Something for the whole family
I was invited to design a small family garden in the New Forest which already had a few things to be incorporated into it. There was a swing seat which the owners enjoyed, a sauna pushed right into one corner and a hot tub under a mass of Clematis Montana. With a son of 3, the owners also wanted sand pit which would have to be covered when not in use so that cats and foxes didn’t come and dig in it.
Although circles are more challenging to create in hard landscaping, and there is inevitably more cost to building them than rectangles, they often fit into a space more effectively. They also tend to lead the eye along them so that your attention moves around the garden and stays within it. After playing with shapes, it was quickly decided that circles were the right way to go.
Both the sauna and the hot tub needed to be more a part of the space. I didn’t need to move either of them far, their positions were reasonable but the hot tub came a little further into the garden with a new and much larger pergola over it and the sauna was angled to sit on the edge of the main circle facing into it. The glass doors on the sauna were tinted to allow more privacy when using it.
A key part of my brief was that there was a robotic mower which came out and mowed the lawn during the night. It senses cables buried around the lawn and turns around, criss-crossing it until it returns by the same wires to its docking station. My client was an early adopter of this technology. The mower needed to overshoot the lawn a little so ’mowing strips’ (a band of hard landscaping) around the lawn needed to be used. This is also an opportunity to create a path around the lawn so that it is not necessary to walk on it during the winter.
The mower (I think we called it ‘Rover’) needed to be hidden in its docking station during the day and this was another opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The den for the mower was set around one side of the hot tub so that there was now a bar on which to put your cold beer or glass of wine.
With the edges of three overlapping circles set in paving, we in-filled two of them with cedar decking and I included the sand pit below one of them so that the deck could be lifted to reveal the sand pit beneath. My later clients put a train set in the borders and a swing on the pergola so that the garden was really a great place for a young child.