Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Aquarium Garden, A garden design project by David Keegan Garden Design, Sandbach East Cheshire North West UK

The Aquarium Garden

I am calling this the aquarium garden as the main focus here is the inclusion of an outdoor aquarium. I believe this may be a first in the UK, if not the west, where an outdoor aquarium is built in a domestic garden. Of course there is so much more to this project but the wow will always be the aquarium, and as one of the clients said they will, if they ever decide to move home in the future, sell an Aquarium with a free house attached.
How this cam about. The clients already had a large Koi pond which was at the very far end of the garden, the area where the hot tub enclosure is now located and the old pond filled and turned into a raised screening bed with bamboo. The problem, although the pond was situated near the hidden garden office it was far removed from any connection with the garden or house. As the clients were building an extension to the house which would in turn have french doors leading onto an area that would form a seating terrace they wanted the pond moved to this area, and then it struck me so many people keep fish in ponds in their gardens but 95% of th time have no view iof therm. This seemed to me a wasted opportunity, "what about an outdoor aquarium" i said, not thinking they would ever go for it, but they did, so now they have the UK's first outdoor domestic Aquarium. The pictures will tell the rest but me personally i could sit and watch the fish all day!

The Front Garden

First things first though lets start at the front garden.................

I drew inspiration for the design of these gates from traditional English country gates, but adding a second curved rail. This gate is handmade in English Oak, with Oak posts, York Stone pier caps, set onto reclaimed Cheshire brick piers.

Framing the gates and entrance are 2 Acer griseum a particular favorite of mine for year round interest.

The new steps leading to the front entrance are now framed with the addition of 6 uniform box balls

Detail York Stone cap cut to fit Oak gate post 

Steps leading to gate.. Originally the gate and path did not line up with the door, my designs saw the gate, steps and path moved to align with the front door making for a more dynamic and centered entrance-way

A mid size split hazel hurdle fence is fitted to the perimeter lawn and hedge both for aesthetics and practicality, helping to keep the clients dog Teddy safely inside the confines of the gardens 

Curved York Stone path and box balls lead from the garages and drive to front entrance

Side view of front featuring authentic  diamond-sawn York Stone Paving with granite cobble edging, whilst 2 wall beds are planted with a climbing Hydrangea, (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) perfectly suited to shady areas. This will add softness texture and colour to the front of the house.
 2 Hunza copper walls light frame the door

Design detail Hunza Copper Wall light

Weeping pear tree (Pyrus salicifolia) planted as homage to the name of the house, Pear Tree Cottage

Beautiful hazel hurdle split face fenc,e inset into custom made English Oak posts, now separates the front and back gardens making the space more adventurous with more to discover and journey through.

A view over front garden fence to mid point platform

The devil is in the detail, and a metal inspection lid is far more attractive to the eye than a plastic one. This picture also shows off some of the rich coloring found in authentic English York Stone

Bespoke hazel hurdle gate framed in English Oak.

Oak gate post leading to back gardens

A first view of inter-planted deck. This handmade Oak deck is inter-planted with 4 Axcer griseum forming a framing avenue from the Aquarium terrace and down the garden.

The Aquarium Terrace

The wow factor. The Aquarium with 2 inset viewing portals beautifully constructed in block reclaimed Cheshire brick York Stone lintels and copings. The internal hidden frame is construed of steel,  and clad in York stone, due to the considerable weight and pressure of the water

The stars of the show. The fish tank can also be viewed when sitting inside the new house extension as well as enjoyed when sitting on the terrace.

One the real joys, the fish have become more curious and and less timid since being moved to their new home, and seem as curious of us humans as we of them. On entering the terrace they will swim to the front of the glass peering out.

The pond is located to the gardens boundary with open countryside adding to the dynamic wow factor!

Seating with a view

Wall separating the aquarium terrace from the inter-planted platform.

Water blade adds sound to the terrace

Inter planted deck

Once again form meets function, i designed this area primarily to disguise a very large and unsightly gas tank which could not be moved and was above ground level so not easily disguised. The joiner made a very nice inspection trap door maintaining access to the tank. The decks are handmade from English Oak and are already silvering to a wonderful bone color. 

Handmade Inset inspection hatch

View from viewing platform to inter-planted deck and water blade in Aquarium terrace

Acers will provide a fiery glow in the Autumn 

Planting bed to edge of platform will soften and add colour to entryway from side gate.

