The Lawn Garden – 2. The Design Process

Continued from The Lawn Garden – 1. History and Planning

I knew there was much more that could be achieved. So I started a long design process that begun with looking over hundreds of gardens online. We placed planks and string all over the place to help visualise possibilities, and regularly had heated debates over the virtues or otherwise of one idea or another.

A key goal for me was ensuring we had dry access linking all parts of the garden in a way that felt natural to walk through, without making you have to take unnecessary detours. The trouble was there were so many directions to walk: Leaving the back of the house from one of the two doorways one might be heading for the greenhouse, the workshop, the vegetable garden, the cabin or round the corner and down the side of the house.

There are actually nine extrances/exits to accommodate! Two from the extension, a gate to the side of the house, the greenhouse has a door at each end, the workshop has three doors (one on each side), and the cabin. Plus there is the central path through the vegetable garden. A dozen crisscrossing paths

There was a lot of head scratching. A lot of rejected drawings.

Here are some of the gardens that stood out for me as possessing the stylistic qualities I wanted to achieve. These are mainly gardens from top Chelsea Designers. When you are looking for inspiration don’t mess around – go for the top. Analyse their designs. Look at what they achieve. Notice, for instance that the gardens below rely on form (lawn, walls, evergreens) far more than flowers:

The del Buono Gazerwitz gardens gave me the idea to create a formal lawn with paths down each side which would give us the access we needed to the various parts of the garden and could align with the central path of the vegetable garden. Terminating the lawn with a clean rectangular hedge would separate off the vegetable garden.

The first del Buono Gazerwitz garden had clipped box planting in narrow beds either side, and I could picture something similar in front of the greenhouse and workshop. The neat evergreen look would give us a calm architectural feel that would suit the clean modern lines of our new extension.

Another challenge was getting the mix of traditional and modern right. This is something we have pulled off successfully inside our house, but it is not easy. The temptation is to go all-out modern or authentically traditional. I think we have got the balance right. For example, our greenhouse has modern window widths and grey aluminium capping but by making it semi-lean-to and painting it white it gives a strong nod to the great Edwardian greenhouses of places like West Dean.

The lawn-garden would need to achieve a similar feat.

The final design came together slowly and with many abortive attempts, but once it was right I knew it was right. Everything made sense and there were no compromises:

What makes this design so successful (in my opinion) is the clear brick frame to the lawn that is linked to several small areas of grey paving. This gives a rhythm and structure to the design whilst providing for multiple routes between the house, greenhouse, workshop, cabin, vegetable garden and side passage.

The change in surface materials means that complex route-lines through the garden are achieved whilst maintaining a sense of order in the design. Here is a whole-garden view of the finished result:

Next up: The Lawn Garden – 3. The Design Rational