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Garden Design Blog

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   Small Contemporary Garden Design
by Claire on 

This Garden Design transformed a boring unused rectangular garden,Small Contemporary Garden Design mostly finished in grass, into an attractive contemporary garden which the owner is just dying to sit out in and enjoy.  The design is based on inter locking rectangular spaces with two lawns interconnected but separated by a row of cobbles.  Travertine is the main paving material used in this garden design, together with portuguese granite cobbles.  


Small Contemporary Garden DesignThe path adjacent to the house is finished in travertine paving together with a small patio, surrounded by low growing plants, in the west facing corner of the garden.   A set of stepping stones, which are a feature in themselves, lead through the lawn down the garden to the shed, which is neatly hidden behind a free-standing wall built to its fore.   This wall, together with the rear wall have been plastered and painted an off white colour which will be lit up in the evenings with lights from below to give a very attractive view from the house.   Three pots filled with black Phormiums, to match the fences and Pergola, have been positioned to the fore of the free-standing wall, creating a beautiful feature within the garden which is viewable from the windows of the house. 



A pergola has been built adjacent to the fence nearer the end of the garden on the same side as the patio, which is used to suspend two cocoon style rattan seats to provide a lovely space to relax in and enjoy the garden.   Borders have been created around the perimeter of the garden finished in minimalistic contemporary style plantings and surrounded by a decorative gravel mulch to help reduce maintenance.    The fences on both sides of the garden have been painted a dark grey shade to provide a good backdrop to the garden and help the boundaries of the garden recede into the background.   The pergola has also been painted in the same dark grey to provide a contemporary finish to its design and contrast with wth off white walls.

The owner of this garden is very happy with her garden and is looking forward to the summer enjoying being outside.   She said:  

"My garden is FANTASTIC!!! Thank you so much for the wonderful consulting, design, horticulture expertise, support and advise you gave me on totally reinventing my garden. You have done an amazing job, and put so much time into understanding what design and planting would work for me and I am delighted with the tailored end result.   It has been a wonderful experience working with you.........Brenda"

  
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   Contemporary Garden Design
by Claire on 
Contemporary Garden Design Overview

This contemporary garden design for a back garden was developed for a family living in a newly built large detached house in an urban area of Co Wicklow, Ireland.   The house itself was very modern with large living areas overlooking the garden and the family wanted to be able to enjoy the garden design when viewed from both within the house and when outside.    They wanted a garden design which complimented the house and which enticed them outside to enjoy.  

The garden design makes use of all areas of the garden by developing a patio Patio & Covered BBQadjacent to the house to be enjoyed in the early part of the day and also a sunken patio in the far corner where the setting sun can be enjoyed in the latter part of the day to be used for evening dining.   The patio's are finished in tumbled yellow limestone which blends with the brick in the house wonderfully and is both contemporary but warm.   The patio adjacent to the house links to garden paths which wrap around the back of the house and link to a path to a shed in the far corner of the garden which is screened by a very attractive cedar lath fence complimented by bamboo's.  


Sunken PatioA dedicated space was allowed for a BBQ on the patio nearest the house set adjacent to the boundary, which is to be covered with a modern contemporary style pergola to match a similar design surrounding the sunken patio.   Raised borders finished in clean rendered off white walls surround the BBQ and the sunken patio to add to the contemporary style of the garden design and to add interest by introducing changes in level.

A water feature set against a stone clad wall and L-shaped raised bed atWater Feature & Fire Pit the end of the garden, together with a fire pit to the fore and built in garden seating provides a wonderful vista to be enjoyed from both within the garden and when viewed from the main living spaces of the house.    To break up the lawn and allow access to the features at the end of the garden, a stepping stone garden path was built across the rectangular lawn linking all areas of the garden to complete the design.   

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   Contemporary Garden Design
by Claire on 
Contemporary Garden DesignSometimes simplicity is the best approach to Garden Design.  There is always the temptation to try to add in too much, which does not always give the best result. This is particularly true for Contemporary garden design, which is often minimal with clean sharp lines and structured planting.  


In this garden just outside Dublin in Ratoath, the house was been extended Simplicity in Garden Designand took over most of the previous garden, leaving a garden which was not very deep but still had good width.    The new extention to the house had windows to the rear overlooking the garden across most of its width, leaving a garden which was going to be on View from main living areacomplete view from the main living areas of the house all year around. 

The clients wanted a garden which was an extension of their home which would look good all year around and which included a lounging area, a lawn and a children's play area.    We designed a very structured contemporary garden based on simple rectangular shapes for them which flowed seemlessly from the house.  It features a patio area at the sunniest end of the garden for Children's Play Space finished in Brown Rubber Mulchlounging and dining finished in gorgeous egyptian limestone to give a clean sharp look.     A rectanglar lawn was created adjacent to the patio which was also surrounded by a border of limestone to give a clean edge and to create an attractive feature in itself to be admired from the house.    The border of limestone continues adjacent to the house blending into a path runnning along the side of the house creating a pattern of rectangular shapes within the garden.


