Project 1 : Complete

Project 1 : Complete

The final instalment on the transformation of mum’s courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.

I’ve now finished the regeneration of this shady dark corner of my mum’s courtyard garden.

The main issues we took on were;

  1. No-where to sit
  2. Dogs use the garden as a toilet
  3. Dark corner
  4. Limited planting
  5. Uneven, ugly, crazy-paving floor which was a safety issue as well as unsightly
  6. Level changes
  7. Access required through space

 

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
The white wall has brightened the space and sets off the green climbers

Previous updates;

Mum’s Courtyard Garden Redesign

Destruction Phase

Planting complete

How did we do?

The white walls really brighten and tidy the space. It now looks like a planned garden area as opposed to a leftover storage area. The seat was bought off amazon and softens the square boundaries.

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
The main corner seat and planted zinc bath

Taking a step back – you can see another layer of slate rocks was added to the steps to form a restraint for the new gravel. This achieved a few things. Firstly, the gravel leaves a simple uniform base to unclutter the space (this was especially needed after the single raised bed idea was thrown out in favour of vintage agricultural reclamation). It also meant that an area near the step that pools water is now raised to avoid it getting slippy and means one level here rather than 3 smaller steps down.

Hard landscaping

The gravel is Blue Slate Chippings (sourced from a local company who delivered it very quickly) and it’s perfect. There were companies offering it cheaper than what we paid (£170 for 850kg bulk bag delivered inc VAT) but we liked the idea of supporting a local business and that we’d be able to pop down the road to get a few more matching bags if we ran out. 

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.

Taking a step back to see the new steps retaining the gravelA wide shows you the change where the large storage structure was. This space is now much larger to the eye. It also gives a home to the tree fern. From here you can see the two trees which shall grow above the fence line on clear stems. This will free up space for planting below and allow the canopies to block the view over neighbouring homes.

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
A wider view showing the Tree Fern and the wider profile after removing the structure

The unusual shapes of the grain hopper and zinc bath add interest but also perform a practical role of lifting plants up and away from the dogs’ attentions. The plants in the main beds have been chosen to be more resistant to dog urine with thicker leaves (ferns, euphorbia, etc).

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
This beautiful hosta lives in the grain hopper and brightens this shady wall

 How this space links with the rest of the garden

The main sight-line from the courtyard and the bench runs to the greenhouse. That area wasn’t originally due to be redone at this time but we had a lot of gravel left over so decided to go with it. The gravel here makes the path look wider and forms a link between the two areas. When we replant the border on the right the plan is to include some plants that will feature in both areas to achieve the same unity.

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
The view back to the greenhouse with the gravel linking the areas

You can see below the way the layout of the garden is in two parts. There is the main terrace outside the patio doors, where the seating area has been created, and a lower area, with greenhouse, shed, pond, and a small herbaceous border. By continuing the gravel all the way to the shed we clearly delineate two separate areas and reduce the number of surfaces to just two instead of three.

The final instalment on the transformation of mum's courtyard garden from grey, dingy, unloved space into a light, floriferous, quiet space for relaxation.
This view is perpendicular to the one above and shows the level change within the garden

In Summary

I’m really pleased with how things have turned out and I’m pleased that my mum loves her new sitting area. It was interesting negotiating design changes with the garden’s owner – I didn’t get my way on the raised beds but I still like the finished product – and it’s nice to see the finished product for all the effort put in.

Project 1 : Planting complete

Project 1: Planting Complete

After a few changes of direction and some very heavy lifting, the bulk of the work is done

It’s been a busy week working on the courtyard garden. At this stage, the majority of the planting is in place. Nearly two days of negotiation was needed to make sure everything is in the correct place. We’ve veered away from some of the original plans as more inspiration was given by a local nursery stocking some zinc planters. The raised beds were researched, and researched, and eventually discarded. Not until we’d gone through sleepers, breeze block and mortar, and dry stone walling did we throw it aside for what you see now.

Previous updates;

Mum’s Courtyard Garden Redesign

Destruction Phase

Jobs completed

  • Walls painted – again
  • Planters purchased
  • Planters filled
  • All planters planted up
  • Border deepened and edged.
  • Climbers tidied

Plant Lists

* repurposed from the original garden

Boat / Bath Planter

Project 1: Planting Complete
Boat Planter and the Border Behind

Sorbus aria Lutescens – White Beam

Choisya ternata

Exochorda x macrantha ‘The Bride’

Helleborus hybridus

Digitalis purpurea*

Border behind Boat / Bath Planter

Clematis x cartmanii ‘Joe’

Bay Tree

Under and behind the seat

Project 1: Planting Complete
The corner seat around the apple tree

Digitalis purpurea*

Apple Tree* – Likely a Bramley but we’re unsure as it was here when the house was bought.

