Case Study: Asymmetrical Back Garden Makeover

Case Study: Asymmetrical Back Garden Makeover

This back garden makeover was a joint project with Tapestry Design Studios and is an excellent example of how when a designer and landscaper collaborate from the outset, we can save time and money whilst delivering superb results.

new build back garden with lawn and paving

The garden before its makeover.
There is very little space for seating or entertaining and although the planting is lovely, the layout does nothing to invite anyone outdoors to explore further.

As you can see from the picture, this asymmetrical back garden was not meeting its potential as a useable space.  The property’s garage and driveway jutted into the garden creating and l-shaped space with  fences on all sides. Pretty planting could not disguise the fact that the layout in this garden was uninspiring and a little claustrophobic.  The narrow part of the back garden was rarely used…except as a pathway from the drive to the back door

What the client asked for

Most of all the client wanted first of all a useable garden. One that felt bigger than it is, looked bigger than it is  and where every square centimetre of space works hard. The clients are keen gardeners and wanted a space where they could “play” with plants and show them off to their best advantage.

Also on the wish list was place that felt private and could be used for relaxing, entertaining and making the most of any free time.

The challenge

Using optical illusion to make a space look and feel larger is no problem for Katie at Tapestry Design Studios.

narrow back garden with lawns, planting and small gate at the far end

Access to a garden has a bearing on how a landscaper can work. All materials and machinery needed to go in and out through this gate.
Fortunately the garden designer understands the practical aspects of landscaping and did what she could to make our life easier (and keep the costs down!)

One of the biggest challenges here was with access. Very little parking space for our trucks and a narrow entranceway meant that we were limited in our use of machinery and plant. We were also very careful to keep the noise down before 9am and after 5pm.


The design

Design is integral to a successful garden makeover and the clients, who initially approached Holland Landscapes, happily agreed to working with a garden designer.

The unusual shape of the garden was detrimental to its usability. Katie’s first design stroke was to move the back gate to give a shorter passage from the driveway to the house and to enclose the narrow part of the garden.

Katie overcame the aesthetic challenges by using circles. Circles not only make a space appear wider, they bring a softness and a fluidity to an area.

garden design showing layout for an asymmetrical garden

The new layout for this asymmetrical back garden

Also included in the design was a lawn, an area for planting, a small greenhouse, barbecue area and large seating area.  It’s incredible how many features can be included without making the space appear cramped or cluttered.

Choosing a light coloured stone with a sheen to it, in this case Silver Grey porcelain paving from London Stone helps to bounce the light around the space and negate some of the shade issues. Stone circles were edged with Marshalls Tegula Pennant Grey setts for definition and for a contrasting texture.

The build

Clearing the whole garden meant that we had a blank canvas to work with. Fortunately the site survey revealed there would be no problems with buried utilities and that the drainage was good.

circular sub base for porcelain pavers

Absolute precision is needed when working with circles. Even the slightest mistake with the symmetry will mar a design for ever – especially in a 2 story building where the garden can be viewed from above! We took a lot of care when marking up the site and kept checking and re-checking our work throughout the build.

grey porcelain pavers laid onto subbase

Laying Porcelain paving can be challenging but the Holland Landscapes team are well trained and experienced. The installation went smoothly with no broken slabs. Using setts as an edging disguised the cut surfaces beautifully.

circular base for artificial turf surrounded by porcelain paving


The soil in the garden was typical for new build homes, not a problem for hard landscaping and artificial turf but challenging for plants. Once the hard landscaping was finished we made sure that planting area had a decent depth of good quality topsoil.

The completed garden makeover

Here are a few shots of the finished work. I’m particularly proud of this transformation. It shows that quality design and workmanship can completely transform a small space into a garden that looks and feels open, airy and inviting. More importantly, the clients are extremely happy and are looking forward to spending more time outdoors.

circular paved seating area in narrow garden with artificial grass in foreground

The narrow part of the garden. The clients will be adding plants themselves.

timber pergola beside a garage with porcelain patio and artificial grass

I love how the porcelain pavers and the stone setts work together to create the illusion of greater space.
Paving joints and alignment are crucial, not just structurally but aesthetically too. It takes years of training and experience to get them just right.

semi circular artificial lawn

Although I personally prefer natural grass, I have to admit that properly laid good quality artificial turf can solve a good many problems in small gardens

You may find these articles helpful

Designing and Building a new patio 

How much does a garden makeover cost?

10 things to ask your landscaper before work begins

Need a garden makeover?

Contact Holland Landscapes for advice and a no obligation quote


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