Design of Front and Back Gardens

The Company

Green Shoots Gardening Services is a small Twickenham-based company set up in 2002 by experienced gardeners Katie Mawdsley and Nic Wiseman.  They provide a professional yet highly personalised service covering all aspects of residential and commercial gardening from clearances and tidies to fresh designs and ongoing maintenance.

Diana had previously used Greenshoots to renovate the back garden at her old flat and given that they did a good job on that (and also the fact that Nic had once helped me carry a very heavy television up the stairs to Diana's flat!) we decided to use them again.

The Work

Neither the front nor the back gardens were in a particularly good state when we bought the house, but after being used as storage for building materials for 6 months they looked even worse!  Especially as the front garden had been used to keep a skip and the first time the builders had tried to get it out to swap it for a new one, they'd managed to demolish the front wall.

 The back garden was just an area of mud with some rotten fencing around the edges and a crumbly garden wall in one section.


The front garden was a bit better, but not much.  Just mud, grass and a couple of rose bushes which were just about surviving...

...until the builders used the front garden for the skip!
There was no point thinking about doing anything to either garden until the builders had finished all the work inside and the final skip had been removed.
We asked Nic from Greenshoots to come round to visit the house in early December 2007 so that we could discuss options for the garden and enable him to prepare a quote for the work that was required.
We decided that we would have a curved area of decking just outside the kitchen door and then the rest of the back garden would be tiled.  There would also be a raised bed on the left hand side and a curved bed in the corner for some plants and a small tree.  In addition new fencing would be erected along both sides and at the rear, while the crumbly wall on the right would be rendered.
At the front of the house, the pathway would be dug up and tiled with some Victorian mosaic tiles in a similar style to the existing tiles in the porchway which can be seen below.
The front wall would of course be rebuilt and the rest of the garden would be covered with sandstone chippings with a circular brick planter in the centre where a tree can be planted.
Work was to start on Wednesday 9 January 2008 and at that time the back garden looked like this:
The Results
The first day was largely spent clearing out some of the rubbish from the back garden, digging up the raised bed on the right hand side, removing a tree stump and rendering the brick wall.
There was a lot of rain throughout the rest of the week, but by the morning of Saturday 12 January, the back fence had been taken down and the fence posts and supports had been put up for the new fence. 
Unfortunately the bad weather continued the next week and the near constant torrential rain meant that not much progress was made.  On Monday 14 January the back fence panels were put in place.
On Wednesday 16 January Greenshoots were able to make a start on rebuilding the wall in the front garden, however the rain meant that they didn't get very high!
That day also saw some work done on preparing the ground for the paving that will be laid in the back garden.  The concrete base has now been laid.
On Monday 21 January they put up two fence panels on the left hand side of the back garden.  I don't think we're actually responsible for that side of the house as it looks like the existing fencing was put up by our neighbours.  However it was a pretty ugly bit of fencing so we've put some nice new panels up to hide it.
They also made a bit more progress on the front wall.  Although I don't think they'll be winning any prizes for the speed at which that wall is going up!
Tuesday 22 January was a day in which very little progress was made at all, despite the fact that it was a completely dry day, with no rain to disrupt work.  In fact the progress was so poor that Diana was forced to give GreenShoots a call to find out what had been going on!  All that had been achieved was the first layer of bricks for the raised bed in the back garden and a couple more layers of brick on the front wall.
The next day Wednesday 23 January saw the front wall largely finished and a few more bricks laid for the raised bed at the back.
The raised bed was completed on Thursday 24 January and the rendering on the wall on the right hand side of the back garden was also finished off.
For those still reading this far down the page and who might be a bit bored by all the pictures of brick walls (there must be a few!), you'll be pleased to know that work started on something different on Friday 25 January!  Yes, a start was made on laying the patio with some big black limestone slabs on a 100mm sharp-sand concrete bed.  I think the tiles look good and are similar to the tiles in the kitchen (but a bit chunkier).  It's all about that "inside-outside" vibe!  Sarah Beeney would be proud I'm sure.  Or maybe Matt James the City Gardener.  One of them anyway...