Conversion to a Large Family Garden in Leicestershire

Winner of the 2016 LABC East Midlands Building Excellence Award for Best Change of Use for an Existing Building or Conversion

In 2012 we were contacted by David Granger Architectural Design. They asked us to design a large family garden to accompany a school house conversion project they’d been working on.

The site was large. Nearly 3,500 square meters of overgrown scrub and meadow, with a six-metre change of level from one end to the other. Sitting within it was a derelict, arrow-shaped, brick-built school house. You could see it had once been a beautiful building, with semicircular windows and a quaint little bell tower. After its life as a school, the building had been home to a light engineering firm. Remnants of dilapidated outbuildings and sheds were dotted about the site.

The task at hand was to bring this building and the grounds back to life in the form of a stylish, modern home with a large family garden. The architect has already designed his scheme for the interior and the renovation of the building. We were asked to design a sympathetic landscaping scheme for the grounds, to include all hard landscaping, planting and outdoor features.

After meeting and talking directly to the clients and looking at the architect’s proposals, we drew up a list of required features for the garden. As well as the practical items like a gravel driveway, and working out the retaining walls and steps around the property, the clients wanted two lawns, several raised feature planting beds, an outdoor kitchen, decked areas, two water features, privacy screening and lots of attractive planting. We also proposed a summer house to sit alongside an existing pond.

Working closely with the client, the architect and the contractor, Lychgate Homes, our designs were approved. We drew up several detailed plans for the contractor, including paving layout plans and decking and kitchen construction drawings, and we produced our own detailed planting plans. The final specification document ran to 15 pages, and construction of the hard landscaping began in November 2012.

Rear garden

Around the perimeter of the lawns we have planted deep herbaceous borders featuring LED up-lighters to highlight the existing trees, and around one large ash tree, we have designed a hexagonal timber seat.

Closer to the house we designed solid block raised planters. These were clad with Stonemarket Haus split-face slate tiles – cream for the planters and grey for the water feature. Each planter has its own themed planting scheme. One contained Heuchera ‘Blackberry Jam’ and Tellima Grandiflora; another featured Lavender ‘Hidcote’ and Rosa ‘Aphrodite’, underplanted with Allium Hollandicum and Lilium regale and a feature Stipa gigantea grass. The paving throughout was Bradstone Smooth Natural Sandstone in Dune and Silver Grey.

Front garden

At the front of the property, we added a large, gravel driveway from a gated entrance. Outside the front door, we included a large granite circle, flanked with containers and more shrub and herbaceous planting.

Outdoor kitchen – al fresco dining

In the rear garden, we designed a decked, outdoor kitchen area with barbecue, sink and granite worktops. This was complemented by a large summer house with storage, soft seating and a flat-screen TV. The decking was made from Ecodek, low maintenance recycled composite material.

We left it eighteen months before going back to photograph, in order to give the plants time to mature and fill out. As it turned out, we went back exactly three years after our first visit. We’re very pleased with the results, as were our clients – their testimonial is below.

Lush Garden Design both designed and planted our wonderful new garden and I would not hesitate in recommending them to others.

Anna spent the time and effort upfront to understand what we liked, wanted and didn’t want in our new garden and came up with some fabulous, creative designs which we worked with her to finalise.

Once the designs were finalised, Anna created a detailed specification of the hard landscaping work required and helped us to appoint a suitable contractor to perform the work to our satisfaction. Anna’s time, energy and commitment to ensure the contractor carried out the work to the required standard was impressive and undoubtedly added enormous value to the project.

Anna personally planted all of the soft landscaping which was no mean feat, sometimes in appalling weather conditions! She carried out the overall project to plan; both on time and on budget and without doubt to the standards promised and agreed.

The end result is a credit to Anna and her team and we are delighted. The garden speaks for itself and every time we go into it we see another new colour or flower emerging. This is a large garden and Anna had to start from scratch with both the design and planting. There was very little to start with and her vision and ability to create a wonderful, outdoor space for us is a rare skill.

She has been excellent to work with, always willing to give her time and opinion and has stayed in touch to ensure that we remain satisfied with our new garden.

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