Modernising a family garden

The brief for this irregularly-shaped, three-level town garden in Ashby de la Zouch was to bring it up-to-date and open up the space. Not only was the existing layout old-fashioned but the journey through the garden was badly laid out, and felt dark and claustrophobic. A set of overpowering concrete steps led up to an area which was difficult to get past, and there was far too much paving.

The garden before was started work, with the massive, over-powering steps.

We decided on a contemporary design with warm-coloured materials and softened, straight lines. Part of our solution was to reclaim a large section of the existing paving to bring the lawn and planting areas closer to the house. This involved dropping the first level by 80cm. We decided to retain the weeping birch by excavating around it and encasing it in a wooden planter. This had the effect of opening out the space and allowing access beneath the tree, where before you had to stoop to get under it.

We replaced the remaining grey concrete paving with natural sandstone, and softened the existing concrete walls with timber cladding. A large pergola was removed to bring more light into the second level, and we relocated the children’s play equipment to a dog-leg bend at the end of the garden. This allowed us to create mixed lawn and herbaceous planting areas, with plenty of space for the children to play.

We also completely renovated the front garden planting by removing a concrete path and rope edging, and replanting with a selection of shrubs and spring-flowering herbaceous plants such as Epimedium, Euphorbia, Primula and ferns, and I shall be revisiting in the autumn to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Here is a before and after view from the first floor of the house.

The ‘before’ view.

The ‘after’ view, with feature tree planter, new lawn and natural sandstone paving and steps.

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