Family garden in Surbiton

The rectangular garden is part of a semi-detached house, with existing patio, lawn and a very mature, protected Sequoia (Redwood) tree in the centre. The aspect of the garden is south-west facing. There were no major planting borders in the garden except a few smaller trees along the boundary and some raised timber beds. A modern garden studio was built at the end of the garden and forms a focal point from the house. 

The Redwood tree represented a major challenge to the design as it is located in the centre of the garden and any planting and hard landscaping had to be arranged with distance to the tree trunk. 

The clients wished for a family friendly space with seating areas to socialise with friends, a connection between house and garden room and colourful planting borders to attract wildlife and create biodiversity, creating a cottage garden feel.  They were after a solution to soften the appearance of the redwood tree and wanted a focal point from their new living space at the narrow side of the house. Some privacy at the back boundary was needed to block out views from neighbouring flats. 

To soften the static and enormous presence of the tree in this small back garden, the design focuses on a curvilinear layout of the brick paved terraces and gravel path with a meandering feel. The path leads from the house towards the back of the garden, with a soft sweep along the new planting border and lawn. 

Oak timber posts at different heights form a vertical sweep which surrounds a small seating area catching the morning sun. This can be seen from the new living room extension together with sweeping paving encircling new flower beds to soften the walls in the narrow side space. 

Raised oval shaped corten steel planters break the view towards the tree from the house and contain colourful perennial planting.

The planting focuses on a cottage garden feel, using a mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses. Evergreen pleached trees block view were privacy towards the neighbours is needed. 

A new series of play frames and raised platforms form the children’s play area in the garden are located around the tree to encourage imaginary play and give a sense of wonder and adventure for the children.