Garden Tour: A Sociable and Stylish Family Retreat
Bold structures, tactile planting and plenty of casual seating breathe new life into a tired and unloved plot
Consisting of a central, rather tired lawn flanked by narrow borders, the main feature was a less-than-lovely and rather underused climbing frame. A few mature trees in neighbouring gardens added greenery and height to the outlook, but the only plants of note in the garden were a few sparse shrubs. Unsure of where to start with the project, they called in landscape design company Pehrsson Scott.
Who lives here Paul and Tracey Richards and their three children
Location St Albans, Hertfordshire
Property A four-bedroom detached house
Garden dimensions 30m long x 12m wide
Project duration Three months
Designer Henry Scott of Pehrsson Scott
“It was very clear that the garden no longer served the family’s needs,” company director Henry Scott says. “The only space to sit and relax in the decent-sized plot was right by the house, in the shade, while the sunny area at the end of the garden was totally underused.”
Creating a visual link and flow from the front of the garden to the back was also key, so the team sat down and drew up a plan.
“Paul and Tracey’s initial thoughts were to construct a large garden studio at the very end of the plot,” Henry says, “but it quickly became clear this would be a costly option. Instead, we went for a slightly raised deck area, which we covered with a timber pergola to provide privacy.”
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Nursery plant prices shot up as well, so every item on the detailed planting list had to be carefully reviewed. Smart choices, such as opting for younger trees and smaller plants rather than the larger, more mature specimens that were originally planned, helped to keep costs down without compromising the overall design.
The resulting deck is spacious, bathed in sun for much of the day, and roomy enough for an alfresco lounge area with modular L-shaped sofa and Acapulco-style chairs. A couple of loungers sit to the left side, from where the family can enjoy views back down the garden towards the house.
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The team at Pehrsson Scott came up with a bespoke timber pergola with a chic and contemporary lattice detail. “We opted for western red cedar for its ability to cope well with the elements and also for its beautiful rust tones,” Henry says.
“We laid a data cable down the length of the garden to the deck to provide a reliable wi-fi connection – something Paul has particularly enjoyed while working from home,” Henry says.
Gas firepit, Solus Decor.
Irish Barley Quartzite was chosen for its pale cream tones with flecks of brown, which tie in beautifully with the timber arches and pergola.
“We used western red cedar for the arches to tie in with the pergola and create a cohesive feel,” Henry says. But the choice of material did impact the labour costs and slightly delay progress.
“As a strong but porous softwood, it was important not to place it directly on the ground, which would cause it to soak up moisture and rot,” Henry explains. “Instead, we had to have stainless-steel ‘shoes’ made for each upright and bed them in concrete. This proved rather time-consuming, but it was essential if the timbers were to last in the changeable UK climate.”
Planters, The Pot Company.
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