This east-facing back garden was very public, being bordered at its rear by a narrow access road for all of the houses in the terrace to which it belonged. A 3ft lapboard fence marked out the boundaries. Lain mainly to slab and with minimal planting, the space was only used to dry the washing and for the kids to kick a ball round in. There was a very imposing leylandii hedge at the back of the property, screening a large building.


The owners decided they wanted to create an outdoor living space that had the appearance of privacy and gave an impression of being in a larger space. They expressed interest in bold architectural plants with colourful foliage and movement. Organic sound was desired as well as year round colour.

Due to the garden being close to the city centre and in a built up area, the owners wanted to create a space attractive to local wildlife as well as providing some escapism from urban living.




After 24 months (mature)

Lowering the ground level close to the house provided surplus soil with which to raise the back of the garden, creating a feeling of terrain. Gravel was used to give the impression of a riverbed as well as to provide a unifying covering.
Stepping stones were embedded to suggest the garden continued beyond the fence which, once the planting had matured, wouldn’t be so visible.
The logs and rock shale were used to define planting areas and reinforce the impression of having been deposited by storm flooding in recent history. In the background, the ornamental cherry was matched by a Worcester black pear tree, both of which would flower at the same time, giving a double burst of spring colour.
A small stream curved around the central planting bed, running over exposed rock and creating sound and movement. The stream was shallow enough that birds were using it to wash themselves within days of it being installed.
At the head of the stream, water gurgled out of a small rock face over split rock; once the planting matured, visitors would need to search for the source of the sound.
The owners added a bench in the garden, giving themselves an alternative viewpoint on the space.
Decking and a pergola was added just outside the kitchen window to provide a space to entertain and to grow climbers, adding to the overall feeling of colour and abundant planting.
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© 2018 by Ian Bilson

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