presentation purposes.  Drawing up a 3D design also helps me as a designer to really visualise the final design.

For this project I also did a paving pattern design. This ensured that I laid the Indian sandstone paving was efficiently and to best effect.

I also then compile a planting plan. As this was such a shady garden I concentrated on shade tolerant plants that would do well in these conditions.  See the finished plan below for interest.

Norwich City garden Design Plan showing plants
Plan View of garden showing location of shrubs and perennials
3D View of Norwich Garden Design
3D perspective view of the proposed city garden design
Paving plan for patio and path showing different size pavers
Paving pattern for patio and path

Garden Clearance and Preparation

Firstly we had the fun of removing the existing decking and Wendy House. Happily this came up quite easily and there no nasty surprises lurking underneath. After clearing all the rubble and various large stones, it was time to progress with the garden rescue!

Back garden cleared of decking and wendy house
The back garden after we had cleared the decking and lifted the existing path.

Hard Landscaping

Rather than dig down for the patio foundation, we decided to build up from the existing ground level. This kept costs down and allowed the patio to be at the appropriate height to meet with the adjoining paths.

Myself and my colleague, Matt, built up the 100mm hardcore in a ‘form’. We then laid the slabs in a prearranged pattern to ensure it looked perfect when complete.  In discussion with the Client we chose classic Silver grey Indian Sandstone paving slabs (supplied by Longwater Construction in Norwich).

In order to enclose the patio we constructed raised beds around the perimeter.  We then laid a path back to the existing walkway outside the back door.

Setting out eh size and position of the patio
Just checking that the patio is going to be big enough for the table and chairs (it was)!
The patio after construction with the raised beds in place and replaced fence panels.
Hard landscaping is always the first part of any build

Soft Landscaping and Planting

When all the hard landscape features were in place, it was time for the planting phase. Before that started, we added lots of top soil mixed with well rotted manure to give the plants a really good soil bed. Bonemeal added to each hole also helps them to get off to a good start.

All the plants that I chose were suitable for partial to heavy shade. The majority also very tolerant of dry conditions (under the trees). I bought perennials from Howard Nursery and the shrubs mainly from Sandy Lane.

I have included a comprehensive plant list of all plants used on this project at the bottom of this article.

Play the clip below to see me discussing the garden in more detail.

Plants areas the patio including Fuchsia, Heauchera, Athyrium, Skimmia, Brunnera, Sarcococca and Liriope muscari.
Plants are the finishing touches to the garden
Shade planting under the tree canopy
Shade planting under the tree canopy
Shade planting around the patio
Shade planting around the patio

Plant List


  • Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ and relocated Skimmia rubra ‘Rubella’ (relocated)
  • Sarcococca confusa
  • Hydrangea sp.
  • Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’
  • Acer dissectum ‘Viridis’
  • Buxus sempervirens
  • Fuchsia ‘Tom Thumb’
  • Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green carpet
  • Climbing Rose (moved and pruned back)


  • Ophiopogon planiscapus nigra
  • Polystichum ‘David Howard’
  • Dicentra spectabilis (red) and D. spectabilis ‘Alba’ (white Bleeding Hearts)
  • Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’
  • Brunnera ‘Dawson’s White’


  • Dryopteris dilatata ‘Crispa Whiteside’
  • Hosta fortune ‘Aureomarginata’
  • Athyrium filix-femina ‘Frazelliae’
  • Heuchera ‘Glitter’ and ‘Plum Pudding’
  • Astilbe ‘Sprite’


  • Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Client Testimonial

It’s really gratifying to get good feedback and I was really pleased when Vicki left these kinds words as a review on Google.

“Richard transformed our small garden in the Golden Triangle, turning a derelict deck into a lawn, patio and raised beds including beautiful planting. He is a true professional and was kind and communicative throughout the process. We couldn’t be happier with the result and have barely left the garden since!

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

Other Recent Projects

If you enjoyed reading about this garden, why not have a quick look at another of my recent projects?  I’ll be writing more in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more updates.

I’d love to see any comments you may have on these designs.  Please do share with anyone who might be interested, that’s always much appreciated.

Mediterranean Style Garden

Click on the photo below to read a short article about a recent Mediterranean garden I designed and built in North Norfolk.

Aerial View of Mediterranean Garden in North Norfolk
Mediterranean garden design in North Norfolk

Small and Sunny Garden Design

Click on the photo below to see more details about a recent garden I designed and built for a Client in east Norfolk.

Small garden design in norfolk
Small garden design in Hemsby, east Norfolk

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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Thoughts about this blog (or leave a comment)

  1. Thanks Richard, we love the garden and it’s great to read about the processes behind it 🙂 Had many super bbqs this summer out on the patio.

    1. Thanks Andy, that’s great. I’m really glad you’re pleased with it. I’d be happy to drop in and see how you (and the garden) are doing next year. Regards, Richard.

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