garden design and installation plans


A great plan followed by skilful construction gives an excellent garden. The plan drawing of a garden ceases its meaning once the garden is built but it is the basis for all that occurs in the space. Sometimes the constraints of the site can give a new edge to a project when the limitation of the build affects the design and new tweaks better the result. A garden designer is only as good as the landscape builder and the garden only remains looking good if maintained well. Planting evolves with time; it is quite personal and is also subject to many environmental aspects. Planting design is one of the areas where we find deviating from a plan and experimenting happens the most.

1. Planter for a roof terrace 2. Garden in Highbury 3. Roof terrace in Bermondsey 4. Water feature 5. Modern planters 6. Garden with terrace in North London 7. Curved planter in Islington 8. Contemporary patio in Fulham 9. Small rooftop in Chelsea 10. Large roof garden

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A square planter always looks better when having less height than its depth and width. Here we wanted to introduce a new detail by folding the top lips inward at an angle to mimic the shape of the brick detail in the perimeter wall and plant the tree lower than the edge. The colours of the roof terrace are natural being surrounded by woodland and so is the planter hue and the trunks of the magnificent Acer griseum (Paper Bark Maple.)

Design and build of a contemporary planter on roof terrace in Highgate

  2. FAMILY GARDEN | Highbury.

Here we retained 2 mature Chusan palms that give the garden structure. The garden design was pretty much executed to the finite detail with the exception of not using a third palm on the right to create a triangle. Instead, we used a beautiful and unusual Wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides). A hardwood shed was also added on the right hand side by the gate (camouflaged by the evergreen, dense Wheel tree.) These changes added further substance as the hardwood is repeated across the garden in deck, bench and storage and there is greater variety in the foliage. Two types of artificial grass varying in colour and height provide a soft and invigorating soft play area for the young children.

Contemporary before and after with plan of garden in London

  3. ROOF TERRACE | Bermondsey.

This terrace was designed for a young couple so we were immediately drawn towards introducing 3 perfect pairs of planters. With so much light drama at night projecting from the city so close by we added lighting into these planters and the surfaces. We always try and balance the decks as level as possible and here it is a perfect surface between the sandstone and lighting. This means that every planter, structure and detail elevated from the deck presents a perfect horizontal line to the naked eye as it moves from handrail to planter, furniture, the building and the landscape beyond. With so much wind on the terrace, the small planting at the front tends to get changed every now and again and this gives an opportunity to try new exciting combinations.

modern plan with planters and lighting for a roof terrace with a view of city of London


This simple elevation took a long time to arrive at. Yet once the garden design was rationalised, the detailing had a good flow resulting in a smooth installation process. As with many water features the concept of running water on different finishes of granite was not guaranteed to work - but it did. Tilting the stone was a way of assuring a good flow and an elegant appearance so a success both visually and technically. For this waterfall to stand out, an appropriate background and accompaniments were needed. A rendered wall provides a smooth backdrop, while a sculptural Eucalyptus on the right and a Chusan palm on the left add balance and soften the structure with texture and silhouettes.

City water feature for a London garden with granite


On such a big project encompassing the front, side, back and roof terrace gardens, we wanted to add as many signature pieces as possible. The tilted tree planters were used in pairs on the roof terrace and the front door. Initially, we crafted a small model to evaluate the feel and look and then developed the elevations. The matt finish of the powder coating adds slight reflection so the Olive tree trunks produce shadows on the clear surface of the planters. The rest of the planters have some form of an opening in them as we believe even the smallest amount of light can enhance a space and create a vibrant dynamic.

Powder coated bespoke planters for a garden and roof terrace

  6. GARDEN WITH TERRACE | North London.

Here one can see how a garden design evolves – the decking runs across in the plan, but in reality we built it the same as the step and roof terrace. This photograph, taken from the master bedroom’s window shows how well this change worked as all the wood runs in the same direction.

View and plan of contemporary garden from terrace

  7. CURVED PLANTER | Islington.

This whole terrace design was a play on light or rather the lack of it. There are other hollow planters against the glass handrails allowing a continuous view to the canal water down below. This large 1.8 metre planter is more defines a reversed scale with low planting - effective as there is a good wall to display it against. As a contrast to this glamorous looking structure, we planted native Irises and used down lighting to create shadow definition onto the deck below. This was a design where we drew the plan and elevation in a 1:20 scale and the person constructing it had a very good eye in interpreting such a small drawing into a large planter. The colour is one of our favourite RAL colours - the granite grey 7026.

Curved unique planter with Irises on a decked terrace in Islington


This is a small patio garden yet a one that had a big team around it in this extensive house renovation in London’s Fulham. Inspiration was flowing from both sides of the team so the tiles used were the interior ones chosen for the kitchen and bathrooms. The small hardwood deck separating the kitchen and patio worked out very well as the eye moves across it to make out one big space. Interestingly this was a plan that was landscaped without changes and a one that worked out beyond our expectations. This photograph, which we took a while after construction, demonstrates how well all the plants performed.

Small modern patio with lighting and furniture in south London

  9. SMALL ROOFTOP | Chelsea.

The landscape construction of new roofs in penthouse apartments usually lacks any kind of imagination. However, here we thought the drab existing slabs could be reused rather than completely disposed of. By re-orientating them at an angle and replacing every fourth line with a beautiful lilac band of sandstone, the space would feel bigger. Although it was unintentional, the existing table fitted exactly on this grid and added to the very precise series of details throughout.

Small rooftop terrace in Chelsea with paving, built in seating, sculpture and furniture

10. LARGE ROOF GARDEN | Vauxhall.

With 220 sqm on the seventh floor there was not much room for error. The plan was very precise and so was the installation. Both the site and the client were inspirational and this is exactly what one needs to make three intense months of building in the wind and heat enjoyable. We consulted a few experts to gain a good perspective on how to approach this project build once we had a solid design drawing. We discussed how to fasten the deck to the concrete slabs to prevent levitation, the logistics, access, the weight, water supply and negotiating the layout around the dozen existing abseiling points.

A large roof garden over Vauxhall Bridge with decking

To install an unrationalised garden design, no matter how good the contractor is, will only produce an average garden. Conversely, to construct a good design with poor building skills will only result in disappointment. Similarly, even an excellent drawing is not enough to build a garden, as project management makes a project succeed. The right specialist for each task provides the all-important advantage, as employing an expert always saves costs and gives the right result.

amir   Written, photographed (unless indicated) and posted by Amir Schlezinger.

Before during and after of a cantilevered bench in a contemporary patio garden

Before, during and after | Primrose Hill garden construction.

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