Design Tips

Softening the edges in small gardens

4 Written by Lisa on 6th Jul 2015 in Design Tips

Grass mounds Hauser Wirth Somerset Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Using curves in small spaces can be a challenge as often there just isn’t the space to allow the curve to be what it is.

In larger gardens, where space isn’t an issue, it’s much easier to incorporate sweeping lines and softer edges.

Meandering gravel pathway Lisa Cox Garden Designs

So what do you do if you don’t really want crisp straight edges in your small courtyard garden?  Here are a couple of tricks…

Letting the planting spill over the edge of pathways can really help to soften the straight edges.

Ideally you want to start off with a wide path so that you still have enough space to walk when the plants fill out.  At least 1.2m if you can.

Brick path Hotel Villa Augustus Lisa Cox Designs

In really small gardens you have to be careful not to choose plants that will fill out too much, especially if you don’t have the luxury of being able to incorporate wide pathways so try to think about using plants that are naturally neat and tidy.

Alternatively you could stagger the paving so that you don’t have a straight edge.  This can be effective in creating a false curve through a small space, tricking the eye into thinking that your garden structure is curved when actually it’s a series of rectangles.

Bench in Homebase Garden RHS Chelsea 2014 Lisa Cox Designs

If you’re incorporating walls of any kind, choosing which materials you use can make a difference to how the garden feels overall.

So, for example, using stone for a raised bed or wall will give a much softer and organic feel than a rendered wall with crisp edges, even if the layout of the garden is the same.

Stone wall cleve west chelsea 2011

If you only have space for a small square terrace, use pots of different shapes and sizes to soften the look.

Hakonechloa macra Aureola in pot Lisa Cox Garden Designs

This is where you can bring curves into a space really effectively and if a plant is confined to a pot, even species that would usually outgrow their space, can easily be kept in check.  Grasses and sedges look particularly great in tall pots as the foliage can spill over and give a sense of informality.


Planting – getting the colour tone right

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Jun 2015 in Design Tips, Plants

RHS Flower Show Cardiff 2015 Lisa Cox A Front Garden for Victoria Park Mazda

When I designed the garden at RHS Flower Show Cardiff I really thought the crowd would be divided about the planting because of the warm and vibrant colours.  But I couldn’t have been more wrong, everyone seemed to love it! Read more

Some golden rules when choosing your paving

2 Written by Lisa on 25th Feb 2015 in Design Tips

New terrace East Horsley Garden Design Lisa Cox

I went to Southampton for a meeting about RHS Cardiff yesterday and one of the main things to decide were the hard landscaping materials.  It’s so important when you’re choosing your materials that you check they work well together, and are in keeping with whatever materials are already on site otherwise you could be looking out onto a garden that makes you cringe! Read more

Looking beyond your boundaries

0 Written by Lisa on 16th Feb 2015 in Design Tips

Majestic oak tree in Surrey hills Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Borrowing the landscape is a garden design trick of old.  Even if you’re not lucky enough to have a great view, it doesn’t mean that you can’t borrow some of the features from the neighbouring landscape. Read more

Do you really know your garden?

2 Written by Lisa on 27th Jan 2015 in Design Tips

Snowdrops Lisa Cox Garden Designs

We ventured out into the garden yesterday to do a bit of clearing up. The house had been empty for almost a year before we moved in and before that was rented out for a few years so the garden has really been left to its own devices. Read more

Tackling really small gardens

0 Written by Lisa on 25th Nov 2014 in Design Tips

Bletchingley courtyard sketch Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I’ve just been working on the designs for a client in Richmond who has the tiniest of gardens, just 25m2 to be precise.  Spaces this small can often be more challenging to design because it’s every square inch counts. Read more

The power of yellow…do you love to hate it?

0 Written by Lisa on 4th Nov 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Yellow day lilies at Loseley Park hemerocallis

When I first start to talk to clients about plants, the majority of people say that they don’t want any yellow.  From experience what they actually mean is that there’s a particular plant with a particular tone of yellow that they don’t like or want in the garden. Read more

The best gardening gloves in town

1 Written by Lisa on 24th Oct 2014 in Design Tips


I’ve recently ordered a new box of Atlas gardening gloves and it wasn’t until I was placing the order that I realised the last batch lasted me 5 years!  I was first introduced to them when I worked with Garden Designer, Fiona Stephenson, and I’ve used them ever since. Read more

5 trees that work hard in all seasons

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Oct 2014 in Design Tips, Plants

Autumn colours in Wales Lisa Cox Garden Designs

I love the autumn when the leaves start to turn and the colours become warm and vibrant.  This year it seems to be taking a while to get going, in fact yesterday it was a barmy 20 degrees in Surrey, but there are some signs that the trees are turning. Read more

Big flowerbeds are better

1 Written by Lisa on 2nd Sep 2014 in Design Tips

The Flower Garden at Loseley Lisa Cox Designs

Often when I’m working with clients they are concerned about turning too much of the garden over to planting.  This is especially the case when they want a low maintenance garden.  Although they often become interested, many of my clients don’t start off as very keen gardeners and the reason they want to work with a professional is because they don’t have the first clue about plants and what to do with them. 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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