Griselinia littoralis variegata

Hosta

Ferns

Cyclamen*

Grain Hopper Planter

Project 1: Planting Complete
Grain Hopper Planter

Hydrangea seemanii – climbing hydrangea

Prunus avium Plena

Hosta ‘Paul Revere’

Viola tricolor

Circular planter

Project 1: Planting Complete
Dicksonia antarctica in a circular bucket planter

Dicksonia antarctica – Purchased nearly 20 years ago from Trebah Garden in Cornwall. This poor specimen has been dragged from house to house and we’re hoping it’ll pick up in this new home. It’s been thoroughly watered.

Concrete planter

Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Variegatus’

Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Solomon’s seal’*

Digitalis purpurea*

Railings

Holboellia coriacea – likely to be too brutish for the main courtyard garden but it can be seen below on the railings that go around the main terrace.

Project 1: Planting Complete
The garden waiting for gravel

Jobs to be done

  • Lay gravel when it arrives
  • Glass of wine

 

Project 1: Destruction phase

Update on the destruction phase of works

We’ve made a start on the redesign and build of the courtyard garden.

Project 1: Mum’s Courtyard Garden Redesign

So far this week we’ve been to two builder and timber merchants to look at the options for the raised beds and two nurseries for inspiration on the planting.

Jobs Completed: paint the wall

There’s not much we can do will the stark breezeblock wall at the moment other than paint it to hide the dull grey colour. Now it’s white and this will bounce light around the space. The long-term plan is that the evergreen climbers will make a home of the wire supports and will cover most of this boundary.

Project 1: Destruction phase
The walls have been painted and the borders cleared

Jobs Complete: Destroy the cupboard

This unnecessary element of the original garden had to change. There is a huge shed in the garden so storage is not a priority. It will probably be made into a raised bed but it’s unclear if we’re leaving the low run of bricks to do this or whether I need to remove more.

Other options are a seat (rejected as that area gets almost no sun) and a pond. We’ll see. Already the space appears wider.

Project 1: Destruction phase
The cupboard has been knocked down.

Jobs in progress: Plant Purchases

We have made a start on selecting some new planting for the raised beds for when they’re complete. We have a mixture of shade-loving and partial-shade-loving herbaceous perennials and shrubs. In the meantime, they’re being displayed in another part of the garden and they’re looking good.

Project 1: Destruction phase
The plants ready to go in the new beds are on display

Next steps:

We need to finalise the design of the raised beds before we can move forward. A change to the plan comes in the form of a tree seat for the corner and we’ll need that assembled to know how much space is left for the beds.

Here’s the bench:

Project 1: Mum’s Courtyard Garden Redesign

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard

A year of change and time for a Courtyard Garden Redesign

Background

She moved into her bungalow a year ago and now that we’ve seen a few changes of season it’s time to roll up the sleeves and start improving things.

At the moment the space has narrow borders next to some awfully dated crazy paving. The walls are exposed breeze blocks. There is a lovels mix of clematis and roses climbing valiantly to disguise the wall and a good cooking apple.

Wishlist

The first thing we had to assess was what does mum want from this space. It’s tucked around behind the house, not visible from the main living room, and could just become a bland walkway if we let it. She would like it to be a space to sit as it does get some evening light. She loves whites and greens so we’re taking that for our planting inspiration. A small waterfeature to link with the small pond that sits at the bottom of the stairs would be nice.

Inspiration

We’ve gathered together some images as source inspiration to help explain what the plan is. This was there’ll be no surprises for mum when I reveal the finished project.

Challenges

Every garden and site have their own challenges and ours is no different.

Space: This is only a small corner of a modestly sized back garden and so we’re not going to be able to create rolling hills or expansive vistas. However, we can make the most of it. It’s currently the weakest part of the garden.

Shade: Not always a negative but it does impact on planting choices and we’re going to have to work hard that this space doesn’t feel too dark.

Levels: The garden already has too many levels and we’re hoping to rationalise some of these level changes.

Budget: The budget is small – luckily it’s only a small space and a lot of the plants have already been purchased.

Walkway: The first corner is the main route from the back door to the greenhouse and is only one of two ways to reach the lower level. There is also a small doorway in the top right corner that accesses the side of the house and the strawberry planters. This means that I have to be mindful of how people pass through the space.

BEFORE

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
First view of the courtyard from the top terrace

The white box on the right is a useless and ugly storage cupboard. The black railings are new for safety.

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
Planting along the side wall.

Terrible crazy paving but some nice climbers.

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
View of the courtyard. Redundant storage cupboard visible on the right

Grey walls and floor sap the light making it a dark space.

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
Looking back towards top terrace

This turn is the main route to the greenhouse seen in the top right. Notice the change of levels.

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
Looking back towards the greenhouse down 2 steps.

The planting on the lower level on the right is better with a wider bed.

Project 1: Mum's Courtyard
View of the courtyard from greenhouse

This is the vista we’re hoping to improve.