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title. Backyard to Courtyard

date. 2021-22

location. Northumberland

The Brief : The backyard of the clients' home was their only private outdoor space, but even then they are overlooked by houses on the other side of the back alley way. They wanted a space in which they could sit, work, socialise, and relax. They particularly liked the Moroccan style and already had items and patterns in their home that were reminiscent of this. They were not afraid of colour either in the planting or on the walls. They did enjoy plants, but could often be away for periods of time meaning that plants in small pots were difficult for them to maintain. 

The Plan

Key to the agreed plan was to create rendered raised beds which were the preference of the clients, and to also take up all the concrete and lay bound gravel. Bound gravel is used mainly for people's drives and under-utilised for places such as back yards. It looks like small gravel that is set and whilst it doesn't look porous, if the proper sub-base is installed, then you can pour a hose onto it, and it won't puddle - it just drains away. 

If the client had not opted for this, and had gone for paving, then the drainage would have been complex as the lowest drainage point is in the bottom right of the plan and everything would have had to drain to this point, or otherwise install drains elsewhere that drained to this point.

This yard had never drained out of the back gate onto the back alley way, and that should not be changed. By installing Bound gravel, meant that the area could be level.

The other key point was colour; to make a nod to Morocco we decided on a chalk white for the outer walls and raised beds apart from the back wall, which the house looked onto, which we did in an electric blue colour. The floor (under the Olive tree) also had a section that was tiled. 

The final element was water. It was agreed that we install a wall mounted water feature between two raised beds. On plan this seemed simple, the reality was somewhat more complex because we realised after installation that the wind eddies around the yard at times, sending the water in many directions. It therefore limits when the water feature can be used - you live and learn!



Its amazing what a bit of design can achieve! In this space we fitted a full sized dining area, small informal seating area by the back door, water feature, bin store for 3 bins, log store, and a shed that has turned into an outdoor office since it was installed. You can even see in one of these pictures that we did not forget to include a washing line! Practical but beautiful. 

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