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A courtyard garden for a 1990s-built terrace in Oxford.

The owners love a chance to relax or entertain in the garden, so they wanted a contemporary design that would be beautiful all year round.

Low-maintenance planting was key because they don't have much free time for gardening. We used a restrained palette of lush evergreen plants, including liriope and bergenia, for seasonal flowers.

Though the space is small (approx. 6m x 11m), we found space for a 4x4m sun terrace, a water wall for the soothing sound of trickling water, and a pool which spans the width of the garden, enhancing the sense of space. 

A pergola beam gives a sense of enclosure and a corten steel screen offers some protection from overlooking neighbours' windows, without boxing in the terrace.

The couple loved the orange-red finish of Corten steel, so we added two corten panels to give the space an "asymmetric symmetry" and contrast with the vibrant greens of the planting.

We also designed an under-balcony dining area, and the enlarged balcony, where we added a smoked glass and steel spiral staircase to link it to the courtyard.

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