A raised border and adjacent wall at right angles in the corner of the patio created an attractive backdrop for the lounging / dining set.    The clients wanted to keep as many of the mature trees / shrubs at the end of the garden as possible for screening, so a long narrow border was created along the rear of the garden.   Additional screening was also provided by adding some height to the top of the wall with cedar laths running horizontally, which together with rendering the concrete block wall provides a lovely back drop to the whole garden.  Two spaces have been left along the back boundary of the garden for the positioning of some garden sculpture at a later date. 


Finally, a children's play space was created at the other end of the garden which was finished in brown rubber mulch.    This gives a lovely natural finish to this area and an appearance very similar to bark mulch.    The plan for this area in the long term when the children are grown is convert this space into another complimentary lawn.  

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   Garden Design on a Slope
by Claire on 

A sloped garden may at first appear to be a difficult situation, however, slopes when taken advantage of in a Garden Design can create possibilities and great interest.    They are challenging but force you to create designs which exploit them to build features into a garden which may otherwise not have been possible.    It is difficult to use areas in a garden which are sloped so for patio's and other areas which require a flat surface terracing is the only option.   

In this garden, constructed this year in Dalkey, Co Dublin, the slope was  significant creating a very challenging garden to both design and construct.  The house itself was upside down, with the living space on the 1st floor, which due to the slope had direct access to the rear garden via a balcony and patio finished in lovely warm, yellow limestone.    The garden was divided into three levels, seperated by donegal quartz curving stone walls which supported each level and connected by a set of steps up one side of the garden which were also finished in yellow limestone, beautifully complimenting the quartz stone.   Even with the three retaining walls, the lawns were still sloped slightly to take up some more of the difference in levels.   A number of other features were added to the garden to create further interest including a pergola to span the steps mid way up and a recessed seat set into the highest of the walls to create a lovely feature at this level. 

Coupled with gorgeous planting, there is no doubt that as a result of these challenges, a very beautiful garden was created which will give years of enjoyement to the new owners.  


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   Brick Garden Design
by Claire on 

Brick Raised BedsUsing traditional bricks in a garden design gives a lovely warm finish which works very well in lots of settings, from built up urban areas to larger traditional country gardens.   We designed this garden which was completed recently in the Crumlin area of Dublin.   The owners were keen gardeners but their existing garden was a garden of filled with Brick Garden Designpots of flowering plants. 


They wanted to build a new garden with lots of room for plants which was not only warm and inviting but functional as well, so that they could enjoy their hobby of gardening.   So, we gave them lots of raised borders for plants and also an outdoor sink for washing those pots and space for a greenhouse. 


They wanted to use bricks on the walls and ground.  However, using traditional bricks on the ground is not recommended by the brick manufacutures as water lying on the ground can cause damage to the bricks over time.   So, we choose a lovely brick for the walls and then matched it with a paving block suitable for the ground.   It worked reallly well and the owners are very happy with their new garden which arrived just in time for the summer! 

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   Plants which look their best in Winter!
by Claire on 

HelleboresWinter is a quite time in the garden and a lot of people would not think that there are many plants worth looking at during this time of the year.  However, there are some plants which look their best during the winter and if you want to have a garden with all year around interest then you should Birch under planted with Cornus 'Midwinter Fire'consider adding some of these to your garden.  

I visited recently the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Hampshire, UK which it claims has the largest winter garden in Europe.  It has been designed to display attractively plants which are at Hamamelistheir best between November and March.   This is the time of the year where form and texture in the garden can be most appreciated and evergreen plants are essential to maintain a backbone.     Plants which have beautifully coloured bark, like Cornus (Dogwood) and Betula (Birch) can be set off attractively Heathersagainst a carpet of evergreen low growing foliage.    One of the best flowering perennials for the winter is Helleborus (Hellebores) and in a winter garden you cannot be without at least one of these, however, they come in many colours and if you have space a large swath of Hellebores in winter Snowdropsis a wonderful sight.  

Shrubs which flower in the winter include Hamamelis, Daphe, Viburunum and Sarcocca.   Some of these have wonderful scent which is best appreciated if they are planted adjacent to a path.    Bulbs are essential in late winter including Snowdrops Evergreen Winter Borderand Cyclamen which are wonderful under planting mature deciduous trees where little else will grow.   Heathers are a plant which some people do not like, however, they are evergreen, flower in winter, are available in lots of colours and when planted in mass can produce great structure and colour in the garden A sea of Cyclamen and Snowdropsin winter. 

Come late winter some of the best flowering shrubs are at their best, including Camelia's, some Magnolias and Rhododendrons.   


Every garden should have at least a few plants which are planted for winter interest, however, make sure you plant them where you can see them in the winter.   Do not plant them at the end of the garden, as you won't venture that far when the weather is not good.  Plant them, near the house, maybe in the front garden, where they can be appreciated when they are at their best. 

