An outdoor area for summer entertaining

Emma and Paddy Foyle used a professional garden designer to help turn their uninspiring garden into a dynamic outdoor space with zones for entertaining and relaxing.

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Emma and Paddy Foyle followed expert advice to turn their small yard into a garden with wow-factor, maximising space with separate zones.

Fact file

The owners: Emma Foyle, a housewife, and her husband Paddy, an account manager for an IT company, live here with daughters Daisy, 11, and Erin, eight

After 10 years of living in our terraced house, my husband Paddy and I realised we could make so much more of our outdoor space,’ explains Emma. With their two daughters, Daisy and Erin, past the age of playing with sandpits and swings, the Foyles decided to go for a radical change and made a big decision that would revolutionise their enjoyment of their home and garden.

A passionate gardener for many years, Emma also grows vegetables on the family’s allotment next to their home, so she didn’t feel the garden needed to include lots of areas of planting or provide space for growing food. Instead, the couple wanted a stylish but functional eating, lounging while the far end is sunny, so the family can alternate between the two seating areas depending on the time of day.

Mounted on wooden frames, the screens made from purple-coloured Perspex and stainless-steel mesh are one of the most striking features of the finished design. ‘The screens help to break up the long space as well as providing privacy,’ explains Emma, ‘while the bright purple shade ensures there is plenty of interest in the garden, even on dull days or during the winter months.’

The lighting scheme adds yet another dimension to the garden design. ‘Lighting is quite expensive,’ explains Katrina, ‘so it’s vital to get it right and have it installed by a qualified electrician. Often, people place lights facing upwards in their outdoor space, but the light has no impact and just disappears.’ In the Foyles’ garden, the lighting illuminates Emma’s favourite purple planters and is also used to backlight the Perspex screens.

The planting is designed to create long-lasting colour and movement, so grasses move in the breeze, and Heucheras and Phormiums provide evergreen interest. Echinaceas give touches of colour and last for weeks, offering shape both in the summer and then in the autumn when they have sculptural seed-heads. As part of the illusion of space, plants have been sandwiched between the screens to create a multi-layered effect. Not only does this help to make the garden seem larger, but the plants also make striking shadows on the screens when they are lit at night.

Katrina’s team finished the garden project within the six-week schedule, and Emma can now look forward to a summer of entertaining alfresco. ‘It was a very good investment to create such a fantastic space,’ she says. ‘It was definitely worth going for the best we could afford. Skimping always catches up with you further down the line, especially with features such as lighting.

‘Thanks to Katrina’s input, we were able to maximise the amount of space,’ she continues, ‘and we’ve created a garden with the wow-factor we were after.’

The costs

Perspex screens£5,400
Sandstone paving£4,000
Decking£3,600
Planters£3,400
Planting£2,900
Lighting£2,800
Raised bed£2,400
Decking seating£1,700
Clearance and preparation£1,268
TOTAL£27,468

Garden design by Earth Designs (020 8521 9040; earthdesigns.co.uk).