South Reigate Family Garden

A Smart New Swedish-inspired garden for a couple of architects

It’s always nice to be approached by professionals with an eye for design and quality, so when a couple of Reigate architects contacted me to create a family garden design in Reigate, I was only too pleased. The couple had a young child and had recently transformed their detached house, which revealed the weakness of their existing garden. This was a perfect opportunity for me to help transform the rear garden in keeping with the tasteful work they had done to the house.

With one of the clients hailing from Sweden we decided to integrate familiar elements of Swedish gardens into this one. Sweden has a lot of birch trees and a lot of granite, so I selected these as key hallmarks of the design, and combined them with a semi-naturalistic planting pallette. I used silver grey granite paving as a tough and natural solution, and the plank format gives a modern twist. The design was planned in two phases so that a children’s play area could in the future be converted to a snug firepit area. This is a good strategy in a family garden design – it’s always important to plan how the garden will be used when children grow up.

The Brief

The challenge was to create a family friendly garden with elements that matched the strong Scandinavian character of the Siberian larch extension that they had built. With the couple favouring a strong Swedish influence, I created a garden that expressed this in a way that worked in suburban Surrey, with subtle visual cues taken from Swedish flora and landscape. The garden also had to be designed to be constructed in two phases, such that an area that at first incorporated a children’s swing set, would in a few years seamlessly be transformed into a beautiful space for relaxing outside in dappled shade next to a fire-pit. Backing on to a large area of allotments, the garden also needed screening and shade.

The Design

The garden initially repeated the use of Siberian larch in both a bespoke garden shed and a matching fencing, but sadly once the quotes came back from the carpenter, that element, along with the large granite boulders that were to act as informal seats, had to be axed – these are the realities of garden design. However, I was very fortunate in sourcing 6 huge multi-stem birch trees at a bargain price, and the birch, granite, larch timber and subdued planting palette all helped to give a sense of space.

The clients are really happy with their garden and enjoy dining, relaxing, watching their daughter play, and even a spot of gardening, something neither of them had done before. A few years on, and phase 2 is now complete, with the swing-set now outgrown and the silver-grey granite patio extended to it’s full width to allow for outside lounge and firepit area.




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