Our clients had renovated this detached property in Chislehurst, Kent to a very high standard and they wanted to replicate the same quality of finish to the outside spaces.
In the front garden there was a large Copper beech tree and hedging to the three boundaries but little else, as it has been cleared during the renovation work that had taken place on the house.
The rear garden is on four levels, which our clients wanted to keep. There was room for a patio next to the house, provision for new steps, left by the builders, up to two separate lawn levels, and then existing steps up to an area at the back, where there was a large greenhouse in need of repair, and a small shed.
The existing planting comprised a large Cedar tree and a Magnolia, as well as several other established shrubs.
The front garden -
On a practical level our clients needed room to park cars, but did not want this aspect to dominate the scheme as this area was to be primarily a garden and not a car park!
The new drive leads up from the road to the garage and curves around forming a path to the front door. The main parking area is sited away from the windows and the main entrance and the drive is finished with gravel edged with natural sandstone setts.
There is a large curved lawn with planting beds around it, the original Copper Beech tree stayed as it casts a fair amount of shade in the summer time and the surrounding planting was selected with this in mind.
Our clients preferred a traditional scheme, with a mix of evergreen and deciduous planting to provide year-round interest and colour and in general they wanted a soft, relaxed planting scheme, with nothing too contemporary. They favoured soft pastel colours such as blues, pinks, mauves and whites and these look particularly good in the shady setting.
Favourite plants include Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Heathers and Lavender and there is some perfumed planting around the entrances, with some climbers on the front of the house.
The rear garden -
The emphasis on the traditional theme continues and our clients wanted to keep the tiered structure of the garden.
The lower area nearest to the house became a new patio using Antique Limestone paving which is laid in a random pattern to give an impression of age. The retaining walls and the sides of the steps were then clad to replicate the look of an old stone built wall.
The second and third levels are mainly laid to lawn to provide scope for play, and we incorporated planting to the side banks and new planting beds along the retaining walls and banks, with plants trailing down over the edges. The 'steps' left by the builders were built with the treads matching the paving on the patio and were clad to match the walls of the raised beds.
The planting scheme is soft and colourful, just like the front garden, including many old cottage garden favourites. The garden is low maintenance using non-toxic and child-friendly plants.
Along one bank we planted a meadow which shows different species of wild flowers growing in it as the season progresses. It will only need to be mown once all the flowering has stopped, probably around the autumn time, and then left to lay for a few days to allow the seeds to be retained in readiness for the following spring.
The original large Cedar, the Magnolia and the small fruit tree were kept, as were some of the other plants in the original beds, to which we added new varieties to give colour and interest throughout the seasons.
There are herbs growing amongst the other planting in the bed next to the retaining wall on the patio, and also we included a climber-covered pergola over the old path at the back of the garden, leading to the vegetable garden where we built raised vegetable beds from new railway sleepers.
One side of the house is completely transformed by the paving and the matching coping stones on top of the newly clad wall. New planting softens the hard landscaping.
Lighting adds an exciting dimension to the garden, making it not only safely useable on summer evenings, but also visually accessible in the winter months. With inset lighting to the raised bed walls, the patio and steps, and uplighting to the pergola and structural planting, the effects are dramatic. However, with the use of different circuits, a more subtle feel can be achieved, according to the mood and occasion.
We added a stepping stone path to one side of the garden which allows easy access to the garden for wheelbarrows.
We built raised beds on the fourth level for growing vegetables, and the existing large greenhouse and small shed stayed in situ. Finally we installed a water butt on one side of the house.
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