Merging hard and soft landscaping into an Artist’s View

The Brief

Having previously designed the planting for the front garden of this modernised house; I was asked to stylise the back.

My client wanted to visually and physically link the hard landscaping running around the back of the house, to a new decking area, nicknamed the “landing pad.” The remote “landing pad” appeared to float in the lawn making it difficult to cut and maintain – plus the grass was struggling!

The design needed to anchor this rather remote “landing pad” in the garden and link the contemporary styled back elevation of the house to the already established, naturalised garden beyond.

As part of the redesign my client requested low maintenance, year-round interest and colour to create a more pleasing view from the house.

My Design

When thinking about the design, I had to consider the garden and house as a whole. How the deck worked alongside the adjacent and more naturalised garden beyond and also as a complete view from the house.

I felt screening was required around the back of the deck to create an open backdrop. In the form of grey vertical timbers positioned with equal gaps, the screen gives a feeling of seclusion when seated on the deck, without cutting off the view to the garden beyond.

Replacing the struggling lawn with an attractive modern gravel garden between the house and the landing pad, I introduced colour and views up into the garden from the house.

The linear design of the gravel garden disguises the slightly awkward angles. Using aggregate, cobbles and planting, in colours that complement the house materials, with a weed-suppressing membrane hidden beneath, to keep weeding to a minimum. The garden is planted with island beds, allowing passage around them without the formality of hard paths. A low lavender hedge (Lavandula angustifolia “Hidcote”) softens the edges, giving scent as well as attracting bees and butterflies.

In the back corner I suggested a Crab Apple (Malus ‘Adirondack’) to add height and interest and to attract wildlife, with its white blossom and red berries, all combined to contrast against the dark grey fence.

The east boundary fence was painted dark grey to match the open timber screen, creating a dramatic backdrop for planting and blending with the modern architecture of the house.

By using a mix of colourful Mediterranean-style plants, the “pad” is now surrounded by a pleasing palette of colours and forms to complement the dark grey backdrop all year round. Training glossy evergreen Trachelospermum with its highly scented white flowers along the fence; tall wafty Verbena bonariensis in front of the grey screen; a large olive tree in a complementary container and the large established fig tree against the fence, combine to give a lovely mix of colour, texture, movement and shape affording a beautiful vista from the house.

So pleasing in fact that my client, an Art Teacher, has been inspired to get out and play with watercolour pens to capture the vista for the first time in a long while!


“Nicola considered our needs carefully, recommending skilled workers for the digging and installation. All plants were labelled and planned for us to refer back to for necessary after-care and Nicola has kept in contact to ensure the garden remains healthy. The choice of plants has proved extremely effective with good seasonal interest. We have no hesitation in recommending her services.”
Mr & Mrs Smith, Winchester

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