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  • Writer's pictureBridgette Macilwaine

Biodiverse & edible urban garden

An urban garden renovation in Middleton-on-Sea, adding colour, texture, and depth to an overgrown and empty space. Seasonal colours, combined with edible flowers and vegetable growing areas designed around a dining terrace, sauna, firepit and immersive seating areas.

The planting scheme in this garden was definitely very busy and may be too complicated for most clients, but this garden was intended to be a continuous changing garden each year, due to the choice to include numerous edible flowers, vegetables, fruits and numerous flower plants to support local biodiversity.

Above - before and after:

View from the outdoor dining and kitchen area towards the garden boundaries. Being able to see your boundaries can instantly make the garden feel smaller and more enclosed. In this case, the new fence was painted black, taller shrubs were included along the boundary, with smaller colourful and textural plants in front of these and then edible flowers and vegetables planted along the path edges and paved terrace for easy access and harvesting.

Above - before and after:

Looking towards the kitchen back door - an outdoor paved patio and dining area was installed, with a stepping stone path with gravel form that patio to an additional paved area under a timber pergola. Planting either side of the gravel path and near the house, blurs the boundaries of the garden, creates a sense of exploration and helps make the garden feel larger.

Above - before and after:

View from the kitchen bi-folding doors towards the 2mx 2m sauna and small garden bar. The sauna was bespoke detailed to include 2 normal height shelves and an additional third shelf higher up near the ceiling for lying down only. The bespoke build sauna also allowed for thick insulating walls, integrated vents, coal stand, under seat strip lighting and an outdoor shower included in the screened over hang section.

Purchased as a renovation project, this garden was overgrown, overcrowded weeds and uninviting. The brief was to create enhance this small urban garden which connected the open plan interior of the house to the garden. The design aimed to accommodate the several hobbies into a limited space, which included an outdoor seating and cooking area, gravel firepit zone, small water feature, 2m x 2m sauna, in ground and timber raised planting beds which allows growing space for vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, to support daily meals and local biodiversity.

Design process:

Constraints of the garden:

  • Coastal location and quite windy

  • Existing thick clay soil

  • Esisting boundary fence was old, rotting and falling over - to be replaced

  • Retaining the large existing tree

  • Incorporating 2 below ground soakaways as part of planning conditions

  • Slightly sloping overgrown garden

  • Two large bifold doors exiting into the garden spaces - paving required

  • Integrated and automated irrigation and lighting system

  • More than 50% garden plants to be edible 

Initially, analysis of the existing space was over laid with the opportunities and constraints of the garden as well as analysis of movement across the garden and views into and from within the varying garden zones.

Design sketch options are discussed with the client with regards to the use of the space, the balance between hard and soft materials, sunny and shady areas which will affect plant selection, seating areas, water features, sculpture options and additional designed elements.


Thanks for reading, any questions, we would love to hear from you!


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