Urban Garden Design UK – What’s working in the UK?

Urban Garden Design UK – What’s working in the UK?

Gardens in London are increasingly extensions of the living space outdoors. D.I.Y. decks and patios are now commonplace in suburban gardens together with the ubiquitous barbecue. Few of these gardens, however, are the restful oases of calm that they should be. The move to a more outdoors style of living and dining has not been universally accompanied by a sense of style. In some circles, however, there is a growing awareness that it is not enough to extend the house with a hardwood deck. It also needs landscaping.

There is a reaction among busy city workers against the high maintenance garden, with grass-mowing every Sunday, weeding and flower bed digging. Londoners are going for low maintenance outdoor spaces, designed primarily for entertaining in. At the same time it is recognised that to live and entertain out of doors, the surroundings need to be something more than an empty space and a view of the neighbours’ washing. This is increasingly leading, amongst those in the know, to a courtyard garden style.

Designers are using stone slabs, concrete paving or hardwood decks to give a maintenance free surface. A combination of wood and stone or slate can increase the feeling of space. Lush planting round the edges with tall bamboos, palms and grasses is quite possible in the London climate and not only helps to enclose the garden but lends an exotic atmosphere. The planting is minimal, but the plants themselves are generous in their proportions.

The use of a water pump to create a splashing fountain or rill adds to the feeling of remoteness from the city. Smooth pebbles with water flowing over them in a raised channel or around a fountain add to the relaxing and calming effect.

Contemporary outdoor furniture, in modern steel, glass, or hardwood, is chic and stylish as well as practical. Discreet lighting is now a normal part of the garden design. The bamboos and palms or other surrounding greenery are lit from below. Light plays on the water, often also with lighting from below through glass blocks.
 
These London gardens are a far cry from the high maintenance cottage garden style so beloved of English gardeners. These are gardens in which all the work is in the initial landscaping. Once done, there is a minimum of effort and a maximum reward.

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