Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Landscape architecture Posts

Award Winning Small Garden Design

Exquisite small garden design by Fernhill Landscapes

Within Sterling Residence resides a perfect example of a tranquil, meditative garden. Designed by Fernhill Landscapes, the garden merges a perfect balance between the hard and soft pallet of lush plantings and elegant contemporary forms. To be in the presence of such a garden seems like a soothing sensory experience, with simple, striking visuals of rich textures that could transport the owners into a peaceful state of mind.


Four interior walls surround this courtyard of a garden, making this a visual experience as much as a physical one. The home, built in 1948, was designed as a mid-century modern house. The clients wanted a space that would compliment the building style and provide a visual interest from inside the house. The designer chose to create a garden that would provide those qualities, as well as possess a clear sculptural manner.

An overview of the modern design. Credit: Doug Myers

An overview of the modern design. Credit: Doug Myers

The strategy combines the use of hardscape materials characterized by simple geometric forms and a planting palette that emphasizes form over color. The materials are then arranged to comply with modern aesthetics.

The Design

The three elements — the hardscape material choices, the carefully selected planting, and the flow of the water — create a design that is coherent and physically appealing. The courtyard is presented as a graphic composition of geometrical hardscape and is defined by stones and plantings. Regular slabs of Teakwood flagstone form most of the ground surface; these are then framed and contrasted around the edges by dark Mexican beach pebbles to accentuate the patterns of the sandy brown flagstone. A low-profile edging contains the outside perimeter of the pebbles.

Pebbles used throughout design. Credit: Doug Myers

Pebbles used throughout design. Credit: Doug Myers

Fernhill Landscapes

Garden Design by Farnhill Landscapes. Credit: Doug Myers

Central to this design is the water feature. The soothing and constant presence of water really takes this design to another dimension to create an atmosphere of relaxation. A contemplative environment is created through forming a journey of the water that flows from a custom-made copper bowl into an attractive L-shaped pond.

Close up of the water feature. Credit: Doug Myers

Close up of the water feature. Credit: Doug Myers


“Justin Brouwer” Boxwood, “Sum and Substance” Hosta, white Anemones, black bamboo and ornamental grasses contrast dramatically with the clean lines of the hardscape elements. While color was a secondary concern in the planting, it was nonetheless carefully considered, with subtle greens that burst occasionally against white flowers to accentuate the sculptural quality of the design and its form.

Fernhill Landscapes

Planting used generates lush effect. Credit: Doug Myers


The project won the 2003 Gold Award in APLD’s International Landscape Design Awards, in the category of small residential design. Doug Myers from Fernhill Landscapes built his first landscape in 1994 with the intention of creating beautiful landscapes that would last. To provide these detailed, well-crafted landscapes, Myers says the firm’s approach is simple: “We believe that listening to your needs is the foundation of the design process and the key to a successful project. Every job is considered a privilege and a responsibility.”

Fernhill Landscapes

Award winning Garden Design by Farnhill Landscapes. Credit: Doug Myers

This well-considered and simple design is timeless. The colors are warm, welcoming, and pleasing to the eye, making this the kind of garden you would want to linger in. The thoughtful, carefully detailed space takes into account existing conditions to make sure the garden complements the modern feel of the home and creates a striking view from the courtyard and the house.

If you love small garden design see also:
Stylish Terraced Garden Makes The Most Out of Small Space

Recommended reading:
Royal Horticultural Society Small Garden Handbook: Making the Most of Your Outdoor Space by Andrew Wilson
Big Ideas for Small Gardens: Featuring Dave Egbert’s Garden Notebook by Dave Egbert

Article written by Win Phyo

HOSPER's ecological landscape design "Park van Luna" Park of the Moon (Park van Luna) is a beautiful open area in Heerhugowaard, the Netherlands, where the residential development City of the Sun (Stad van de Zon) is located. Carefully designed over the years – from 1997 to 2003 – the landscape features…
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Win Phyo, Writer

Win Phyo is dynamic, straight talking no nonsense writer which deals with a range of diverse topics that delve into the full scope of the profession of Landscape Architecture.