Cobham Garden

Our clients had bought a large, newly built house within a tricky shaped plot of land (one third of an acre), with a good deal of space to the front (400 sq m) and a triangular-shaped rear garden (650 sq m). The rear had a ‘developer’s finish’ of lawn and dull planting beds, a mature Magnolia tree and a row of Cupressus leylandii at the end. There was very little screening on the right boundary, and the front had unattractive Prunus hedging.

Along the back of the house was an over-large patio and there was an unattractive summerhouse in the apex of the triangle underlining the unusual shape of the garden. The house faces West so the evening sun is captured only in the front and at the end of the rear.

The brief was to create a garden to fit all the family’s needs – an arbour/secondary seating area, a terrace, a dining and BBQ area, a large lawn and trampoline. Unusually, they also wanted a sound-proof ‘drum room’, as well as a water feature and privacy on all sides.

For drum room we designed a discreet grey timber building with tall narrow windows and a green roof and put it on the left hand side of the garden. We placed the trampoline next to it and created good-sized planting beds around it. We replaced virtually all the boundary planting with layered hedging of beech and Taxus. We planted four mature trees including two Cercidiphyllum japonicum and a Parrotia persica on the boundary to screen further. Finally, there are ornamental pears along one side and an avenue of flat-topped London Plane trees along the gravel path to the drum room, taking the eye down to an urn on a pedestal.

To maximise the wedge shape of the garden, we created a rectangular central lawn with, beyond, a seating area with an arbour, water feature and a fireplace centrally placed, and a dining area and built-in BBQ to the right. Both areas were divided by extensive planting.

We designed a new terrace paved in English limestone immediately off the house, with the main sitting area and a gravel bed punctuated with low Mediterranean planting.

In the front garden we replaced the existing paving with stabilised gravel and York stone setts to allow more cars to be parked, and transformed the area to the front of the garage into a modern parterre with low Taxus hedging, Carex muskingumensis and two multi-stem Carpinus Betulus.

Throughout the garden subtle garden lighting accentuates the form of the trees and highlights particular aspects of the garden. The lawn is ‘moonlit’ from the Magnolia tree and large lanterns provide ambient lighting for the dining area.

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