This dilapidated garden has been transformed into a social sanctuary

Revamping their garden was on the owners’ to-do list when they bought their Victorian London home in 2018, but it became a priority during the first lockdown in 2020 when they had nowhere to go relax outside.

Living with their young son and their Cockapoo dog, they wanted to create a space full of garden ideas to relax, with new plantings and lighting. Find out how they transformed their 98m² plot for £65,000.


A poorly maintained garden with an uneven lawn and a gray outdoor table at the back of the garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

A lack of green fingers meant the garden was poorly maintained with an uneven lawn and broken paving in the center and rear of the yard. “The garden was a jungle of overgrown plants and broken cobblestones, so we couldn’t use it,” says the owner.

The couple previously had a garden they had tried to design themselves, but their lack of plant knowledge meant it was never quite what they had hoped for. “As we plan to be here for many years, we decided to invest in the garden and have a landscaper help us create a beautiful outdoor space to complement the house,” they add.


Outdoor sofa with small outdoor coffee table, with terracotta planter and decorative lanterns containing white wax candles in the back garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom Aubyn Photography)

They enlisted the help of a designer Joanna Archer who they felt best understood their style and needs. “We asked Joanna for a plan that would provide space for outdoor dining and a barbecue, as well as a space where we could relax and where our son and dog could play. We also wanted a timeless design that would be sympathetic to the period of the house,” the owners explain.

The solution was to first replace the old broken fence with brick walls to complement the warm tones of the building. The garden faces south-east and Joanna suggested creating a sunny terrace with a sofa and chairs near the house and the dining area in a cooler spot at the end of the garden, in the shade of the wall and the trees. neighboring trees.

Terracotta water feature with gray pebbles at the base and white hydrangea flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

“The only problem was that we would be forgotten there, so we opted for a simple screen decorated with a star jasmine,” explains the owner. The frame hides the dining room from view of neighboring windows while fragrant the garden when the summer flowers open.

A bespoke mirror-backed shelf adds a sparkling focal point, as well as the perfect space for pots of BBQ herbs. “We love the planting Joanna chose, which is mostly white and green with splashes of more vibrant colors,” the owner explains.

Star Jasmine and Lavender located next to the dining room in the back garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

“Spring begins with daffodils and tulips, followed in May by white alliums. The trees also provide color throughout the year. I love Amelanchier, which has white spring flowers, summer berries and fiery autumn leaves, but my favorite plant is Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, with its huge white pom-pom flowers.’

The owners love their new garden which has met all their expectations and more. “On summer evenings we love to soak up the last rays of sunshine on the small patio in the center of the garden and enjoy the plants and the sound of the bubbling water – there’s no better place to relax”, they say.

bubbling water feature idea just needs to top up occasionally in summer.

Outdoor dining area

Outdoor dining area in the garden with dining set, brass colored lanterns with large white wax candles, planter stand, Critall style mirrored outdoor shelf and brick wall decor

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom Aubyn Photography)

“We love the dining room furniture, which is modern but also suits our period home, and it can sit outside all year round.” says the owner

Have the look: Rosemary Ribambelle extendable table, £2,790 (opens in a new tab), Cadiz stacking chairs in rosemary and cactus, from £285 each (opens in a new tab)all Fermob

Copy the look with flowers and foliage

Cream-colored garden furniture with decorative cream-colored outdoor cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

“My favorite plants are the tall white ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas that I can admire from the patio.” says the owner

Garden of white alliums with matching foliage in the back garden with brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

The seed heads of flowering white alliums may extend interest well into summer.

Standard potted laurels (Laurus nobilis) add drama and provide privacy on the sunny patio next to the house.

Potted standard laurel (Laurus nobilis) in the back garden against the brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

Focus on: garden lighting

Garden Lighting Ideas are a great way to extend the time you spend in your outdoor space, even in winter.

  • Design: Zoe Duff Gordon (opens in a new tab) designed the garden lighting and recommends lighting small trees with narrow beams to create drama. Wide beam fixtures create subtle ambient light in borders, while downlights set high on the walls provide more directed light on a patio or dining area. Steps and light paths also allow safe access at night.
  • Lighting Options: LEDs are the best options for gardens – look for an IP rating of 65 or higher which ensures they are waterproof. Solar powered lights only produce a soft glow and you need to install the solar panel in direct sunlight to charge it. Warm white lights provide the most natural effect in a garden.
  • Facility: Use a qualified and experienced electrician to install outdoor light fixtures. Zoe suggests that a few circuits will allow maximum flexibility and longer wiring for the stakes so they can be moved around to highlight seasonal planting.

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