A family garden design with a Nordic bent in Harpenden

 Garden before construction



This strangely shaped garden had some curious hard landscaping and a multitude of different levels. Over time the planting had outgrown its space. Bamboos and conifers had taken over and Gilly’s clients felt the garden wasn’t child friendly. They wanted a cool, contemporary space with a Nordic crispness that the three small children could enjoy as much as the adults.


Client wish list included:

*  sorting out the levels

*  a gymnasium

*  space for lots of people to eat

*  a separate area for lounging

*  as much lawn as possible for football

*  a level area for a children’s play gym

*  beautiful planting - year round

*  a Silver birch tree

*  privacy


Gilly’s design solved the level differences and provided a flat lawn for the children’s games. The Millboard deck immediately outside the house provided a large, stylish area for dining and a flat surface for the children to scoot up and down on.


On one side of the garden gloomy old shrubs and conifer hedging were invaded by bamboo. Removing this revealed a much larger space. An old gazebo which was never used as it was damp and dingy had to go. Into this awkward apex of the triangular plot, Gilly tucked the Cedar gym building.


Crisp, smooth sandstone slabs were used to create wide elegant steps up to a paved area where the adults could sit in comfort whilst the children played. The paving of warm buff sandstone was selected to complement the Cedar used for slat fencing and to clad the Gym building.


A row of pleached Carpinus betulus trees planted in front of the fencing provides privacy from neighbours.

To avoid the ubiquitous muddy patches beneath swings and slides, the children’s play gym has artificial grass beneath it. The difference between the synthetic grass and the natural lawn is imperceptible. The structure is softened from view with a strip of tall Miscanthus grasses and flaming Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’.

Gilly’s planting palette includes family favourites and was chosen to give interest throughout the year.


"Gilly was very dedicated to our project and paid close attention to the brief. She has completely transformed our garden and we love the new space she has created.”

F & S B - Harpenden

photography © alex pikal

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t: 07790 614 788

photography © alex pikal

all rights reserved