It’s been almost two months since the UK has been in lockdown, and as a family we are acclimatising to our new way of life. Aside from a quick walk once a day and a weekly supermarket shop, which either myself or my husband undertakes on our own (we want to save the online delivery slots for those in more need than us, and they are very hard to come by!), we have been entirely home-bound. With holidays, birthday parties and trips to Legoland cancelled, it feels strange not having anything to ‘look forward to’. However, we have had a really exciting project over the past few weeks that is helping us stay positive and feel excited – our garden makeover! With spring well underway, we wanted to get the garden landscaped so that we can spend the summer months enjoying our own backyard. In this month’s blog I’m going to share the progress so far, from design to material choices, and hopefully it might inspire you to think about how you can make the most of your outdoor space!
A common topic that always comes up when I’ve spoken to other new-build home owners is issues with their turf and drainage. While we are lucky that our garden is relatively flat considering the development is on a hill, the ground was bumpy, sloped slightly to one side, and the grass was patchy and swampy. We had been given a very small bit of paving, just two stones wide in most places and certainly not enough to put furniture on. We had contemplated taking some time off work (ironic given current circumstances!) to tackle it ourselves, however then realised the full scope of the job and decided it would be well worth having a professional do it all properly. Having spoken to numerous landscaping companies, we hired Cozy Gardens, a local Kent-based company who filled us with confidence in their expertise and design ideas.
The first step was some basic sketches to get an idea of what we wanted the space to look like. I knew I wanted a simple, modern design, with a large paved area, artificial grass and some areas of interest.
We decided on a design that featured well-thought out sections – a seated deck area, patio for outdoor dining, artificial grass to put the kid’s playhouse on and stepping stone feature. Cozy Gardens then created a ‘proper’ sketch and a VERY proper 3D design!
One decision to be made was the style and angle of the tiled pergola roof. There were a few different options and our key considerations were getting as much afternoon sun shining in as possible, as well as the entrance being high enough for my 6ft5 husband to safely clear when stepping up onto the decking! While it is just a roofed pergola, not a fully enclosed building, the roof can still only have a max eaves height of 2.5m. We therefore settled on a roof design that came off the garage wall and sloped downwards towards the back fence, leaving the opening facing the house as the highest point.
Paving is another key feature, where there are so many choices to be overwhelmed by! We looked at some Indian Sandstone samples, however I wanted a really smooth look and the cheaper tiles were the ones with a rougher texture. I had been interested in the benefits of porcelain paving, and while it is much more expensive than natural stone, we decided that it would last longer and give us the exact sleek, polished look we were after. The pricing of the porcelain we chose was actually competitive against higher-end stone and concrete, with the additional positives of being extremely hard-wearing, frost proof, low maintenance and very easy to clean, and fade resistant.
Now garden centres are reopening, it will be much easier to get plants to bring life to our garden. Our design featured a statement tree and we were agonising what type to go for, with many people recommending Silver Birch or Japanese Maple. However, I was set on having our own little tropical paradise in the Garden City, and research led me to this gorgeous Chusan Palm. They are one of the hardiest palms and grow relatively fast, without getting to large. I absolutely love what a wonderful focal point ours is, set in a square built-in planter with slate chips and highlighted by a single uplight.
Lighting was the final consideration, and one that I would have overlooked if not for the suggestion of Cozy Gardens. All our lighting is wired in under the paving and we had three outdoor power points placed around the garden. The lighting is placed in five different zones, which are all independently controlled via a remote control that transmits to a control box placed on the pergola beam. The result is spectacular, and we can’t wait for lockdown to be over so we can invite all our family and friends over for an evening BBQ!
I hope this post has given you some design ideas and tips for your own gardens, if you are looking to get it landscaped over the summer, or even just inspire you to find simple ways to refresh your outdoor space, with plants and a lick of paint! I’d love to see what you’ve done with your own Ebbsfleet Garden City gardens, however big or small, please tag me on Instagram at @lydias_layton_life in any photos you want to share!