Lose yourself in this multi-zoned garden oasis in south Wales

An outdated plot has been given a new identity with handmade fixtures and lush, jungle-like foliage

garden renovation with bricked fireplace and potted plants
(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

'Before my husband Gareth retrained as a builder, he worked as a landscaper, and a brilliant one at that,’ says owner Miffy Shaw. ‘He’d envisaged his ideal garden even before we bought the house, and watching it finally start to take shape gave us such a buzz.'

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'We inherited an outdated crazy paving patio with an awkwardly located apple tree right in the middle,' she adds. 'The patio was first to go, then we raised a portion of the ground closest to the house so the floor would be level with the kitchen, as we loved the idea of summer gatherings spilling out into the garden.'

patio area with grennery

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

The fireplace was made using bricks that the couple salvaged when they knocked down an inside wall. It features a cavity for storing logs and openings at the top where Miffy planted flowers and shrubs to soften the look. 'Gareth built it himself, and it looks incredible,' she says. 'Now it’s really lovely to sit outside, even on a winter’s evening, and keep warm in front of the fire.'

A parasol that Miffy brought back from a trip to Spain makes the space feel extra exotic.

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Garden landscaping by Shaw Property Developments
Buy now: Similar Liberace parasol, £399, East London Parasol Company
Buy now: 
Similar Icelandic sheepskin, from £64, Hide Rugs

Related: How to make pallet garden furniture – a step-by-step guide

garden pond with fishery and greenery surrounding it

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Gareth really loves water, so a pond was non-negotiable. It’s really cleverly designed, as the rockery forms one side, and there’s a wall with a glass window on the other.

To make it seem like the garden was mature, the couple included structural elements made from materials that feel as if they've always been there. Large, rough rocks, distressed woods, old brickwork, bamboo poles and brushwood screening all work well.

garden with artificial lawn with rocky outline

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

The couple didn’t have the heart to remove the apple tree, so they designed the lower half of the space around it. 'Gareth was set on having a rockery to form an almost cliff-like divide between the two halves. He brought in huge boulders to create the look he wanted,' says Miffy. ‘We created privacy with ferns and olive trees – they’re my favourites.’

Miffy loves the smell of grass, but having a lawn just seemed impractical with a dog – all the digging, the mud and the lawn-mowing – so she chose to put down artificial turf instead. 'It doesn’t have the charm of real grass, but it looks great all year round and doesn’t need much maintenance,' she says.

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Buy now: Similar Windermere Artificial Grass, £17.99 per sq m, Carpetright

cooking pizza in outdoor blue oven

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Make it sculptural with plants that have big leaves and dramatic shapes. Bamboos, ferns, cordylines and palm trees are perfect examples. Go for contrast – big leaves next to smaller, more delicate ones for maximum impact.

Here, clusters of silver, grey and lilac blooms gives the foliage an almost metallic glint. ‘Once the oven has warmed up, you can cook pizzas in under a minute,' says Miffy. 'It’s great when we have friends over.’

wooden house with blue window

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Another fabulous makeover: Before and after: making good use of a garden’s dead space

'We clad the exterior of the house with scaffolding boards and used them for the window boxes, too,’ says Miffy, whose final hurdle was working out how to connect the two zones so the garden felt fluid and easy to navigate. 'We didn’t have our daughter at the time,' she explains. 'But knowing we wanted children, steps didn’t seem like a good idea.'

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Buy now: Scaffolding boards, from £12.53, B&Q

In the end, they settled on a slope made from scaffolding boards. It marries the social area at the top with the more playful part at the bottom seamlessly. 'Also, by using low-cost scaffolding boards and reclaimed bricks to create features and furniture, we had a bigger budget for trees and flowers,' adds Miffy, who filled every corner and crevice with plants and exotic trees to create this oasis.

Love Miffy's style? You can follow her on Instagram @miffyshaw.

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.