Creating a dream outdoor space

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When Margaret and Claudio Marinelli moved into their new home, they wanted their own private garden sanctuary, so they called in a landscaper for inspiration.

Fact File

The owners: Margaret Marinelli, who works in marketing, and her husband Claudio, a managing director, live here with their children, Oisin, three, and Angelina, two

The problem

‘Our home is a new build, so when we first moved in the garden was exactly as it had been left by the developer – lawned with a path to the right, a garden shed to the left and a small decked area close to the house. Every property here had the same garden; there were no features and it was overlooked by the houses at the back.’

What we did

‘We enjoy entertaining friends and family and wanted to be able to eat outdoors in the summer months, but it’s not fun when there’s little privacy – we could see into our neighbours’ gardens, and they could see us.

‘That turned out to be a stroke of luck, because one of our neighbours brought in a landscaping company to redesign their outdoor space, so we had a bird’s-eye view of the project.

‘We were impressed with what was achieved in their garden. It went from being stark and featureless to an attractive outdoor space – and the work was done very quickly. When it was almost finished, I knocked on my neighbour’s door and asked to speak to the landscaper.

‘Landscaper Ross Farrell came to look at our garden that day. I explained that we wanted a more private space, especially for entertaining people, but also somewhere for our two children to enjoy playing in – something more imaginative than a concrete path and a small expanse of lawn.

‘We were thrilled when Ross came back with some brilliant ideas for the garden redesign. First, he overcame the privacy problem with his idea of a long, curved open summerhouse-cum-shed, which was far more attractive than having just a shed there. The new building would back onto the property that overlooked us most to create a more private area in our garden. I loved the colour – a calm blueish-grey that would appear weathered-looking. The summerhouse idea was perfect – all I wanted him to add was a long built-in seat, so there would be plenty of seating for people to relax if they wanted shade from the weather. I also asked Ross to build a small sandpit for the children.

‘We’re not green-fingered, so we settled on having low-maintenance plants. Ross also suggested bringing in one or two larger mature trees which would block out sightlines from neighbouring houses.

‘He planted an acacia outside the summerhouse, which has grown amazingly quickly. I particularly love the wisteria, which trails along the roof line of the shelter with its beautiful blue-mauve flowers hanging down in cascades during the summer. Ross also planted lavender shrubs on the side of the path to the dining area, which release a fabulous scent as you brush by them – they’re also good for wildlife as the bees and butterflies are always hovering around the lavender.

‘When it came to choosing the granite for the terraces we toyed with the idea of white granite but then thought it might be a little too stark and decided instead on an oatmeal colour, because it complements the yellow brick at the back of our house. ‘Once we’d made our decisions and approved Ross’s plans, we couldn’t believe how little time it all took. In just two-and-a-half weeks, we had a totally new outdoor space.

‘It’s amazing the difference in the garden now; the children love riding on their trikes, playing in the summerhouse and messing about in the sandpit. We have people round for parties and barbecues and everyone loves it – it’s so relaxed and looks great.’

Costs

Landscaping materials, including granite£4,035
Edging materials, including blocks, sand and cement£1,922
Timber£2,670
Plants£1,919
Lighting£1,025
Labour£7,325
TOTAL£18,896