Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London

Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London

It’s around this time of year when many people in the Northeast start to see their off-season gardening efforts come to life. In England, clients of Katrina Kieffer-Wells hired her firm Earth Designs to turn their North London garden into the calming backyard oasis of their dreams. After finishing a multipurpose basement, the family wanted to extend the style and utility of their interiors outdoors, too. Katrina designed a contemporary garden inspired by Japanese landscapes, with leafy monochromatic forms to mark the influence, in addition to its simple lines and repetitive patterns. She found that the boundary wall and some landscaping had been updated before the project began, making for an excellent starting point for the new plans which she oriented on the diagonal to carve out distinct areas while maintaining easy flow.


At the back of the property, a paved terrace can be set with dining or lounge furniture in the open air. Black Perspex screens artfully hide a utility shed, and will become a backdrop to trees and plants in front as they mature. A stone pathway leads to a raised planter dedicated to children’s vegetable-growing experiments, with the hope of inspiring a future love of horticulture. Terracotta human statues provide a strong vertical counterpart to other tall manmade and natural elements in the space. Farther down the path, a timber pergola provides a spot for casual al fresco dining, and is fitted with a mesh roof specially designed to prevent fallen mulberries from the neighbor’s yard from staining the terrace. Geometric shelving partially encloses the room and references Japanese motifs. The view from indoors looks out onto elegant planter lights for nighttime activities, while paved patterns of rectilinear travertine, granite, and sandstone walkways contrast illuminated spheres throughout the garden. The design also features two young Specimen acers and a waterblade feature with a sunken, covered pool. Summer in the city doesn’t get better than this. –Annie


Photography by Marcus Harpur



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