The Doyle family garden was mainly lawn and home to a wooden climbing frame and a large trampoline. Their three children had outgrown this outdoor playground by the time the 2020 lockdown arrived, which gave Becky Doyle and her husband chance to rethink the space and realise their dream of a garden room.
The Doyles had been thinking about making major changes to their garden for some time and the 2020 lockdown gave them the push to get started.
“Neither my husband or I are very knowledgeable when it comes to gardening and plants, but we knew we wanted more from the garden as it wasn’t being used to its full potential,” she said. “It was mainly grass, an old shed, and the children’s unused play equipment which we wanted to re-home as they’d outgrown it. There was no focal point and no colour.”
Becky continued: “We just didn’t know where to start and we knew we needed help to bring our ideas to life.”
After doing some initial online research, and knowing that she wanted to use a local garden designer, Becky was introduced to Joyce by a mutual friend.
Joyce came out to visit the garden and meet the Doyles. After listening to what they were hoping to achieve, designs were drawn up and plans were made. They knew they wanted to include a garden room in the design and Joyce was able to introduce them to a trusted associate who designed and custom-built them a unique, versatile space. The rest of the ground work was completed by local contractors.
“The garden room has given us so much flexible space. My husband uses it daily when working from home and also as a space to exercise. The children use it for movie nights and sleepovers and we all use it for socialising with friends. It’s amazing to have the extra living space.
“Not long after we moved in 14 years ago, we had a patio laid directly outside the house as a temporary measure. Joyce designed a plan to extend this and added interest by introducing
a step so that the garden was on two levels. “We would never have thought of that,” said Becky.
The family also realised they were missing out on the evening sun that bathed the other end of the garden where the old shed and trampoline had been situated.
“Joyce designed a second patio for us there,” said Becky, giving us the perfect area for a barbeque and dining area.
When it came to plants, Becky knew the colour schemes she wanted and her brief was for low-maintenance, robust plants that would be easy to look after: “I created a Pinterest Board which I shared with Joyce. It included images of the style of planting I liked and a colour scheme which mainly consisted of purples, white and lots of greenery. Joyce then did a nursery order for us. What was really helpful was that Joyce arranged to be onsite when the plants were delivered, to count and check the order. I wouldn’t have had any idea on the number of plants to order to get the effect that we wanted. Joyce also placed each plant where it needed to be so all we had to do was plant and water them.”
Joyce also took Becky to visit an established garden that she had worked on previously so she could get ideas for how the garden would mature and to see features in situ, which was a great help when it came to choosing materials.
Becky continued: “We also loved the fact that Joyce introduced us to new materials that we would otherwise never have thought of. One was Corten steel, a metal with an intentional rusty look, which we have used in a few different areas of the garden. Another was meadow turf that is very low maintenance and gives us the natural wildflower-look that we wanted.
“No one can believe the garden is the same space, because it looks much bigger even though there is an additional garden room and a path leading up the middle of the garden to reach it.
“I really enjoyed working with Joyce because I felt she really understood what we wanted. She understood what we were trying to achieve.
“The family now has a space everyone can use all year round.
“My husband thinks it’s the best thing we’ve ever done and we would never have achieved it without Joyce’s help.”