15 September 2022
How to Create a Beautiful Outdoor Space on a Budget
Last year we ran a competition to win a garden makeover worth £5000, including paving and design by the talented Sue Hetherington from Courtingtons, an architectural and landscape design practice. The winners were Danielle and Dan from the Wirral who were looking for a classic but contemporary garden design that was low maintenance. We asked Danielle and Sue some questions about the process of how they created this beautiful outdoor space on a 5k budget.
The Garden Design
"The garden had a huge amount of potential, but a number of challenges to overcome. Competition winner Danielle and her partner Dan were great entertainers and loved catering for family and friends. The existing garden had been well planted at one time by previous occupants but was at the stage where many of the existing shrubs were old and leggy, and there was a constant battle with Mare’s Tail! They had converted their garage into a fabulous bijou bar linking out into the garden but needed the outdoor space to complement it. Living in a period property but also appreciating the contemporary, the garden design needed to reflect both – harmonising with the traditional architecture of the house whilst embracing the more contemporary interior decor.
The most immediate challenge to address was the height difference between the access out from the glazed doors at the rear of the property and the level of the garden below. The existing access out was narrow with a solid screen which blocked views of the garden from the interior, and steps which ran to the side of the landing. By widening the steps and taking them straight down into the garden we immediately opened up views and the journey from the house to the garden became much more flowing and inviting. A large paved seating area was created linking from the base of the steps right into the garden, creating an open terrace for entertaining with a raised bed to the boundary to incorporate the levels which sloped across the site.
At the far end of the terrace a small formal lawn extended from a wide, shallow set of steps. The lawn was edged with paving laid flush with the grass to create a clean and contemporary look, give continuity from the terrace as well as facilitating easy mowing. From the boundary of the formal lawn a mown grass path led the eye to the far end of the garden bordered by an area of wildflower turf and fruit trees to increase the biodiversity of the site, something also important to Danielle. A feature bench and planters were suggested as a focal point to the end of the path and garden, where views were afforded back over the garden towards the house. "
Sue Hetherington, Courtingtons
Life in the New Garden
1. How did you feel when you got the call to say you’d won the competition?
"When we received the call from Tom, I was totally shocked and ecstatic. We love socialising and entertaining in our home; therefore, the thought of a lovely garden was very exciting. As two amateur gardeners, we didn’t know where to start with tackling our large garden, so winning the competition really changed our lives. "
2. How have you found the buying process with Westminster Stone?
Customer service with Westminster Stone has been amazing. They have always quickly responded to our queries and made the process stress free.
3. What benefit did you get from using a garden designer?
Our garden is large and on different levels, therefore Dan and I struggled with visioning the garden and its potential. Sue was amazing, she helped put our ideas down on paper and came up with the perfect design for us. Despite having a large garden, we wanted the design to be as low maintenance as possible, this is something we feel Sue achieved.
4. What difficulties did you face getting a contractor to do the work?
As we won the competition during the pandemic, our biggest challenge was contractor availability and the rising cost of materials.
5. What made you choose Greyfell Sandstone Paving?
We wanted the garden to feel contemporary as well as still feeling traditional. We chose Hand-cut Greyfell Sandstone because we felt it ticked both boxes. The grey colour gave us that contemporary feel, whilst the hand-cut edge finish made the Indian Sandstone feel more natural and traditional.
6. Do you feel like it’s added value to your home?
Absolutely! Prior to our garden makeover, the garden felt big and overwhelming, now it feels stylish, contemporary, and more manageable. The garden is now a beautiful extension of our home.
7. How did you use the 5K budget?
The 5K covered Sue's design of the garden which came to £1000, 70m2 of Hand-cut Greyfell Indian Sandstone Paving which came to £2310 and £1690 leftover went towards the construction costs.
Before & After
Courtingtons Architecture & Landscape
Courtingtons work nationwide with offices in Cheshire and Oxford. They are one of a few architectural and landscape design practices that believe in the benefit of designing the architecture of your project with the landscape. They are firm believers in the philosophy that homes and workplaces feel better when we have strong links from the inside to the outside. They are forward-thinking; embracing sustainability, using biophilic design principles and where possible taking people's wellbeing into account in every design.
Sue and Jon formed Courtingtons after 20 years of working together on projects. Sue has worked for a number of renowned and respected landscape industry companies designing paving displays, exhibitions and product ranges, whilst continuing to expand her client base with many high-end domestic garden and commercial landscape design projects nationwide.
Buy Greyfell Sandstone Paving
Naturally split with a riven surface, each Ethically Sourced Hand Cut Greyfell Sandstone Paving Slab is unique in profile, colour and texture. Suited to the British climate, these natural Indian sandstone paving slabs are practical and frost resistant, they will weather to give a natural appearance enhancing your patio or path.