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Outdoor living in south London

This south London garden had not been cultivated for many years, before the present owners moved in. A replanted Christmas tree had grown so large that it took over more than half the space, while the remains of a shrubbery straggled across the rear of the garden.

The new owners wanted to provide a space for their children to play in, plus an outdoor gym for daily workouts. The existing shed was to be replaced by a dedicated bike shed. Aside from this, planting was to concentrate on natives as far as possible, and wild flowers. They were also keen to minimise the amount of waste generated and to recycle materials as far as possible.

The removal of the oversized conifer immediately made the garden look twice as big, and we chipped the trunks, branches and trimmings to form the ground surface under the outdoor gym equipment. We found a number of Yorkstone paving slabs around the garden and buried in the ground and cleaned them up to use as stepping stone paths towards the rear and a pathway from the installed bike shed through the newly dug-out herb garden next to the patio.

Along the length of the fence to the left, we pruned the existing trees hard, and the very bare-looking Philadelphus then sprang to life the same year. We then planted up a native hedge, using bareroot plants. The mix of Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn), Prunus avium (wild cherry), Prunus spinosa (blackthorn), Acer campestre (field maple), Rosa canina (dog rose), Malus sylvestris (wild crab apple) and others, is designed to mature into an informal hedge with plentiful spring blossom for pollinating insects, and autumn berries to help feed the birds.

Bringing pollinators to the garden was also the aim of the wildflower sowing, as was the decision to leave the ivy clothing the rear fence: trimmed into a tidiness, but not to the extent of pruning off the flowers which appear in autumn and attract bees and late-flying butterflies at a time when there is little nectar for them to find elsewhere.

Native hedging supplied by Ashridge Nurseries, outdoor gym from Xorbars, bike shed supplied by Brighton Bike Sheds. New lawn laid by Alek Nikolic Landscape Contractors. Design and planting by The Urban Hedgerow.