We were delighted to be appointed to re-design a small garden space in south west London in early spring. This week the most rewarding part of our work was upon us as we pruned and snipped the plants to perfection and made the finishing touches to the space.


We were very fortunate to work with a great client who was very open minded about what the style of the garden design should be and we presented 2 options during our initial garden design concept stage. This is an opportunity for us to produce a design option based entirely on our clients initial design brief for the garden but we often put together something completely different as an option for the garden. On this occasion I was inspired to present something completely different. The garden is not overlooked and did not really need to conform to a certain style. Our client who is possibly one of the busiest and most energetic people I have met (having just completed the London Marathon when we started work) needed a total escape after a day at work and a really cool place to entertain friends at weekends. I presented a concept based on making the space appear as big as possible, making the boundary disappear as far as possible whilst being attractive when viewed up close. Using dark colours for the hard landscape materials and low maintenance planting that softened the effect and contrasted with the hard colour scheme.


Black baton fencing

Black baton fencing

The garden design is very versatile, at least 8 people can comfortably enjoy the garden and to make the budget stretch as far as possible we opted for an Ikea set of furniture. Although usually not my favourite ranges of furniture the Ikea ‘Falster’ range ticked all the boxes in terms of colour, ability to stack, cost and ultimately the flexibility of how all the garden furniture neatly tucks under the table. This small garden easily accommodates 2 armchairs, 2 chairs, 1 bench and a healthy size table. Our client also wanted somewhere comfortable to chill out so we have included 2 John Lewis ‘Ariel’ lounge chairs that can be moved around the garden to catch the sun. The side return of the garden has had a makeover too and allows storage for the bikes, furniture and BBQ.


It is really important to get the lighting right in a small garden. I know electricians and lighting companies who are incredible sales people but far more suited to lighting football pitches than gardens. My top tip for lighting is be able to see but don’t be seen, this means warm ambient lighting around seating areas and uplighting and shadow lighting for architectural planting and sculptural elements of the garden using warm, welcoming lighting tones. Warm white as a general rule is a safe option. In this small garden design we have used adjustable spike spot lights to uplight the feature planting and adjustable wall spotlights to light the dining table and seating area.


To contrast with the dark colours in the design, a selection of silvery leaf colours were used and light flower colours, white of Allium and Erigerion karvinskianus and zesty lime green and creams of Alchemilla mollis and Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’. Perhaps the most striking effect is the contrast between the boundary fence lines and the containers planted with Astelia ‘Silver Spear’.