Mid Point Deck Platform

Again form follows function the platform deck serves 2 functions in its form the first hiding an above ground cess pit another landmark that could not be moved and secondly its elevated position allows for spectacular view and backdrop of open countryside and fields

A view over the garden fence


Platform built to a level whilst the boardwalk leading from the inter-planted deck to hot tub enclosure gentles slopes to meet the fall in level.

Design detail inset Hunza copper Led marker light

 View from hot tub enclosure to inter planted terrace and aquarium terrace.

The Hot Tub Enclosure

View down the boardwalk to viewing  platform and hot tub enclosure with Sedum green roof

Western Red Cedar Hot tub designed into this location as its the area of garden that affords the most privacy and shelter.

The enclosure is added over the Hot Tub to give some protection from the elements I.E. rain as this is after all the North West of England. It also makes more of a feature of the facility. Given the designed in addition of the green Sedum roof the frame posts and top supporting framework are constructed of steel girders and clad with Oak for Aesthetic.

Design detail Inset Copper Hunza deck light.

What was the old fish pond is now transformed into a raised planting bed of bamboo which will help to disguise and soften the boundary conifers and blend sympathetically with the lat fence.

Green Sedum roof Hot Tub Enclosure

Detail, beautifully framed outdoor light switch

Copper lantern by Boom lighting

View across newly laid lawns to hot tub enclosure.

Please join me over the coming years as i chart the progress of the gardens as they mature and mellow with age.

Clients testimonial

Having moved to Pear Tree Cottage over 5 years ago myself and my partner decided we would extend the property to give us a new lounge and master bedroom to take advantage of the superb views over to Mow Cop in Cheshire
We worked tirelessly with Architects and I was very clear on what I wanted to achieve when it came to the house layout and design. After 12 months of refused permissions and several iterations to the plans we finally got the permission granted to allow us to proceed with the building works.
The garden was to be worked on at a later stage once the building was almost complete. Before we have always had a very standard and fairly bland garden. It was a real mess to start with but over 5 years we had made it our own with some pretty planting, baskets, and a new fence and gazebo giving a place to dine outside. I had also built a fish pond to start my new hobby of keeping Koi Carp  - the only place was out of sight at the far end of the garden. My hobby had taken off with the fish and I wanted to keep them.
The new house was going to have quite a wow factor and the garden really didn't match up at all now - the temptation to do a lawn and flower beds needed to be quashed.
I decided I needed help - I couldn't visualise the garden at all so started to search for a designer. After trawling websites I found David Keegan. He had won awards and really told a story of how he has helped design and bring other gardens to life. I made contact by email initially and David took it from there.
My brief was vague to start with ...... Fish pond had to stay ..... we wanted a dining area.... and we needed to garden to be safe for Teddy and private for us. I also mentioned the idea of a hot tub for my partner but could not really visualise how all of this would come together. I also wanted something that would mature well and be easy to maintain.
David's first site visit was to take the brief. His consultative approach was a pleasant surprise as I expected the garden design process to mirror the perfunctory approach we had experienced with the architects. He took time to fully appreciate how we would be using each room in the house and what we wanted to achieve with the extension. David spent time detailing how we would want to use the garden and what is important to us.
David took me through endless photos and watched carefully my reactions and responses and then went away to come up with his first plans. David had magically included all of my 'wants' into a garden that flowed and complimented the house perfectly.
There were trees! Lots of them! I was worried there would be too many at first but as the house became more interesting after the building works then the garden needed structure, texture, and new dimensions. It was morphing on paper!. There was a hot tub and areas to sit and relax. The garden was also safe for our dog - a key point that had been taken on board.The most exciting aspect for me was the pond! I would be able to see the fish from the lounge!
David pushed the boundaries and made us be much more daring. He realised that the house was being done to a high specification and the garden needed to match. What we now have is a garden that is worthy of an award and will only improve with the years
 David has a great personality and his passion is clear and I have to say infectious. The garden design became as important as the house design and wow .... it has paid off. The garden is now a place to relax and enjoy ourselves. We have had endless compliments and take great pride in what has been achieved. We owe our thanks to David for this.
A true professional and someone we would recommend in a heartbeat.

A few pictures of what the gardens looked like before the redesign

To see the before pictures of this project click on this link underlined below

This post its contents and pictures is the copyrighted property of David Keegan Garden Design 2015 ©

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