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Rear Garden in Harefield

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Brief for the Stables »

 

 

Site Analysis:

Automated gates through the original red brick boundary wall lead into a vast gravel drive area, which approaches the house side-on.

As can be seen in the picture above, weathered Yorkstone steps lead up to the impressive porch and front door, with Yorkstone also running along the front of the property. The arches over the windows reflect the porch style and give a very pleasing, symmetrical feel to the whole frontage.

 

 

There are some planting beds facing the house, although the planting within them is rather sparse.

The front of the house faces south-east.

 

 

 

 

To one side of the house, through a wide gateway, is the garage, which is built-in to the house, and the forecourt in this area has been largely concreted over for practicality by a previous owner. 

 

 

 

There is a planting bed running along the boundary wall of this side of the house, and a small bed with a Box hedge and sundial is the view from the window. There is also a small shed in one corner opposite this small area.

 

 

Carrying on through a second gate, one moves around to the back of the house and into another area, this also paved with Yorkstone, as the front. There is also a brick structure partially dividing it from the main rear garden and some sleeper-built raised beds.

 

 

 

The main rear garden has a large, if rather uneven lawn, with surrounding planting beds and a rather overgrown and dilapidated rockery.

There is also some Yorkstone paving to the back of the house, but the patio area is mainly concreted.

 

To one side of the rear garden there is an area which is hidden from view by shrubs and trees, which has been envisaged for use as a children’s play area.

Also on that side of the garden, there are various brick built structures including a composting area, built-in barbecue and seating.

Moving round to the other side of the house, there is a crazy-paved patio area which is overlooked from the lounge...

...and a planting bed with mature trees. A brick wall separates this area from the front drive.

Brief

The owners had spent a long time renovating and extending the house and now wanted to bring the outside spaces up to those same high standards.The gardens needed to be practical to use for both family and visitors, and that called for a complete re-design of all areas.The front garden gives the first impression of the property and as such needed to provide a real ‘wow’ factor, whilst retaining the understated elegance of the Georgian façade.

The drive itself was currently laid to gravel and, whilst this is very much in keeping with the age of the property, it is neither practical to use as it is a loose surface, nor easy to maintain, given its tendency for weeds. We looked at possibly either using granite cobbles or resin bound aggregate, or a combination of the two. Resin bound aggregate would still have the look of gravel, but would have a solid surface, making it much more practical. It is also porous and therefore complies with SUDS laws.

Either way, the owners didn’t need quite as much space for parking, allowing us to increase the size of planting beds to provide both a more pleasing welcome to the property, and also more interesting views out from the windows of the house.

We intend to keep parking to the area nearest the gates, rather than in front of the house, although the boundary wall at the front entrance to the property will also need buttresses as part of the work, to ensure its long term stability. Also, whilst surveying the site, we noted that the pointing to the road side of the boundary wall had deteriorated significantly and will need re-pointing at some point.

To emphasise the main entrance we intend to construct new paving and steps leading up to the front door. Our clients prefer a rectangular pattern instead of the current curves and this will be reflected in the shape of the planting beds facing the house too.The paving will continue along the front of the house much as it does now, but there is no need for the paving that currently runs around in front of the side wall which separates the drive from the side patio. Instead we will bring in more planting.

To complement the symmetrical window arrangement and to break up the expanse of brickwork, we talked about planting some tall, columnar trees along the front of the house between the windows – such as Pencil Cypresses. The owners also mentioned that they would like a couple of ‘lollipop’ Bay trees in large, antique-style urns either side of the front door for emphasis.

Opposite the front door there is a focal point in the form of an oriental lantern set on a square cobbled area. Whilst this makes sense as a feature that we will replace with something more suitable.

The rear garden has enormous potential as a really exciting family space, with scope for many different areas for entertaining, relaxation and play.

Our clients would like to re-use as much of the original Yorkstone as possible as it is both in keeping with the age of the house, but also very expensive to replace, and ideally they would like to use it to create a patio which flows around the house, linking all the different areas together, including the patio outside the lounge room doors.

At the moment all the various features and spaces feel a little disjointed  and are therefore underused, so bringing everything together as an integrated whole is very important to the family. The existing brick structure to the back of the house can be removed in order to realise this aim, but the owners would like to retain the structure to the side – removing the top of the pillars, seating and barbecue and re-inventing the area to create inviting curved seating with a sunken fire pit.

