Courtyard garden with paved terrace and raised lawn, Oxfordshire

Courtyard garden with paved terrace and raised lawn, Oxfordshire

This elegant residential courtyard garden in Oxfordshire includes a paved terrace, a stunning flight of steps leading to a raised circular lawn and wild-life friendly planting for screening and interest.

Our client was undertaking a renovation of their house and adding a modern rear extension. The brief was to design and build a new garden with a paved dining and seating area next to the house that worked seamlessly with the extension. Another request was to create different levels in the garden to achieve a sense of mystery.

Hard landscaping in traditional and natural materials

In this garden design the original brick walls have been retained, restored and repaired. The traditional brick walls feature attractive flint work which has also been preserved. Flint has been an important building material in England since the Roman times.

New raised beds echo the walls and were built using matching bricks. Raised beds make pathways and patios easier to maintain as there is a definitive line between the bed and the ground. The raised beds also give the garden an orderly, well-defined appearance and make it easier to tend to the plants

All the new hard landscaping elements in the garden were built using natural materials. The patio is paved, for instance, with natural limestone. The same limestone tiles have been used within the new extension too. This creates a seamless transition between the house and the outside dining area and makes both spaces appear lighter and bigger.

Steps invite exploration

The steps, an attractive design feature in themselves, lead up to a partly-concealed garden at the rear of the plot. This creates a sense of mystery and the illusion of there being more garden to discover. When the garden isn’t all revealed at once, it creates a sense of anticipation and a curious wonder of what might lie beyond. Varying height levels always add interest to a garden design. Here, the elevated lawn also enhances the feeling of space. The lawn is circular which is a formal lawn shape and makes a strong visual statement. The curved edge adds movement and a softness to the garden.

Dividing a garden – regardless of its shape – into a series of zones obscures the actual size of the plot and can make the whole area feel more expansive.

Stylish garden features

A key focal point is an olive tree planted in an elegant terracotta Minoan pot. Made using ancient artisan techniques, the frost-resistant pot has a lovely natural patina.

Another feature in the garden is the wooden handcrafted arbour, also called a bower, which has a built-in bench to provide sheltered seating. Painted in a soft heritage colour, the timber arbour makes a special retreat and adds character to the space.

Soft landscaping and planting

The garden features planting for year-round interest and includes shrubs such as the impressive flowering Hydrangea Grandiflora and attractive dark green yew hedging. Yew is a native evergreen and its dense growth and red fruits provide valuable shelter and food for wildlife. A must-have herb garden was also incorporated among the hedging. Herbs are easy to grow, delightfully fragrant and when freshly picked add fantastic flavour to food and drinks.

The pleached trees, grown here for added privacy above the wall, will create a stunning visual effect without taking up much space on the ground. They’re ideal in this garden for screening, structure and directing the eye. Pleaching is a method of training trees to produce a narrow screen or hedge and has been used by garden designers for at least four centuries.

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