Garden blog: Olive trees and evergreens complement a Hampstead lawn fit for football

Hampstead garden designed by Kate Gould

Hampstead garden designed by Kate Gould - Credit: Archant

Kate Gould is an award winning garden designer with more than a decade’s hands-on experience transforming gardens of all sizes and a regular exhibitor at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where she has been awarded three Gold medals. Here she talks us through how she made the most of one Hampstead garden while ensuring its lawn is still friendly to a football.

This stunning Hampstead property has recently been completely renovated and had an enlarged basement constructed which meant that both front and back gardens had to be dramatically revised.

The back garden was originally about three feet higher than it stands now; the entire garden had to be lowered considerably before work could begin. This was done by the builders who did the majority of the hard landscaping and rendered and painted the walls etc according to our designs.

We then set to work with the planting. Much of the back of the house is now glass and with that in mind, a palette of evergreen and clipped shapes have been used to provide colour and form all through the year.

There is a lower terrace down at basement level which can be viewed from the whole of the inside building - here we planted some striking architectural Tree Ferns that can be viewed from anywhere indoors. These are ideally situated on the lower level as in a shady sheltered area the Tree Ferns will thrive all year and stay looking great. (They are also pretty low maintenance plants requiring only regular watering and a bit of clipping in Spring to keep them looking at their best!)

Up on the main terrace we placed a couple of large contemporary Urbis pots which we planted some huge Olives in, under planted for colour. The Urbis pots are stunning in their own right and the striking simplicity of the Olive trees inside compliment the large dining table and barbeque alongside them perfectly. Herbs planted underneath the Olive trees add shade to the terrace and are conveniently situated near to the barbeque for Al Fresco meals in the warm summer months!

The top level of the garden features clear glass balustrades running all around it – these needed to be put into place for safety reasons due to the garden being on different levels and there being children in the house. We chose an extremely tough clear glass for this so as to be as invisible as possible and to avoid detracting from the rest of the garden. There is minimal boundary planting around the main level as the client wanted the maximum amount of lawn possible.

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The boundary planting in this area consists of some small trees: mainly evergreen climbers alongside some climbing roses, Box Balls and at the back of the garden where there is a deeper boundary there are Hydrangeas, Rhododendrons, Box Balls and a selection of evergreen shrubs to give the rest of the planting a bit of bulk. The client’s children regularly use the lawn for football which we had to bear in mind and the clipped shapes of the Buxus protect the more delicate perennials from too much resultant damage from a stray football!

The walls at the rear of the garden are painted a brilliant white which provides a wonderful contrast with all the shades of green in the planting but also really bounces the light around and makes the space feel very airy and open. All the boundaries are clad with a lovely warm cedar wood; a stepped slatted cedar boundary running all the way around the garden allows the climbers to grow more efficiently but also gives it a very contemporary feel whilst making the garden feel a lot bigger than it actually is.

This is a garden that will require some fairly regular maintenance on our part over the coming seasons to keep things looking their best and I imagine we will keep returning to it to change and tweak things as the client dictates.

To find out more about Kate and her work, visit