However, the main seating area is outside the kitchen for practicality and this will be on one level of paving, extending out as far as the existing low brick walls/raised beds.  The family would like to have a table large enough to seat ten people and this area will give them enough space to do this, and to entertain family and friends, whilst still leaving space to move around comfortably.

From this level will be a step down onto another level of paving, leading round to the back of the house and curving round to a path around the lawn.

Our clients wanted to include a gas BBQ in the area to the back of the house next to the garage as this is a good location being shady, and the smoke is kept away from the house, but the chef can still see out into the garden and be sociable with guests.They like the idea of incorporating some elements of an ‘outdoor kitchen’ and this could be linked to either the ‘Garden Room’ or the ‘Lean-to’, which would be placed at an angle so as to provide views across the garden as well as back to the house.

Removal of the existing Yew tree will make all this possible and the new feature would provide an additional place to sit and entertain outside when the weather is not so good, or with the addition of a fireplace, even in winter. It would also provide a stunning focal point from inside the house too.

We will retain a large lawn in the rear garden, although the grass that is there will need to be replaced as it is very uneven and prone to ants’ nests! The overall theme will be curvy and soft, in contrast to the more formal feel of the front, so the new lawn will have a curvaceous shape and we will retain the existing brick edge to the back of the garden. The lawn will be surrounded by planting beds containing traditional, ‘blousy’ planting with a romantic country garden feel. However, as the owners spend a lot of time away, all planting will have to be fairly low-maintenance, so we will opt for a mix of shrubs and perennials for easy care.

They are not particular about the colours of the blooms, but would like to include some perfumed planting and spaces for herbs and vegetable growing. The owners are keen on Lavender and Freesias and want to include some wildflower meadow planting and some espalier fruit trees along the back wall. As children and dogs will use the garden, all planting will be non-toxic.

In the area to the side currently partially screened off from the rest of the garden by planting, we will create a ‘secret’ play area for the children. It will be cleared to reveal the space large enough to accommodate a substantial play structure, a play house, a sunken trampoline and a large structure of the Olympic mascot, Mandeville. The play structure will be of timber construction and include as many exciting features as we can fit in, such as a tower, slide, swings, climbing wall/net, monkey bars, etc. As a safe and practical surface beneath we will lay artificial turf.

The path to the play area will encircle the lawn, providing a continuous cycle route for the children, and will be constructed using ‘hoggin’, which is a material often used for paths in parks and tends to be more forgiving than paving, should they fall.

The approach to the play area will be made more enticing for the children with a wild woodland theme to the planting, creating something of an enchanted forest feel to their secret space.

A water butt attached to the new shed (and others around the house) would also be useful, as would an automated irrigation system serving all the different garden areas.

The walls at the back of the garden need some attention and repair and we will inform the neighbours of any intended work.

The area outside the lounge doors is to be re-paved with the reclaimed Yorkstone and the planting beds are to be livened up to provide year–round interest.

At the other side of the house, the owners don’t intend to use the garage for cars as it is right underneath their daughter’s bedroom, but would like to keep that option open for the future. They want a simple courtyard treatment to the space, maybe using traditional cobbles, but certainly with more interesting planting to the bed under the wall. The area outside the dining room window can have quite a formal treatment to create a focal point which can also be up-lit for night-time interest, perhaps with a new sundial/urn surrounded by formal planting, including Lavender. The existing railing screening the utilities cupboard is to be retained and tidied up.

The existing shed and steps will be removed and in their place we will put a log store and bin storage.

Finally, a new lighting system will also add an exciting dimension to all the gardens, making them not only useable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With inset lighting to the paving and steps and up-lighting to trees, focal points and structural planting, the effects can be dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a more subtle feel can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion. For the lighting we will use LEDs that do not heat up so are very safe and can’t burn children, pets or plants, and they are approximately 75% cheaper to run than standard fittings. Also, the system will be on a remote control for ease of use, will be controllable from ipads, iphones and smartphones from anywhere in the world, and, the installation being wireless, will not need to disrupt the internal decoration with new wiring and switches.

 

 

Fill out our enquiry form, or  call us on 0844 326 1552 and speak to one of our friendly expert staff to start the process of designing your dream garden!

 

 

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