Wildlife Garden for a Grown Up Family

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Wildlife Garden for a Grown Up Family


A wildlife garden for a couple with older children.  A place to explore. A place to contemplate. A place to feel a part of nature.

Client Brief

This Buckinghamshire family wanted to bring an element of nature and wilderness to their garden while maintaining a fairly sharp contemporary look. With a keen interest in wildlife and the conservation of natural habitats, they hoped for a garden that would be a haven to be shared with the many visiting guests, whether that be their large extended family or the multitude of birds and insects that are native to their local area.


As a decent size garden surrounded by a healthy mature Yew hedge and a relatively flat landscape, the space had great potential and adequate room to allow for a variety of uses.   

The clients requested a large patio area which could comfortably accommodate a significant number of guests as well as a smaller more intimate area from which to sit and enjoy the garden. They asked for a pond to help attract insects and amphibians and were also open to the idea of including other natural features that would enhance the attractiveness of the garden to wildlife.


Although they wanted to have a number of areas that would be dedicated to attracting wildlife, they felt it important to emphasise that they didn’t want an entirely wild garden. The garden still needed to be functional, with standard practical elements included in the design, such as compost areas, log stores and a place for the dustbins. Additionally, they wanted the design to have a fairly clean modern feel. This would be particularly relevant for any hard landscape features. Yet, they deemed it important that the two potentially opposing styles sit together comfortably.

Design Process

The garden in its original form provided a fairly blank canvas. The slight slope from the North East corner to the South West corner could be dealt with fairly easily within a wildlife garden. By using occasional steps, easy sloping paths and graded planting areas, the incline would not be too noticeable.  

One main consideration was the garden’s northerly aspect. This meant that the planting around the house would need to be carefully considered. A combination of hardy shrubs and herbaceous material which would be comfortable in potentially wet and shady conditions would be appropriate for the area.


In terms of creating a natural habitat a number of features should be considered. The clients asked for a pond, which would help entice the local wildlife, but other elements could be brought in to add interest and variety. These would include a bog garden, which would link to the pond and comprise of marginal planting. A small woodland area, planted with only native trees and beautiful natural woodland plants and a wildflower meadow. This combination of elements should attract a wide range of birds and insects and provide an interesting variety of natural spaces to explore.  

In stating their preference for a more clean modern design it seemed appropriate for the pond to be rectangular and edged with sharp machine shawn natural stone pavers. Yet, they wanted wildlife to be able to access the pond, meaning small animals and amphibians would need to be able easily move in and out of the water. The hard edge of the paved rectangular pond could make this difficult. So the pond was cleverly designed to link to the bog garden via the space between the stepping stones. This meant that the pond retained the clean sharp feel of the paved rectangle, yet fed water through the stepping stones to the natural edged bog garden. The pond and bog garden would mutually feed and filter each other while any wildlife that may find it’s way into the formal pond could escape via the bog garden.


Final Design

This highly successful scheme provides a harmonious amalgam of natural interest and strong precise design. The use of native trees and naturalised planting add to the sense of place and help the garden sit sympathetically within its environment. The woodland corner, wildflower meadow, pond and bog garden provide a wealth of different habitats for the visiting wildlife. The large patio, hardwood deck and comfortable seating area below the pergola, provide ample opportunity for the family and guests to relax and enjoy the wonderfully varied and colourful spectacle.        



Wildlife Garden Design in Buckinghamshire - 3D elevation   

The axonometric drawing highlights the juxtaposition between the more naturalistic features aimed at attracting wildlife and the sharp cleans lines of the hardscaped functional spaces. The simple understated design of the hardwood pergola allows it to sit comfortably within the space. The stepping stones between the pond and bog garden allow the garden user to feel immersed in the lush foliage of the marginal planting and the rich vibrancy of the indigenous pond life.  Each aspect of the design process has been carefully considered to create a highly effective balance of soft and hard materials. The intelligently designed scheme allows all garden users to share the space harmoniously. 


Wildlife Garden Design in Buckinghamshire - Plants