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   Contemporary Garden Design with 'Wow' Factor!
by Claire on 

Contemporary PatioThe Client for whom this garden was designed for, wanted a garden with the 'Wow' factor.   She didn't just want a patio but wanted something out of the ordinary which stood out from the crowd.   She wanted to use the best materials to make something special of her garden.   It was a really beautiful large house and garden in a lovelyWalls with openings around raised patio area with wonderful views out to the sea but the garden, neither front nor back did it justice.   The existing garden was filled with old fashioned island beds set in lawns with sandstone patios surrounded by mixed hedges.   They did nothing to enhance or compliment this lovey house. 

Deck Connecting PathwayThe garden design created a contemporary outdoor living space, extending the house out into the garden with with dedicated areas for lounging, dining and relaxing.    The garden design used Egyptian limestone to create a design of sharp lines with seperate areas linked together with varying materials to produce a wonderful compliment to the house whilst at the same time taking advantage of the natural setting by opening up and enhancing the views beyond.    The planting was structured in line with the overall design wtih large blocks of the same plant repeated throughout the design.  

The design divided the patio into three main areas, the first directly Raised Bedadjacent to the sun room of the house for lounging which then drops down into another patio surrounded by an L shaped low wall, positioned to allow wonderful views out to the sea.   An insert of decking in this patio compliments another patio linked to the first by a pathway of decking.  This patio is raised slightly and surrounded by two walls at right angles creating an enclosed dining area, with openings in the walls allowing views of the garden beyond. 

The planting in this garden design needs to mature to compliment the hard landscaping but even without the full effect of the planting the patio already has the 'Wow' factor that was requested.

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   Enclosed Contemporary Patio in a Large Garden
by Claire on 

Wall with Water Wall!Gardens near the sea or in open rural locations can sometimes be quite exposed to winds, making it difficult to enjoy the garden.   These gardens often have lovely views of the countryside and it is such a shame that their owners cannot enjoy their gardens and the surrounding views more.    One solution to the problem is to try to cut out the wind and create enclosed Patio surrounded on two sides by wallsareas where the garden can be enjoyed out of the wind.   In the long term tree screening can prove very effective, however, trees can take some time to grow and not every one wants to wait a few years to be able to enjoy their garden.   An alternative approach is to create an enclosed area adjacent to the main living areas of the house surrounded by some type of wind barrier. 
Enclosted Contemporary Patio
In this garden we created an enclosed patio surrounded by walls on two sides which still allowed a vista of the best view out to the sea.    The walls were softened by adjacent raised borders finished with chunky granite capping and beautiful planting.  The walls were also broken along there lengths by sections of stone panels to add interest.  Water Wall

A sunken L shaped sitting area was created in the corner to further decrease the wind providing a wonderfully snug place to enjoy a morning coffee or evening glass of wine!    The patio was finished in grey granite but was broken by a rectangle of decking in the centre to accentuate an outdoor dining area.  


Sunken Lounging AreaTo add that something special to the design a water feature was built against the wall directly opposite the main living area of the house.    The feature was made using a water blade which creates a perfect sheet of water cascading from one of the rock panels into a rectanglur pond below. 

To finish the design and further soften the surrounding wall, an espalied Stone Panelshedge was planted behind the wall.    This is basically a hedge on stilts which has a branched structure starting about 1.8m from the ground.  It therefore rises above the wall and provides further wind resistance but in a softer manner and should the reduce wind Garden Before turbulance created by the wall itself.  

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   Growing Your Own
by Claire on 

My daily crop!  I am very pleased this year with the veg tables I am growing in my Greenhouse, particularly so with the peppers.   I normally grow Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers and Courgettes.  They have all done well this year but I think I have finally cracked it with the Peppers, producing peppers as good as you would get in the store.   The tomatoes were a bit late to ripen and the cucumbers are still quite small, although delicious.     Apart from planting in good compost with plenty of organic matter, plus regular liquid feeds I believe the secret is regular watering.   This year i have an automatic watering system, so I am not running out to water them every day.    The only daily problem I now have to address is making sure that the green house is ventilated, particularly on warm or sunny days. 

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   Cherry Blossom
by Claire on 

Cherry BlossomI love Cherry Blossom trees but i have heard some complaints over the years about the cherry blossom petals and the difficulties they cause.  I never really understood the problem as surely the beauty of these trees would surpass any inconvenience they cause once a year.  Some clients of mine have said that they wouldn't even consider a Cherry Blossom tree in White Cherry Blossom Treetheir garden because of this.  

However, I recently came across this garden and parked car in a south dublin estate which was absolutely covered in the petals.   The sight stopped me in my tracks and I just had to take a photo.  I had never seen a garden so covered in the blossom. 

I was left wondering how come I never saw such a sight before?    Maybe some Cherry Trees have more blossom than others?   Maybe, I was always so transfixed by the beauty of the tree itself I never saw the blossom on the ground? 

I did then have to reconsider my previous opinion and I now understand the problem.    However, I still think that the beauty of the tree is worth it, in fact it even has a beauty of its own, covering the ground in such a lovely carpet of pink blossom!

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