The urban garden
The smog, congestion and the intensity of city life can leave you yearning for your own outdoor sanctuary. Of course, with space coming at a premium, a balcony, terrace, patio or a patch of garden is a small luxury. It’s a compact area that often goes to waste; however, award-winning garden designer Kate Gould suggests some innovative ways to create your own piece of urban Eden.
Small space, big impression
“The best small spaces are those that are bold and strong,” says Gould. She adds, “In fact, super-sizing most things is a trick I often employ to avoid a scheme appearing bitty. Trying to achieve too much in a tiny area can result in a dilution of the overall effect. Pare down the design, assess the absolute minimum that you need and work from there.” This amounts to: “Large format hard landscaping on the ground, unified boundaries and pots, planters or water features and sculpture all in scale with the furniture and floor tiles,” explains the British designer.
Lighting is particularly important if you want to create a more relaxed mood for some al fresco entertaining. “Highlight architectural plants or a feature wall to create a focal point. Secondly, lighting trees produces dramatic effects particularly on species with interesting bark,” describes Gould. If you’re looking for something enchanting, “Look for interior lit planters which emit light and use candles to create a welcoming ambience for dinner parties and gatherings.”
Private and intimate
Finding privacy in the city can be nigh on impossible, so designing an outdoor cocoon can seem like an attractive idea. “One option would be to extend garden fences with trellises and plant light, canopy trees like birch to create natural screening points. Alternatively, a large parasol over a table can create a certain amount of intimacy,” suggests the expert.
One of the major problems with compact spaces is finding the room to store outdoor accessories, particularly if you’ve got children’s toys to keep out of sight. The solution: “Cube seating is ideal as the chairs will conveniently slot under the table when not in use. Built-in storage also works well. This generally consists of beach-style seat constructed into a wall with a wooden top that can be lifted to reveal a storage space inside,” says Gould.