Prospective clients often ask us if there is a minimum size of garden that we will work on. Our answer is always no. This is partly because small gardens are not necessarily low budget, but primarily because they can be the most rewarding to work on. Every little detail counts in small garden design, and even the smallest of apparently unusable space can be turned into an outdoor space where people want to spend their time.
By way of an example, we designed, landscaped and planted this smallish garden in Lower Earley over late 2016 and early 2017. As you can see from the before pictures below, the old garden was simply laid to lawn, with a shed in one of the bottom corners, and a gate in the bottom fence. There was only a tiny amount of planting, and no patio at all.
The client asked for a relatively low maintenance garden – one where she could potter without being a slave to it, and to have somewhere to sit with the family, and perhaps also somewhere to escape and sit quietly. A route to the gate was required, but definitely not a lawn. To keep costs at a reasonable level, the client decided to keep the existing fence and gate for the time being, and to paint them.
The new design featured a large family patio near the house, leading through an arch (and planting) to a private little courtyard with a sun seat, and low central planting. A path leads off the courtyard to the shed door and back gate, flanked by lush planting featuring a new small tree and lots of late summer / autumn colour.
The design itself is fairly simple but well thought through – showing that you really don’t need a highly complicated garden design to have a successful garden. And a key component is the planting – lush, leafy and always with seasonal colour. In addition to plenty of evergreen structure, the central courtyard is full of traditional summer colour (roses, Lavender etc), the shadier north facing parts are full of spring and winter interest plants, accompanied by lacy ferns. And the far end has a backdrop of shrubs with plenty of foliage variation and colour, fronted by late summer and autumn flowering perennials.
So, whilst the garden has plenty of hard landscaping, the overall effect is soft, airy, and pleasing to the eye – a garden which draws you into it. And a garden which will hopefully give the client enjoyment for many years to come.