From the drawing board: Concept design for a challenging garden near Camberley

0 Written by Lisa on 28th Nov 2016 in From the drawing board

I have recently been working with a client near Camberley who has a very challenging garden. She contacted me a few months ago with some pictures of the site and it became clear very quickly why she didn’t really know what to do.


The garden is pretty much full with mature trees, three of which are Sequoia (Redwood). The others are pines and oaks and the whole site is subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) which means that the trees are protected.


The main challenge is the soil which is starved of water and nutrients. This isn’t surprising of course, with mature trees, but it’s been a challenge to get anything to grow or even to fork over the beds in the first place.

What’s adding to the challenge is the issue of compacted ground. Actually, the house was built within the last 25 years so I’m quite surprised that the development was permitted so close to the trees in the first place.


There are ways to improve the soil around mature trees and we’ve discussed the possibility of decompacting the ground using a piece of machinery called an air spade.  This piece of kit uses compressed air to aerate the soil without causing damage to the roots.

The other consideration is to use plants that can tolerate difficult situations.  Planting under mature trees is always going to be tricky, but it should be possible to grow something.

I’ve had some success with planting under a mature oak before.  We used smaller 9cm plants because the soil was quite shallow and planted more per m2 than we would have normally done. Actually sometimes it allows you to grow species that would otherwise be a bit invasive!

So here is the concept design for the site and a few sketch views.  Essentially I think we need to maximise the small area of the garden near the house which is furthest from the trees. That way, even if we’re not fully successful with growing plants throughout the garden, there will be an area that looks and feels lush and green.



I am proposing that the terrace is reduced in size a little to allow for some planting against the house wall.

I’ve also introduced some beds to separate the terrace from the lawn area. This will give it more depth and allow for more planting near the house.


We agreed from the start that the areas under the trees should have a woodland feel – to be honest, it wouldn’t really make sense to do anything different.

The boundaries could do with a little bit of screening so we’ve talked about some robust shrubs such as Fatsia japonica which is tolerant of dry shade, but the majority of the planting will be low with bark pathways throughout.


In order to spread the cost, the garden will be implemented in phases, but at least there is a master plan in place and an end goal in sight. I’m looking forward to hearing about the progress as and when it happens.


From the drawing board: Concept design for a large family garden in Hurley

0 Written by Lisa on 18th Nov 2016 in From the drawing board


I’ve recently been working with a family in Hurley who are keen to make more of their large garden.  Although it’s relatively flat, it’s a little tricky because the house is positioned over to one side of the plot and is at an awkward angle. Read more

Canary Wharf Part 3 – The gardens

0 Written by Lisa on 14th Nov 2016 in Inspiration


You may question what the image above has to do with gardens, but as we were about to go up the escalator to the Cross Rail Roof Garden, this was the scene out of the window. Quite dramatic don’t you think? Read more

Canary Wharf Part Two – Black & White

0 Written by Lisa on 8th Nov 2016 in Inspiration


I don’t normally take pictures in black and white, but I think sometimes they can be more dramatic than colour photographs, especially when the architecture is strong. Read more

A trip to Canary Wharf with my camera

0 Written by Lisa on 3rd Nov 2016 in Inspiration


I’ve never been to Canary Wharf before, quite amazing really considering that I lived in London for 8 years and worked in the City for most of that time. Read more

From the drawing board: Epsom garden finished

0 Written by Lisa on 28th Oct 2016 in From the drawing board


I went back to see my Epsom project last week which, apart from the new shed, is all finished. Read more

From the drawing board: Courtyard garden in Reigate 1 year on

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Oct 2016 in From the drawing board


I was up in Surrey and London earlier this week and I managed to get over to Reigate to see the courtyard garden that was finished and planted up last May.  It’s looking really fabulous after such a short space of time. Read more

Grab your wallet, there are some bargains to be had

0 Written by Lisa on 27th Sep 2016 in Garden accessories

Barlow Tyrie furniture Chiswick Garden Lisa Cox Designs

I popped into our local garden centre last week and was horrified to see that they were already clearing the shelves and getting ready for the Christmas decorations.  In September, really? Read more

A few days away in south west Wales

0 Written by Lisa on 20th Sep 2016 in Inspiration


We managed to grab a couple of days away last week in a place called Llansteffan, on the Towy estuary.  We had the most amazing weather and I was very happy to take in the open sandy beaches and big skies which always present themselves in coastal locations. Read more

Time to be thinking about your spring bulbs

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Sep 2016 in Plants

Golden narcissus at RHS Garden Wisley Lisa Cox

Bulb planting is one of my least favourite tasks, I think perhaps because it takes quite a bit of effort and you have to wait a long time before you get to reap the rewards.  Even thinking about the future displays of spring flowers doesn’t always get me fully motivated! Read more

Lisa Cox Welcome

I specialise in helping families to turn their gardens into an extension of their home and into a space that can be used and enjoyed all year round.

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