Landscape Design for London and Urban Gardens.

Designing for London Gardens

In London and city gardens, elements such as planting, screening, lighting and entertaining spaces play a key part in any scheme. Here our Landscape Design team share their insights on what to consider when designing an urban garden to get the most out of.


Big Picture Design Thinking.

In a city garden, we often think of dressing the spaces as one would an interior room. With typically a smaller space to work with, it is worth maximising every corner and creating a holistic relationship between the indoor and outdoor living. This will help the spaces feel bigger than the parts and enable a natural flow from the house to outside. We consider the sun’s path across the day when thinking about entertaining and seating spaces and like to understand our clients’ lifestyle to design the more practical and logistical aspects, such as discrete storage, children’s play areas and where to place utilities such as bins and any washing areas.

Designing for London Gardens
Screening trees Camilla Japonica
Create depth with lush borders
A London garden with a feature pod seat for quiet contemplation even in the city


When it comes to designing for London gardens, the planting scheme is crucial. We use contrasting foliage, height, and seasonal flowers to build colour and textures across the year. Evergreens such as the Lily Turf (Liriope) work well in shady borders, and are low maintenance, which gives delicate purple flowers in autumn, or Sweet Box (Sarcococca Confusa), which has fantastically scented creamy-white flowers in winter, followed by black berries. A variety of Japanese Maples (Acer trees) are also suitable for shady spots and can provide spectacular autumn displays.

shades of greens build texture & depth
Contrasting foliage & heights
Designing for London Gardens
ferns work well in shady spots
Designing for London Gardens
Japanese Maple & Sculpture feature

Screening and Privacy.

Designing for privacy can be important, so we plant screening trees such as the Camilla Japonica, which has glossy evergreen leaves and blooms of white or pink flowers in spring, or the Osmanthus Burkwoodii, another fantastic and low maintenance dense evergreen shrub, which can be pruned to show off their amazing multi-stem shapes.  Both for privacy and shade, tree ferns are wonderfully dramatic and create a textured canopy – the Dicksonia Antartica, works brilliantly as a backdrop to a seating area and cosy firepit in the winter. Just remember to water the trunks (their root systems) and wrap their crowns in winter to prevent damage from frost in colder months.


Tree Ferns as a screening canopy
Dicksonia Antartica Fern Trees
screening a city garden

Water Features & Garden Sculptures.

Water features are great for creating interest, as well as for softening traffic and peripheral noise, and a sculpture or art piece can be a really striking visual addition to the garden, enjoyed from inside the home too.

HollandGreen Water Feature
contemporary water feature
A Water Rill in a London garden
fern tree & garden sculpture adds interest

Garden & Outdoor Lighting.

A well-thought-out landscape lighting scheme will bring gardens to life when the sun sets and add a whole new dimension to outside living spaces. Using a mix of ambient, spot and up lighting not only extends the enjoyment but can also make the garden safer and more secure. Lighting sculptures and specimen trees can also be very dramatic and impressive, and now there is a great variety of solar-powered lanterns options too to dress seating spaces much like an internal space.

up-lighting in borders
spot lights extend the view at night into the garden
Lighting design extends the indoor outdoor living

Supporting Biodiversity & the Ecology of the Garden.

Even in a city garden, there are lots of ways to increase the biodiversity of the site and support wildlife.  By integrating a mix of native and non-domestic plant species of differing colours and flowering times, it’s possible to attract a wide variety of pollinators and bees, even in the winter, as honeybees don’t hibernate. Many of these plants are not only very attractive to insects, but also contain lots of different shapes, seedheads and colours to keep things interesting in your garden throughout the year. Similarly a mix of tree species and heights will attract and support bird habitats, and we always like to encourage our clients to include a hedgehog house or gaps in the shrubbery for them to pass through.

flowers as pollinators
colours & scents to encourage insects
an urban garden creating height with seating area

What’s Next?

Follow us on our Landscapes Instagram page to see more of our recent designs and completed projects.

Whether you’re looking to transform your outdoor space or design an imaginative new build home or extension that links seamlessly to the surrounding grounds, we can work with you to create a space that is unique to your property and lifestyle.

As a Studio of architects, interior designers & landscape designers, we bring award-winning projects to life while taking a seamless and holistic approach to each design.