Inside the Mind of a Garden Design – Suburban Gardens

Suburban Gardens; make yours stand out from the crowd

image: constructionphotography.com

Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most common forms is the suburban garden. Streets and roads lines with similar looking houses with a front garden and a rectangular garden at the back.

The world of suburbia can be lovely, but it can also be uniform, regimented devoid of personality and a bit dull!

The suburban garden is the one area it’s owner can stamp their own personality.

The hard part is creating a garden that is different enough from the neighbours without making the garden impractical to use.

What is wrong with a suburban garden?

Well hopefully the answer to that question is – not much, but as I am a cup half full kind of person, my question would be what is right with the garden! And that can open a whole can of worms!

Take this garden for example;

What is right with this suburban garden?

On the plus side, it has a wonderfully open sunny aspect and lots of sky giving the feeling of space. The neighbours tress are attractive and not too tall as to take all the light from the garden. And lastly it has potential!

suburban garden with shed with red lines showing what the layout highlights

On the down side, the layout of this garden only emphasised the narrow shape and highlighted the shed; which was why this client wanted a new design for the garden!

In the podcast associated with this post, I explain that the client used the shed as a bike store so easy access was vital as they all cycled to work everyday.

Hiding this shed or creating a path to it that would be awkward to wheel a bike down would be impractical. The shed and path are the most used parts of this garden. The challenge was to ensure the garden became a beautiful place to be in as well!

Small Gardens have to be practical!suburban garden new design layout using asymmetric borders and offsetting the patio and path angles

All gardens have well used routes, the path you naturally take to get from one part of the garden to another, so the new layout has to fit with this natural route or the it will annoy the user! You would not want to ‘meander slowly on a journey through a garden’ to get the bike to the shed. No, you just want to be able to get the bike and put it away again without any hassle. So in this garden the path has to lead to the shed – without any fuss!


view-to-house2But that does not means the design has to be boring.

Another important question to be discussed is whether to have a lawn or not. Suburban gardens by their very nature are generally smaller, so the space for grass is also smaller. Add to that the shade cast by buildings and fences, the available but usable space for growing a lush green lawn is actually almost non-existent. You need to reassess how much time you would spend sitting and using the lawn – and it probably isn’t much time at all. In fact the most time spent on many suburban lawns is the time spent mowing them!

Styling the Planting

Once the bones of the garden have been laid out, the choice of planting comes next; which is always the nicest and most exciting part. In this particular suburban garden, the planting needs to contrast with the surroundings, not in terms of colour but in terms of what it does. Creating a contrast makes you notice things more. In this instance the contrast is movement.

This is useful for two reasons, the shed will always be a dominant feature in this garden, as will the path to it – which makes them very noticeable. However we can’t hide them away as access is needed, using a contrast will help these features become less noticeable because something else is more noticeable. Consequently we used taller vertical plants that dance in the breeze that capture your attention. The shed is painted in a complimentary colour to the overall colour theme, but then we use contrasting flower colour to again draw your attention to the plants and away from the shed.

A simple solution to transform any suburban garden from ‘just like the rest’ to ‘drop dead gorgeous’!

suburban garden redesigned with grey paving and asymmetric borders

The shed now feels part of the design

suburban garden

A garden that will look fabulous in Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter

Now clearly we could write a book on garden design that will help you plan even the narrowest of gardens better – which is brilliant because there IS a book to help you

I Want to Like my Garden by Rachel McCartain available at Amazon and other online bookstores in eBook and Paperback

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