The Lawn Garden – 1. History & Planning

The red dotted line shows how far our new extension would go

The original garden had a large patio of cheap cement slabs unimaginatively running across the entire back of the house.

In the above photo (Sep 2013) you can see the slabs are being lifted. We shifted them all in a couple of weeks via Freecycle. To my amazement there were no end of people willing to come and take them away for free! In fact the old white sheds went the same way with one guy spending two days dismantling and carting off the larger one single-handedly. They were happy, we were happy – a win win situation!

Over the next six months we had the extension built. (I’ll do a page on the extension another time). Here it is a couple of month’s after completion, looking back across the undeveloped garden:

As you can see it was a bit of a wasteland. We had to step out of our nice new extension onto rubble strewn mud. The grass was an uneven, ankle-twisting mess of weeds which was a pain to mow.

The challenge was now to design a garden that would connect all of the existing garden spaces and buildings in a single coherent whole that would bring years of work to fruition.

Here is an overview of what we had to work with


It was tempting to put a new patio or decking straight across the back of the property, like so many people do.

A common treatment of folding sliding doors is to place a patio or deck at floor level straight outside. Is this really the best we can do?

One of the appeals of this arrangement is that the outside deck creates a seamless continuity with the interior. But this has several potential drawbacks. In our case the extension faced North East, so any sitting area would be in cold shade for much of the year. Also, patio or decking pushes the garden further away.

We realised that 90% of the year, the doors would be closed, and we would be indoors, looking out. Did we really want to be staring out at a boring expanse of paving or decking? Wouldn’t it be better to bring the planting right up to the house, so that we could see the plants, visually bringing the outside into the house. This is what we decided to do…

Next up: The Lawn Garden – 2. The Design Process