A Peaceful Zen-Style Garden

A Peaceful Zen-Style Garden

We were invited to look at a large front and rear garden in Carlton, Leicestershire. The existing plot (below) was well kept but largely uninspiring. It featured small islands of Zen-Buddhist style rocks and features, but they didn’t blend in with the rest of the garden. The home-owners were keen to keep the Zen features, but also wanted functional spaces whilst ensuring the garden was a tranquil space.

Before shot

Our proposed scheme made use of the Zen features and the mature trees that were on site, but reduced the existing lawn and paved areas. We expanded on the planting areas and specified natural materials throughout. The focus of the garden was a curved Eucalyptus hardwood deck leading to a Japanese-style Tea House with Cedar shingle roof, from where the clients could relax and admire the garden. The scheme was accepted, and work began in February 2014.

Once the landscaping commenced it became clear the site had drainage issues. We had already identified the need for a land drain, but the problem proved to be larger than we had anticipated. The landscaping team from AC.Creations solved the drainage problem, but as a result the budget wouldn’t stretch to meet the cost of the Tea House as originally designed. Through some creative ingenuity they were able to revise the specification and built a version which fitted into the original budget.

View from the Tea House

The design of the garden featured two interlocking circular lawns surrounding a circle of stone chippings with a large sculptural rock and inset planting of Acers, Hostas and Pinus Mugo. The larger of the two lawns was bordered on one edge by a sweeping curved hardwood deck, which led to the main deck and the Tea House. The surrounds were planted with Hemerocallis, Salvia, Hostas, Geranium, Helenium, Gaura, with evergreen Euonymus and Buxus. We added to the trees with Amelanchier, and we also added shrubs and grasses for extra colour and movement. In the shaded areas below the existing mature trees we planted Hostas, Ferns, Foxgloves, Hellebores, Tellima, Hakonechloa and Pachysandra.

Herbaceous planting

Surrounding the smaller lawn we installed some sleepers on edge to act as a curved sculptural feature to break up the straight lines of the fence beyond. This area was planted with woodland planting. Adjacent to this we added some natural willow trellis screens to obscure an oil tank.

Curved sleeper feature

Throughout the garden we worked with the existing Zen elements collected by our clients, which we complimented with some sympathetic planting. We think they definitely add an air of calm and serenity to the finished space.

Zen-style planting complimented the original features

Among the elements not shown here, we also installed raised timber vegetable planters and a greenhouse; an outdoor chess board into one of the stone paths; more willow screening and a large herbaceous raised bed in the front garden, surrounding a gravel driveway.


We wanted a tranquil garden that exudes beauty as well as having functionality for our needs. Anna listened to our ideas and requirements and translated these into a wonderful vision of what could be achieved with the creative use of space, along with a fabulous planting plan.

The plan became a reality through the craftsmanship of Antony and Mark (AC.Creations). We have been very impressed by the care and attention to detail throughout, from early thoughts to design and production. Thank you to a great group of professionals.

Mrs P

Carlton, Leicestershire

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