Before & After

Transforming a narrow lawn into a small outdoor room with a view


In small gardens, it is crucial to make efficient use of the available space and still allow for the right degree of separation between areas with different purposes.


Transforming a narrow lawn into a small outdoor room with a view


The brief was to develop the area in the photograph into something more attractive and suitable for one person to enjoy the sun. It currently serves no particular purpose except for providing access from the front to the back of the house.

The clothesline will be moved so that it is no longer visible from the dining and living rooms.

Any space that is to be used for outdoor seating must be static in character - it should be enclosed, serve no dual purpose, and have no circulation routes through it.

The area in the photograph is currently dynamic rather than static; it is clearly meant for movement as opposed to sitting down.



Transforming a narrow lawn into a small outdoor room with a view


A trellis or screen from the house to the fence gives part of this area a more static feel. The paved area is surrounded by a wall of some sort on three sides; the fence, trellis, and the house wall.

If the space is to be filled with a table and a couple of chairs, then a door in the trellis is appropriate to make the separation between the front and the back complete. For one person however, the paved area on the left is sufficiently static. The path runs past it rather than through it and adds an extra dimension to the garden with a vista to a small weeping tree.

A narrow planting strip along the bottom of the fence is mirrored on the other side to more clearly define the shape of the lawn. The fence itself is softened by espaliered plants. The latter are trained in a two-dimensional plane against a frame of wires. In the drawing the frame consists of horizontal wires, but different patterns can be used. Almost any woody plant is suitable for this practice, including fruit trees, Pyracantha (Firethorn), camellias, and Trachelospermum jasminoides (Chinese star jasmine).