Yard with patio and plants


Free quotes for the makeover of urban yards


We design and install traditional and contemporary urban yard makeovers in and around Carlisle, Wigton, Brampton, the North Lakes, the Eden Valley and along the Solway Coast, as well as parts of south-west Scotland and east-Northumbria. Other projects further into the Lake District, Scotland and Northumbria are welcomed and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

We provide free quotes with no obligation for all urban yard design and landscaping projects.


Traditional townhouse and terraced house backyards here in the north can be among the trickiest to design and visualise due to their usual size and generally basic outline. For almost all the same reasons, they can also be the most exciting and satisfying to transform into something resembling a welcoming, softer garden of some form.

Most city living terraced houses have  small to medium sized areas of land as yards, while some are particularly small. Most homeowners wrestle with how to make the most of their modest space - spaces which are all too often neglected and unwelcoming.

Size doesn't matter. There is a solution, design and vision for all size yards. All overlooked back yards can be transformed into an outdoor oasis thoroughly enjoyable to use; carving out a little green space from what was a dull brown area of neglected land.


Back yards, when tranformed to what we might consider gardens, need to be lots of things at the same time in their modest space. An outdoor area beyond a terraced house to be used to house plants, provide space to relax, eat and drink, have facilities to dry clothes, have yet more space to store bins, recycling and even bikes.

This is why they need clever, innovative designs to make them fit for purpose. Use of minimal but impactful design techniques and repeating patterns are popular for maximum effect.

We are keen to encourage homeowners to think of their yard as an extension of the home; an extra room to be proud of which can be utilised in different ways throiughout the year. As such, it is often helpful to apply the same principles as interior design to modest sized yards.

Conversely, be careful not to think of a yard too much as one would a traditional garden. They require a different type of vision and thinking. A feature focal point is crucial in most yards, otherwise the onlooker will be left to stare at the restrictions its boundary imposes. 

Keep It Simple

It's wise to accept a yard's limitations at becoming a garden, and seek to turn every perceived disadvantage into a virtue. For example, if a yard is dark and damp, use beautiful ferns and cascading foliage which will thrive in the conditions and create an enchanting effect. If soil is absent, use pots and containers.

Play With Scale

Small yards are, well, small. This doesn't necessarily mean they have to be filled with small things, in fact, counter-intuitively, the opposite is often true.

Spaces with tall boundaries and low light levels are known to make everything seem smaller and gloomier, so it may be wise to think BIG. Doing this can create the illusion of space by using larger than natural pavers, and complimenting them with a sequence of bold, architectural plants with strong and distinctive shapes both in their leaf form and in their overall growth pattern.

Understand A Yard's Use

We all value our outdoor space for different reasons – whether it be for practical purposes such as drying clothes or growing vegetables; for recreational reasons such as entertaining and socialising or playing with balls and toys; or all of those things.

It's important to ensure a yard-to-garden transformation plan seeks to accommodate its key requirements as a priority.

Borrow For Neighbours

If you are fortunate to have a yard located between others which have enviable features, it's worth considering how they casn be 'borrowed' and used to your own advantage.

Similarly, if there is a park or open vista of any nature beyond a yard's boundary, consider how it can best utilised visually to full effect from within. For example, by creating a ‘window’ or gap in a wall. 

Diffuse The Wind

Despite being surrounded by tall buildings and other structures, typical terraced yards can suffer badly from wind. The surroundings of a yard create a wind-tunnel effect, causing discomfort when using the area and causing leaves to swirl and ultimately settle on a windy day.

Create Focal Points

Great, expansive gardens offer great vistas, leading the eye to a point, and suggesting there is something worthwhile beyond it; creating the belief that a space is larger than it is.  In principle, the same rules apply to the smallest pof gardens. For example, a straight path which leads directly to a destination at the other end of a garden has a literal impact on the eye. Conversely, a curved, meandering or diagonal path take the eye on a longer, more interesting journey, creating an illusion of greater scale before reaching the destination focal point.

Focal points from the vantage of the rooms with windows or doors which look out onto a garden are every bit as important. What is visible and prominent when looking out onto the garden from the kitchen window?

Let There Be Light

A garden lacking in light can be a real drawback. As northerners, when using an outside space, we long for a warm, sun-drenched garden - whereas shade is not valued or cherised in quite the same way. If a garden is too dark, gloomy and shrouded in shade, it is important to determine whether anything can be done to change it. What is the source of the shade? What is blocking natural sunlight entering a garden?

If it is due to trees or hedges belonging to neighbours, would they be willing to compromise and reduce their height for your benefit? It may be something in your control, such as a wall or fence. Would making changes to these boundaries adversely affect the privacy of the garden?

Beyond removing structures or items which are blocking light, there are other tricks and techniques which can be used to draw light. For example, strategically placed reflective materials such as glass, mirror, metal and polished stone can increase the light and brightness of a garden.

Making use of lighter colours throughout the garden is another way to reduce the darkness and reflect light - although be aware of the risk of discolouration to lighter colours over time.

As well as trying to optimise natural light, wonders can be achieved with the appropriate use of mains lighting. The right lighting installed in the right places can transform the ambience of a garden in late afternoon, early evening and into the night.

Uplighters are particularly effective if located beneath trees, shrubs or other shapely fixtures. More magically, fairly lights can add a sense of charm and allurte. And of course, solar powered lighting is now a popular solution, but are only really effective in the right circumstances and conditions. 

Plant Carefully

In a modest yard-cum-garden space, the choice of every single plant should be thought through and worthy of its place. It will depend on the style being created, but evergreens are always a fine choice, though there are many more suitable options which can be deployed in the right conditions.

The key is to think vertically as well as horizontally; where typically boundary structures can be used to host upward climbers such as roses, clematis, hydrangea and petiolaris to name a few. Depending on the specific shape and size of a space, use of trees should always be considered.

Compact or columnar hybrids are options worth investigating, as well as certain types of malus, sorbus and acer. Conifers have a tendency to be dense and oppressive if not carefully sculpted to maintain a shape suitable for the space in which they sit. Shrubs can tolerate more shaded conditions, and ferns are an obvious choice for their natural beauty and resilience.

Overall, the planting scheme for a yard-garden is key. It must conform with the design style as well as sitting comfortably with the level of maintenance the owner if prepared to offer.

Modest yards are commonplace in Carlisle and the rest of our area. Wonderful things can be achieved with these compact spaces, bringing colour and a sense of the natural world to an otherwise monotone and harsh canvas.

Most homeoweners struggle with creating their own townhouse or terraced house garden as they often believe that they don't have the space, vision or budget.

Remember, there is so much you can do with a small yard, not only making it feel much bigger than it is but creating a real welcoming and homely space to enjoy all year round.


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Patio Gardens

Gardens with patio centre pieces

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Small Gardens

Modest gardens perfected

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Decked Gardens

Gardens with prominent decking

Nick Cave

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