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Before & After: A Modern Courtyard Garden for a Historic Home

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Before & After: A Modern Courtyard Garden for a Historic Home

September 4, 2018

For their historic home in the enclave of Clifton in Bristol, UK, an energetic couple wanted an informal landscape where their grandchildren and dogs could romp with a focus on biodiversity and sustainability. They called on landscape architecture firm Artisan Landscapes to design a dream garden, but the firm recognized that the grand Georgian-style home imposed a degree of formality on its landscape that couldn’t be ignored. As a compromise, they kept the classic formal courtyard layout and overlaid “soft, naturalistic meadow planting” to fulfill the clients’ desires for an environmentally friendly landscape that remains sensitive to the location.

Join us for a tour.

Photography courtesy of Artisan Landscapes.

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Above: “The homeowners are lucky enough to have both a front and a back garden,” say the architects, “so we could devote the entire back garden to ‘garden,’ while the front garden has a large lawn for the dogs and grandkids, a greenhouse, and informal borders of vegetables intermingled with perennials.”

The back garden, they say, is a more intimate space, “although the grandchildren love whirling about the paths.”

The sunken octagon is a focal point of the garden but was also one of the more challenging features to install. &#8
Above: The sunken octagon is a focal point of the garden but was also one of the more challenging features to install. “There was a one-meter-thick piece of limestone bedrock located under it that had to be removed to install drainage,” say the architects.

Before

The courtyard had a generous footprint, but the neglected landscape was uninspiring.
Above: The courtyard had a generous footprint, but the neglected landscape was uninspiring.

After

An antique urn is a focal point in the garden. For more inspiration, see Landscaping: 8 Ideas to Add Antiques Artfully to Any Garden.
Above: An antique urn is a focal point in the garden. For more inspiration, see Landscaping: 8 Ideas to Add Antiques Artfully to Any Garden.
A long, slim reflecting pool is one of two major water features in the project. &#8
Above: A long, slim reflecting pool is one of two major water features in the project. “They have a combined volume of five thousand cubic liters,” say the architects, and both are controlled by pumps on remote-control switches.
Salvia surrounds the pool. For everything you need to know about growing it, see Salvia: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
Above: Salvia surrounds the pool. For everything you need to know about growing it, see Salvia: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
Adding the water features &#8
Above: Adding the water features “took a considerable amount of engineering and planning,” but it was worth it for the calming effect they have on the entire landscape.
A row of antique copper spouts feed into the fountain.
Above: A row of antique copper spouts feed into the fountain.
A row of pleached hornbeam trees adds structure to the perimeter.
Above: A row of pleached hornbeam trees adds structure to the perimeter.

See Landscaping 101: Pleached Trees for tips to grow and train hornbeams and crabapple trees.

Astilbe softens the edges of the concrete pavers. The stones were existing and not the designers&#8
Above: Astilbe softens the edges of the concrete pavers. The stones were existing and not the designers’ first choice for material, “but they’ve weathered beautifully with age,” they say.
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Above: “The homeowners love sitting out together, wandering about the garden, and spending time gardening there.”

Laying out a new garden or updating a hardscape element in an existing landscape? Start with our curated guides to Garden Design 101, including Decks & Patios and Fences & Gates. More inspiring courtyards:

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