This scruffy overgrown garden was transformed into a social sanctuary

A complete redesign transformed this owner's overgrown garden into a relaxing oasis for her family and friends to enjoy

Outdoor dining area with large dining set, patio and planter stand
(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom Aubyn Photography)

Redesigning their garden was the homeowners ‘to-do’ list when they bought their Victorian London home in 2018, but it became a priority during the first lockdown in 2020 when they had nowhere to relax outside.

Living with their young son and Cockapoo dog, they wanted to create a space full of garden ideas to relax in, with new planting and lighting. Discover how they transformed their 98sq m plot for £65,000.


A poorly-maintained garden with uneven lawn and grey outdoor table at rear of garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

A lack of green fingers meant that the garden was poorly-maintained with an uneven lawn, and broken paving at the centre and rear of the yard. ‘The garden was a jungle of overgrown plants and broken paving, so we couldn’t use it,’ explains the homeowner.

The couple had previously owned a garden that they had tried to design themselves but their lack of plant knowledge meant it was never quite what they had hoped for. ‘Since we plan on being here for many years, we decided to invest in the garden and commission a garden designer to help us to create a beautiful outdoor space to complement the house,' they add.


Outdoor sofa with small outdoor coffee table, with terracotta planter and decorative lanterns containing white wax candles in back garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom Aubyn Photography)

They enlisted the help of designer Joanna Archer who they felt best understood their style and needs. ‘We asked Joanna for a plan that would offer space for outdoor dining and a barbecue, together with an area where we could relax and where our son and dog could play. We also wanted a timeless design that would be sympathetic to the period of the house,' the owners say.

The solution was to firstly replace the old broken fencing with brick walls to complement the warm tones of the building. The garden faces southeast, and Joanna suggested creating a sun terrace with a sofa and chairs by the house and the dining area in a cooler spot at the end of the garden, shaded by the wall and neighbouring trees.

Terracotta water feature with grey pebbles at base and white hydrangea flowers

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

‘The only problem was that we would be overlooked there, so we decided on a simple screen decorated with a star jasmine,’ the homeowner explains. The frame hides the dining area from the view of neighbouring windows while filling the garden with perfume when the summer flowers open. 

A bespoke mirror-backed shelving unit adds a sparkling focal point, as well as the ideal space for pots of herbs for the barbecue. ‘We love the planting Joanna has chosen, which is mostly white and green with spots of brighter colours,’ says the homeowner.

Star jasmine and lavender located next to dining area in back garden

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

‘Spring starts with narcissus and tulips, followed in May by white alliums. The trees also offer colour throughout the year. I love the Amelanchier, which has white spring blossom, summer berries and fiery autumn leaves, but my favourite plant is the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’, with its huge white pompom flowers.’

The homeowners love their new garden, which has met all their expectations and more. ‘On summer evenings, we like to catch the last rays of sun on the tiny patio in the centre of the garden and enjoy the plants and sound of the bubbling water feature – there’s no better place to unwind,’ they say.

The bubbling water feature idea just needs topping up with water now and again in summer.

Alfresco dining area

Alfresco dining area in garden with dining set, brass coloured lanterns with tall white wax candles, planter stand, outdoor Critall-style mirrored shelving unit and brick wall decor

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom Aubyn Photography)

'We love the dining furniture, which is modern yet also suits our period home, and it can stay outside all year.’ says the owner

Get the look: Ribambelle extendable table in Rosemary, £2,790, Cadiz stacking chairs in Rosemary and Cactus, from £285 each, all Fermob

Copy the look with flowers and foliage

Cream coloured garden furniture with cream coloured outdoor cushion decor

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

‘My favourite plants are the large white ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas which I can admire from the patio.' says the homeowner

White alliums in garden with assorted foliage in back garden with brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

The seedheads of May-flowering white alliums extend the interest into summer.

Potted standard bay trees (Laurus nobilis) add drama and provide privacy on the sun terrace next to the house.

Potted standard bay trees (Laurus nobilis) in back-garden against brick wall

(Image credit: Future PLC / Tom St Aubyn Photography)

Focus on: garden lighting

Garden lighting ideas are a great way to extend the time you have in your outdoor space, even into winter.

  • Design: Zoe Duff Gordon designed the lighting for the garden and recommends uplighting small trees with narrow beams to create drama. Lights with broad beams create subtle ambient light in borders, while downlights fixed high on walls offer more directed light on a patio or dining area. Also light steps and paths allow safe access at night.
  • Lighting options: LEDs are the best options for gardens – look for an IP rating of 65 or above which guarantees they’re waterproof. Solar-powered lights only produce a soft glow and you must install the solar panel in full sun to recharge. Warm white lights offer the most natural effect in a garden.
  • Installation: Employ a qualified, experienced electrician to install outdoor lights. Zoe suggests a few circuits will allow maximum flexibility, and longer cabling for spike lights so they can be moved to highlight seasonal planting.
Millie Hurst
Senior Content Editor

Millie Hurst was Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home from 2020-2022, and is now Section Editor at Homes & Gardens. Before stepping into the world of interiors, she worked as a Senior SEO Editor for News UK in both London and New York. You can usually find her looking up trending terms and finding real-life budget makeovers our readers love. Millie came up with the website's daily dupes article which gives readers ways to curate a stylish home for less.