From Suburban Drab to Garden Fab: Garden Transformation Idea
In the autumn 2023 issue of the much-beloved gardening magazine The Irish Garden, the featured renovation was a modern, minimalist, nature-led venture completed by the exceptional designers over at Gardens Forever.
Dave and his team took on a challenging suburban cry for privacy, seclusion, and a family-friendly merging of interior design with exterior space. The results, as you can see for yourself, were stunning.
Here at Tile Merchant, we are exceptionally proud to have supplied some of the key materials Gardens Forever chose to use in their ambitious design and build. In this article, we hope to give you a quick tour of the thought process which went into this renovation so that you may come away inspired to transform your own outdoor space. Let’s dive in!
The Design Process
When we spoke to Dave over at Gardens Forever, one of the key things he pointed out about any garden redesign is marrying the customer’s requirements with the physical space.
This takes a lot of careful consideration to get right, and according to Dave should always factor in the existing natural beauty of the space – be that trees, sunlight at certain times of the day, or the angles and lines of the garden boundaries.
In the case of this absolutely gorgeous redesign in Castleknock, Dublin, Dave’s client gave him a few specific requirements:
- The garden had to be family-friendly
- The garden had to be fairly low maintenance and accessible year-round
- The garden had to match the interior design of the home
- The garden had to feel secluded and private
- The garden had to feel like a fluid extension of the home interior, whilst simultaneously embracing and elevating the natural aspects often overlooked in urban settings
Some of these requirements Gardens Forever knew how to meet.
Low maintenance meant plants that were easy to care for and an artificial lawn which would never need mowed.
Family-friendly meant the design of the garden should include a little something for everyone. Seclusion, privacy, and year-round usability meant blocking the neighbours’ view into the garden whilst providing a warm and dry space for those bad weather days.
However, other requirements would require deeper consideration, such as how to overcome the awkward L-shape of the space whilst making a fairly narrow area feel open and expansive, and whilst adhering to the home’s modern and minimalist aesthetic.
For this, the folks at Gardens Forever knew it would all come down to the materials they used.
Picking the perfect materials for the transformation
It’s easy to think that the most important part of a garden redesign project lies in the design stage.
After all, it’s here that you’ll decide the new look of the garden: how you move through it, which spaces will be used for what purpose, and so on.
And yet, design isn’t everything. In fact, a great deal of the end result rests on which materials are used during the building stage.
Materials like tiles, artificial lawns, garden décor, and accessories all contribute hugely to the final look, feel, and practicality of a garden.
Home improvement projects like the one undertaken by Gardens Forever in Castleknock (Dublin) must be accompanied by high-quality products if they are to achieve their full potential.
Let’s take a look at the products Dave and the team used to achieve their transformation of an empty and tired Dublin backyard into a luscious green and secluded family haven.
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Outdoor porcelain tiles
The Gardens Forever turned to who else but Tile Merchant for their tiling needs on this project.
They knew that to match the gorgeous minimalist aesthetic of their client’s interior design, they needed a sleek, crisp, neutral-tone outdoor tile for the new patio. And so they opted for a light-grey outdoor 20mm porcelain tile from the Tile Merchant range.
Specifically, they chose a large format 120x60cm outdoor porcelain tile because they knew that longer lines would trick the eye into feeling like the garden was a bigger, more open space than the area actually afforded.
The Gardens Forever team knew that porcelain is a perfect material for modern, family-friendly patios because it is super durable, naturally slip- and frost-resistant, and really easy to maintain, without requiring any sealant or extensive after care.
Moreover, porcelain is a great vehicle for a range of different finishes, including natural stone, marble, and even wood.
Ultimately, the choice of a light-grey outdoor porcelain tile for the Castleknock patio is what really binds this whole interior-exterior modern-minimalist redesign together.
Dave’s client wanted their new garden to be as low maintenance as possible, whilst recapturing the beauty of the natural world absent from their urban setting.
As a man with a keen eye for design and years of experience in the game, Dave knew exactly the material for the job: artificial grass.
Safe for families and super easy to keep clean, fresh, and looking just like the real deal, artificial lawns are a no-brainer for the redesign which demands longevity and easy maintenance.
Privacy was a particular issue when it came to this garden redesign, since several neighbouring windows looked directly over the fence and into the client’s garden.
What’s more, there was no obvious way to make the garden a year-round space. This is where the inclusion of a deluxe aluminium Pergola came in.
Pergolas have adjustable roofs which allow you to open the slats on sunny days and close them during rain or snow.
Couple one of these with some tasteful garden furniture, some natural stone paving, and a cosy patio heater to keep you and your guests comfortable on chilly nights, and the pergola achieved several of the client’s redesign requirements in a oner.
Paired with some pleached oak trees and tall shrubs, the view into the client’s garden was finally blocked and nature encouraged to blossom.
Pebbles and kerbs
And now for the finishing touches. One of Dave’s core focuses of the redesign-and-build was to include lots of different, low-maintenance plants and flowers around the boundaries of the garden.
Of course, raised flower beds need something practical and attractive to demarcate and protect them from the rest of the outdoor space.
This is where something as simple (yet also as stunning) as a granite kerb can work wonders.
Similarly grey in hue to the outdoor porcelain tiles Gardens Forever had already used, kerbs like ours can really help to tie all of the other intricate design details of a garden like this together.
Lastly, Dave and the team wanted to add a twist of variety to the redesign, by building a gravel pathway from the side of the house to the back garden.
For this, they needed some gorgeous and practical pebbles or gravel – something that would look great but also add texture and sound to the garden approach; creating a sense of heightened calm and tranquillity when the visitor then stepped silently onto the patio and artificial grass round the back.
What tips did Dave from Gardens Forever have for marrying a customer's requirements with the physical space in a garden redesign?
According to Dave from Gardens Forever, marrying a customer's requirements with the physical space in a garden redesign takes a lot of careful consideration to get right.
He emphasized that it should always factor in the existing natural beauty of the space, such as trees, sunlight at certain times of the day, or the angles and lines of the garden boundaries.
Redesigning your outdoor space doesn’t have to require a massive upheaval.
Simple changes can be made to great effect, such as introducing a pergola for privacy and all-weather enjoyment, utilising the long lines of large-format porcelain, or removing the stress of garden maintenance with the right artificial lawn.
By taking time to consider how best to transform your particular outdoor space, you too can bring the comfort and style of your indoors into the outdoors.
Just be sure to pay equal attention to the materials you choose to use as you do to your garden’s overall redesign. Huge thanks to the team at Gardens Forever in Dublin for all of their wonderful work!
For more inspiration, dive into our extensive range of outdoor tiles, paving slabs, pergolas, artificial grass, and garden accessories online, or pop into one of Tile Merchant's showrooms to discover the potential of Tile Merchant products for yourself. Now go get creative!
Why Tile Merchant?
We offer extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise. We stock a huge range of wall and floor tiles and our prices are competitive for retail and trade. Our stock is widely available in our tile stores in Dublin and Ashbourne (Co. Meath) which are open 7 days a week.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shop our tiles online, we can supply you with samples delivered for free.
Article written by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. He runs the storytelling podcast "Stories from the Hearth" and lives in a wee Glasgow Flat with his partner and their cat".