We have a big lawn. When we had the garden landscaped that was one of our main criteria – a big lawn for our boys to play on. And that’s exactly what we got. A big expanse of perfect green. It was lovely for about four months.
The boys played on it for a while and then settled into digging for worms and sticking the hosepipe out of different holes in their play structure. Our beautiful lawn lay largely unused. We had the occasional camp out in the summer where we invited our neighbours and their kids to pitch their tents and bar-b-que. And the dogs love to have a mad half hour and run round and round in circles on it. But… other than that it’s an expensive mowing hobby and a huge time-suck.
Yes, it looks nice in the Spring when everything is lush and green. But in the Winter? The words ‘mud and bath’ come to mind.
Over the Christmas break, when I was busy taking stock of my life and making plans to ‘make it better next year,’ I decided that enough was enough. Life is too short to worry about broadleaf weeds and moss! Really it is. I proposed a downsize.
There is part of the lawn that grows without much fuss but then there is another corner of the lawn that simply would not grow. The reason is simple really, it’s right underneath a huge Linden tree, constantly in shade and eternally damp. If I was a blade of grass I would down tools too.
So we (I) hatched a plan to dig up the lawn and turn it into something less boring instead. I came up with a circular seating area design complete with easy chairs and firepit, reached by a gravel pathway. There would be an archway covered in Honeysuckle and some trained fruit trees bounded by a double hedge of Box bushes (this last idea was stolen from a National Trust property I visited once).
In January we set to work. We spent a whole day digging up our garden. It looked horrendous – a bit like it did when we first landscaped the back garden. We had to buy wire fences to keep the dogs out of the building site.
In a few weekends the seating area took shape and soon we were hammering in steel edging and barrowing in truck-loads of gravel. Then came the gate and archway, the chairs, the chiminea, finally the plants (still going on that one) and lights. And now it’s finished!
I’m so pleased with it. But more than that I’m pleased that I had the foresight to see that something was not working and to change it as quickly as possible. Fighting a lawn is unnecessary. I’d much rather have a twinkly night-time chill out area than another patch of green that we can collectively ignore. Any day!
The finished area. Much more useable and prettier too!
The Courts Garden at Holt. Inspiration for my new project. This is what it will look like in about ooh… five years?
Love everything but the size of the chiminea- needs to be bigger! Of course I could be saying this because here, in Belgium, today is April 1st and the April fools joke is that it is now colder than January 1st was( and I could use a nice roaring fire about now :-) )We recently bought a new home with a much larger garden than our previous residence – the new house has a lot of hedging – which terrifies me, I would love your advice on maintaining and clipping it neatly!
“I fought the lawn, and the lawn won, I fought the lawn, and the lawn won!”
Looks great, by the way. Cudos for taking something that isn’t working, and changing it to something that does.
I have been planning to get rid of my last small patch of lawn for quite some time now, and I shall do it now after having seen your great garden transformation. The pleached fruit trees at NT place look fantastic, you’re not having any?
I knew immediately you meant The Courts :) That’s my favourite Wiltshire garden. We visited last week and it was on fine form – your inspirational hedge is a little taller now. By a spooky coincidence I’ve also blogged about The Courts today :)
Ha Ha! Thanks for the update. It’s been about two years but I still look at all the photos I took there. There will be more stealing of ideas in the future I think.
This has been rather thought provoking, because we have a large decked area that I wish to reclaim now that the boys are bigger and no longer scooter and trampoline. Although little Olly is still whirly gigging around the garden, he prefers digging in the mud and playing with his trains on the area outside the conservatory. I love the idea of an evening seating area and low maintenance planting. The idea of a fire pit appeals too. You’ve done a lovely job, and given me food for thought into the bargain!
Thanks Leanne – I say ‘go for it!’
We have a small garden front and never even thought about putting grass down. We haven’t any kids which would have made a difference maybe, but instead the front is all box balls and rhododendrons with a tree in the corner..big impact.
Combining hardscapes and softscapes is a wonderful way to fill in stubborn areas and create a unique, inviting outdoor oasis.