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  • Writer's pictureSarah Kay

How to create an E8 Urban Sanctuary garden in the city?

This week I've been working on a design for a small East London, north-facing garden. My client has recently remodelled the Victorian terrace to include a modern kitchen extension with bi fold doors looking out onto her garden and wanted to create a wildlife friendly oasis within it's urban environment.

The existing garden has two main issues; a large overbearing Bay tree which is much too large for this garden and levels which don't allow for a practical or usable space to sit or entertain.

Existing garden with domineering Bay tree and Bamboo

Existing garden with impractical level change

My first recommendation is to remove the Bay tree and invasive Phyllostachys bamboo, both of which are too large and give an oppressive feel to the garden.

I would also recommend levelling the garden to the height of the door threshold whilst ensuring that the damp proof course is not breached with good drainage. This allows for a angled design layout which balances a usable seating area and larger triangular planting beds which create a feeling of privacy and seclusion.

The tall brick wall at the back of the garden will be softened with a Parthenicissus tricuspidata (Boston Ivy) which provides exquisite Autumn colour and wildlife habitat and is a nod to my client's American heritage. A large curve topped mirror will give the illusion of space and a Betula utilis Jacquemontii will provide height and graceful all-year-round interest in the far right corner.

The fencing will be improved using horizontal battens and will be clothed in fragrant climbers and a practical compost bin will be hidden behind a corten steel privacy screen. Light sandstone paving creates an enclosed seating space for a bench, small table and occasional seating with a stone bird bath sited behind the bench to encourage wildlife in.

Practical storage will be provide by a tall shed to the side of the door with an ingenious water butt/planter helping to ensure this garden follows sustainability principles. Corten steel style bowl planters provide a visual link to the Corten screen behind.

Planting will be primarily aimed at attracting pollinators and other wildlife into the garden, whilst providing striking foliage colour and fragrance throughout the year.

Here's a walk through animation showing the flow and detail of the garden from various view points.


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