The 'Transparent' Urban Garden

While living in a town or city undoubtedly has its advantages, there is almost always a lack of space. Here we have some design ideas aimed at creating a sense of privacy and space in a small garden or patio, providing an oasis of light and transparency where you can forget the daily hustle and bustle.

A design around the basic elements of space, balance and symmetry is a good starting point for an urban garden. Use subtle colours and basic paving, and plants whose foliage will filter the light as well as screen off the garden from the street and neighbours. Moreover, in choosing plants, remember that the garden should be attractive all year round with a minimum of work.

A Clean Slate
Before you can start, most urban gardens will need a good spring clean. Remove old plants and, if you want to do the job properly, sift bedding soil through to remove all debris. Then add some new topsoil and enrich it with manure. Now take a good look at your 'clean slate'.

First Things First - The Design
Draw up your design around the measurements of the garden, with privacy and tranquillity as your inspiration. Height differences will add a beautiful perspective to the garden and optimise the sense of space. Trellises overgrown with Ivy are a perfect way of fencing off the garden and symmetry works wonders: however subtle, it brings instant balance to a garden design. A mirror repetition of certain elements (plants, trees, pots) will bring unity to your concept.

The Green Structure
For a garden that is attractive all year round, start with evergreens to give your garden structure. Buxus, Bay, Japanese Maple and Bamboo will contribute a light, almost transparent look. Use plants with different types of foliage, from strong to fragile, tough and furry, and colours varying from lime to bottle green, so that foliage plants are never dull. Once again, the various foliage will also filter the light in different ways to add to your desired element of translucency.

Choose Colours with Care
Restricting your flower pallet to one colour will enhance the tranquillity of the garden, but do introduce variation with your flower shapes. By avoiding colour contrasts the shapes of the flowers will get full attention. Lilies, Brugmansia, African Lily (Agapanthus africanus), Geranium, Hydrangea, Hostas and Anemones are all good choices.

Slabs, Cobbles and Bricks
When paving an urban garden, using old building materials is a good idea. It adds a sense of playfulness and also fits in with the idea of emphasising shape rather than colour. In addition, old materials instantly give a newly created garden a lovely mature look that will do much to generate the air of calm that you seek.

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