Planning a house project? Please remember the garden…

0 Written by Lisa on 23rd Feb 2017 in Design Tips

I watched the first episode of The House That 100k Built last night.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s one of the most inspiring programmes of its type on TV.  I especially love the way Piers Taylor inspires the use of alternative, sometimes waste, materials to create something really individual and inexpensive that elevates the design to another level.

As with all renovation projects, the garden is often forgotten until the moment when the contingency budget is used up and there just aren’t any more resources left.  It makes me sad and frustrated because the houses are amazing, but they could be so much better with a garden that has been thought through and implemented with the same passion.

I completely understand why budgets get eaten up.  All you need is a couple of challenges along the way that need urgent attention and, poof, the money you’d set aside for a new terrace has disappeared into thin air. But even when funds are depleted, I do think it’s worth taking a step back to think through how the garden connects to the house.

The couple last night used gravel for the driveway and areas around the house which made sense because it’s one of the cheapest hard landscaping materials and funds were really tight, but using cheap materials doesn’t mean you can’t create a well-designed space.

If you get the design and balance of a garden right from the start, it’s possible to change the materials later if needs be.  So, for example, with areas to be hard landscaped, you’ll need a sub-base appropriate for use whatever material you choose.  So, in the case of a driveway, gravel could easily be scraped off and replaced with something else later if the infrastructure is right from day one.

One of my main criticisms of development sites is the lack of planting, especially against the house wall.  If the hard landscaping material meets the house wall it always looks really harsh. In front gardens, you risk your beautiful new renovated house looking like a carpark rather than a welcoming entrance to your home.

Plants, in comparison to hard landscape materials, are cheap.  You can buy small and watch them grow.  As long as the soil doesn’t breach the Damp Proof Course (DPC) there won’t be any issues.  If the levels are a challenge then leave the finished soil level lower than the finished level of the hard landscaping.  Once the beds are full of plants, you won’t even notice the difference.

So, enough said, I’m passionate about gardens.  If you’re planning a renovation project, I urge you to take a bit of time out to consider the design of the garden ahead of time so that you keep some money aside and don’t have to scrabble around at the end trying to make the best of a bad situation.

You don’t have to do the whole thing at once, but if you think about it ahead of time you’ll be able to ensure that the areas that need to be clean and elegant from day one are done in a way that will stand the test of time and won’t require destructing later when you realise you’ve made a big mistake.

From the drawing board: Concept design & sketches for a garden in Abergavenny

0 Written by Lisa on 8th Feb 2017 in From the drawing board

I’ve been working with a couple in Abergavenny over the last few weeks who have recently renovated their house and are now ready to turn their attention to the garden. Read more

Working with curves

0 Written by Lisa on 27th Jan 2017 in Design Tips

I’ve been drawing the design for a large garden in Hurley this week and it involved rather a huge chunk of time working out where all the radius points of my free-hand curves were. Read more

Snowdrop season is just around the corner

0 Written by Lisa on 11th Jan 2017 in Inspiration, Plants

January is always a long month, especially after the festivities of Christmas, but it won’t be long until the snowdrops start to emerge and I always think their arrival promises that spring isn’t that far around the corner. Read more

Happy Christmas!

0 Written by Lisa on 22nd Dec 2016 in From the drawing board

Misty valley in Welsh Hills Lisa Cox Garden Designs

The run up to Christmas always seems to go so fast and I never really know why.  But I’ve been baking a lot this week too which probably hasn’t helped too much with getting my task list done! Read more

From the drawing board: Concept design & sketches for a garden in Hereford

0 Written by Lisa on 13th Dec 2016 in From the drawing board


I’ve recently been working with a client in Hereford who has just moved into his house in the middle of Hereford. It’s a small garden, but in a great location, close to the centre of town and also near the river. Read more

Some grassy inspiration from Barn House Garden

3 Written by Lisa on 8th Dec 2016 in Inspiration


I was very fortunate to be introduced to Kate Patel this year who, as it happens, lives just up the road on the other side of The Wye Valley. Read more

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. Read more

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

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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