A low-maintenance gravel garden with simple lines for the front of an angular 1950s brick house located at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Generous planting softens boundaries, increases kerb appeal, and turns a space that was once a mere access route into one where the owners and their visitors might linger.
The design follows a diagonal grid turning the unusual shape of the site into playful geometry and creates a separate entrance for pedestrians.
Elongated lines marked by brick courses stretch out the space, inviting visitors towards the house, while also dividing the garden into distinct areas and beckoning users to take their time on the way to the front door.
Draft designs where the underlying grid was set at 90 degrees with the house created awkward angles with no satisfactory access for either car or people.
An alternative to the proposed design involved keeping the current shared access to the garden, with two pocket gardens on the left, the first a small rock garden, and the second with a bench.
Sustainability has been built into the design from the start. Gravel is used in both the pedestrian and car-park area – the latter, with honeycomb panels as a base. This make the garden compliant with SUDS requirements (sustainable urban drainage systems), even though the regulations apply only to new builds.
Brick has been used as edging on the boundary line with the street, to help manage any gravel spread. Parallel brick courses within the garden fulfil the same function internally while also helping to separate the vehicular area from the pedestrian area.
A crab-apple and loosely grown native shrubs will also encourage wildlife, while drought-tolerant grasses and herbaceous perennials have been chosen to withstand drier seasons with little or no watering.
The parking area is a nod to Beth Chatto’s scree garden, with low-growing plants, such as creeping thyme and Corsican euphorbia, providing interest and requiring almost no maintenance.
20mm Oxford shingle
Honeycomb panels and underlay
Corten steel edging
Buff sawn sandstone steps (front door)
80cm trellis (south side), posts and caps.
Malus ‘Red Sentinel’
Pittosporum tobira ‘Nanum’
Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Golf Ball’
Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’
Sambucus nigra ‘Eva’
Astelia ‘Silver Shadow’
Cistus x purpureus
Cistus x purpureus ‘Alan Fradd’
Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’
Salvia nemorosa ‘Amethyst’
Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’
Santolina ‘Edward Bowles’
Santolina ‘Primrose Gem’
* All photographs are (c) Jean-Yves Gilg *