I’ve designed a few of these in my time, and the thing that always stands out is how much difference a little, green oasis in a city can make to someones life-style.
This is very satisfying for me, to unlock all that potential, but the benefit to the clients is immense. They have somewhere to come back to and relax at the end of a busy day, it’s designed uniquely for them and that means they really connect with the space.
This garden was a distinctly un-inviting space before the design, and not a good view from inside the house either.
So here’s my guide to designing a long, narrow garden (because that’s what town gardens usually are)
It’s a good idea to think about the basic ingredients first before you get to the detail:
° a paved area that’s big enough for your table and chairs,
° possibly some storage for tools etc,
° a path so you can make your way through the garden in all weathers,
° plants that not only suit your taste but suit the soil too,
° a style that reflects the interior of your house and your lifestyle (i.e. how much time you have to look after the garden etc.)
A plan for a typical long, narrow London garden:
This south London garden measures 42 metres long and 7 metres wide, and was definately in need of a proper lay-out.
the view from the house
The view from the garden towards the house:
The interior of the house is contemporary with great attention to detail, so the garden had to compliment this.
The owners are creative types, they didn’t want anything too conventional. They like strong colours and bold shapes, nothing too pretty or airy-fairy, and had sculpture that they wanted to display.
It’s always a good idea to separate the garden into good proportions, three or four partially divided areas in a long, narrow garden work well.
The garden has to look good from the downstairs and upstairs windows in the house.
The lay-out of the garden
The design divides the garden into three distinct areas:
- A section near the house with a small table and a couple of chairs.
- The middle section was excavated and made into a sunken area with a narrow pool, many plants are at eye level which makes it quite interesting. It’s nicely tucked away and private too.
- The end of the garden is screened by a timber pergola and is a lovely, cool place to sit on summer evenings.
Having seats in each of the areas gives a different view of the garden.
There’s a bistro table and chairs near the house if there’s only time for a quick cup of coffee, while under the pergola at the end of the garden is a larger table and chairs for outdoor eating.
Equipment and tools etc will be stored in a small out-house at the side of the house, so precious garden space doesn’t have to be used for a shed.
The plants are an important part of the design
They’re not just a decorative after-thought, they play a valuable role in adding structure and drama to the design.
In this garden they were used to form screens so that you get tantalising glimpses through the garden.
Fortunately there were some great plants there already, and these were incorporated into the design. Like the slab of Yew hedge, mature trees and the glorious euphorbia next to the pool.
The grasses through the garden are one of the things that hold the design together. They change through the year, from vibrant green in the spring to straw-blond in the late summer-autumn.
With an eye to sustainability
° As many plants as possible were retained, there’s no point buying new plants when there are perfectly good ones there already. Appropriate plants were selected for the soil & conditions so they’ll flourish and won’t need replacing.
° Reclaimed scaffold boards were used for the decking.
° There are two compost bins for garden & kitchen waste to be re-used in the garden to improve the soil.
° A reclaimed metal R.S.J. was used as a water spout for the pool.
So there you have it, I hope you find some useful advice.
I’d love to hear about your city garden.