Garden design

I’ve come to realise that garden design is incredibly difficult! Unlike interior design where I find it easy to visualise the end result and how to get to that point, I could not for the life of me figure out what we should do with the space that we have let alone how to get there. I know in vague terms what type of gardens I like as well as the type of planting, materials and colours. However, translating that to a real garden is very difficult!

In an ideal world we would commission a garden designer as I think that’s a very worthwhile investment and can potentially save money in the long run but it just very simply isn’t within our budget. We also don’t have the money to fill the garden with plants immediately; it’s going to be an ongoing project for years and hopefully a very satisfying one.

Instead, I have turned to some really great inspiration from Houzz, which is a really useful resource for both interior and garden design ideas. I got it into my head that an oval lawn would be a good idea as our garden is rectangular and the idea of a rectangular strip of lawn with two beds running up the sides does not appeal to me at all. Therefore, I typed ‘oval lawn’ into the search box and I found two really lovely examples of rectangular gardens that have been transformed using this shape. Our garden is quite a bit smaller than these examples and with our new deck there is no where near as much lawn as there was but using images like these is all about identifying what you like and making it work with the space that you have.

I really love the way the oval lawn gives this rectangular ‘London Country Garden’ a whole new shape and the beautiful natural planting is gorgeous. Perfectly manicured gardens with lots of structured planting and built in planters is not my bag so I will definitely aspire to create something more similar to this. I think it’s really clever the way the shape of the lawn leads your eye around the space and then off into the distance and instead of making it look smaller, which would be the assumption when making a lawn smaller, it actually creates so much more interest that the space feels and looks larger.

This next London garden is much more similar to our space in terms of length and narrowness. The double oval is a such a brilliant way of softening the edges of the rectangular garden and introducing lots of beautiful planting. I think this is a really good example of making a very basic space a real beauty without the expense of things like swanky new fencing but real attention on planting that can be done over years to come.

Yesterday I started the process of creating beds on the right hand side of the garden (the left can’t be done yet as the turf was only laid a week ago). I want to try to create the figure eight lawn of the above garden, which will hopefully soften the rectangular shape of the garden and detract attention away from the ugly stark fencing. I want to plant as much as possible over time to cover all of those horrid gravel boards and add as much height and texture to the beds of the garden as possible. We really do want to keep as much lawn as possible, especially whilst Mimi is so young as she loves the space so I hope this design will strike a good balance.

So this is where we started eight weeks ago.
This is where we’d got to a couple of weeks ago when we found out the deck boards were delayed so we got the house painted in the mean time.
Last week we laid some turf over the patch where the concrete had been. In an ideal world we would have re-turfed the whole garden but we just couldn’t make the garden a no-go zone for up to four weeks whilst the turf beds in. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that at some other point when not in lockdown. I’m focusing on the right hand side of the garden for now whilst the patch of turf takes root so I laid out some bits of wood to roughly mark out the beds I want to create..
My wood markers helped a lot actually!
A lot of digging later…
I’m really pleased with the shape it’s already given the garden just digging those beds on the right side! Mimi says it looks like a heart and Jules says I’ve made a bum in the garden so they’re both pleased… (sorry about the terrible photos but the scaffolding for the house painting is still up).

What do you think? I’ve ordered some evergreens that we can put in this year, as well as a few perennials for some colour over the summer. We’ll patch up the lawn as best we can with grass seed and we’ve decided to lay stone under the pergola but we won’t do that now as the last eight weeks under lockdown with all this upheaval has been a bit trying at times and we’d quite like some time to just sit and enjoy the garden for a while once the deck is finished.

Katy x



  1. jenny
    18th May 2020 / 9:04 am

    How exciting – the changes you’ve made to the house and garden over this stressful time are really inspiring. For a quick hit of colour this summer its not to late to sow some annuals from seed which is really cheap and satisfying method of filling borders 🙂

    • Kate Gomez
      18th May 2020 / 12:21 pm

      Love it! Such a good idea creating an oval lawn it really does elongate the yard and it will look great when you have some plants in 😊

      • katy
        19th May 2020 / 7:32 am

        It really does make a difference, doesn’t it? I’m really pleased with it so far x

    • katy
      19th May 2020 / 7:31 am

      Yes! Great idea – got some on order. Thank you xx

  2. 19th May 2020 / 7:48 am

    Very exciting to see your garden project! I’m not far from you and went through the same process only a couple of years ago so it’s really fun to see. I love the idea of the eight figure lawn. I’ve come to the same conclusion myself about square lawns – so have just acquired a second wavy bed in my garden (there was a lot less thinking in my case, I just went for it! Whoops).

    I think the only thing I would say is to consider making the beds a bit bigger. You want to have enough space to be able to layer shrubs and perennials properly, and give it that really nice, full look. One of my beds started out at only 60-70cm wide, and it was a huge mistake – it’s now been massively widened. I still have lots of lawn but now also have proper space for planting. Plus I think it’s even more important in a small garden – because you want to give it scale. Does that make sense?

    Anyhoo, good luck with gardening! As I’m local very happy to give tips about local nurseries etc. if you need any. 🙂

    • Caroline
      23rd May 2020 / 11:01 pm

      I think this too! Lovely shape and very good progress – digging out beds is hard work. Perhaps leave a bit more room for planting though…even if you don’t want to have a layered herbaceous border, the shape will lose integrity as the evergreens and shrubs you put in grow bigger. Less lawn to seed and try to make happy too?

  3. Southern gal
    25th May 2020 / 3:14 am

    Agree with another note. I would make those beds twice as big as you have. You will have plenty of grass don’t worry. But you will ever regret not having deeper beds.

    So exciting for you.

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