Clock House – Domestic Garden Construction

BALI Principal Award Winner 2015
Category: Domestic Garden Construction Cost Under £30,000



Our Clients Ian and Alison had just finished the renovation of the Clock House, part of their stable conversion completed by themselves 30 years previously. Within the Clock house renovation was a new front door. The main objective was to entice visitors to the new front door whilst minimising temptation to use two nearer entrance doors along the way.

The Clock House scheme was designed to create a path to the newly positioned front door of the recently refurbished Clock House. The design was to remain sympathetic with the original purpose of the building as stables and in keeping with the planting and style of the existing garden.

Due to the quality and abundance of existing onsite material, it was decided that these would be recycled where possible to reduce costs and also to better reflect the original nature of the building and location. The quality of work inherent throughout the entire project was crucial to give the finish a timeless and permanent appearance. Recycling materials vastly reduced the waste management and contributed hugely to the low environmental impact of the project as a whole.

The design took into consideration our clients busy lifestyle and although Alison and Ian both enjoy gardening, every area was created to avoid a burdening maintenance schedule. A huge amount of effort and thought was put into this scheme to ensure the design was mindful of all the sight lines and windows from within this stunning property and surroundings. The major difficulty within the scheme was achieving the main client requirement of encouraging visitors to the new door within the Clock House approximately 60 yards from the parking area.

The path passes two main entrance points for which temptation to access had to be minimised… Access to the site was restricted, and all deliveries from HGV vehicles had to be off loaded in a lay-by 300m from site. Materials were then transported by smaller trailer to the site. The resulting scheme was an absolute delight to our clients, who had just about given up hope of finding a solution and design that met their requirements. It was also a pleasure for us as contractors to re-use beautiful materials in a design that will last for generations to come.


To soften the indoor/outdoor transition between the garden and lounge.
Retain the original feel of the building as stables.
Provide wheeled access to front door.
Design a low maintenance garden whilst complementing the existing seating area.
Use environmentally aware design, recycling materials and minimising waste.
Prevent further water damage to lower drive area

Project Outline

The most challenging part of the brief was to deflect visitors past the back door next to the parking area and entice them to the new front entrance. This was addressed by creating a very definite path that obviously continued around the front of the building. To achieve this we started the path at the back door and built it using recycled paving stone that contrasted with the tarmac of the drive and continued round the corner. We then strengthened the fluidity of the path utilising the sculptural timber uprights that curve in a wave type effect round the corner of the building.

The original garden was a mixture of old natural stone, weathered concrete paving and gravel, interspersed with flowering shrubs and mixed conifers. Within the central area was a calming space with table and chairs for alfresco dining. This area had gravel surfacing and large natural sandstone sculptural stones enveloping the area. Wrapped round this, were mature conifers which brought a nice focus to the central dining space. This space had an oriental, calming feel, but it also blended naturally with the 19th century stately sandstone stable conversion and the Clock House.

Our aim was to add to this oriental / calming space by adding the Japanese Board Walk. This was designed to float over the sea of gravel and create an interestingly shaped path whilst still leading people in a straight and direct route to the Clock House door.

Oriental styled bollard lighting was used to illuminate the board walk and strengthen the oriental influence of the space.

Lighting beneath the board walk was used to wash over the gravel and help differentiate the lower gravelled area from the path above. Lighting was used elsewhere to subtly brighten key areas and planting and create warmth and focus around the new door. Closer to the house the design was more traditional, reflective of the initial use and design of the building as stables.

Original sandstone cobbles, recycled from outside the Clock House were relaid as surfacing in front of the main lounge arched window, framing an old water trough. The cobbles were also used throughout the design for paths and edging, reinstating a stable courtyard feel. Additional original sandstone pavings and walling materials were also recycled giving the finished design a feel of permanence and age.

A reflective water trough was used to throw light upwards into the lounge. An old water tank from 1864 was dug out of the field below the property and re-used as a water feature. A mounting block was built from recycled walling stone and a hay feeder was recycled as a wall planter. Wisteria has been used to soften the strong stature of the building by training a curtain of planting along the guttering.

Wheeled access to the front door was achieved by running a separate path below the existing wall. This is largely unseen within the main garden design and utilises gravel surfacing on a stabilisation membrane. The entrance area to the new Clock House door was surfaced in natural sandstone and edged with large recycled cobbles. Timber uprights were used (as at the start of the path), to symbolise the paths ending and to frame the new entrance area bringing focus to the new door. The planting for this scheme was designed to be fairly low maintenance.

It was to blend oriental with more traditional English planting, whilst maintaining seasonal interest, colour and structure. Our research into the history of the Clock House and its interesting ties with local and world famous inventors lead Ian and Alison to renovate the Clock to its former glory.

Our design has delighted our clients in leading visitors down their new garden path to the historic site of The Old Stable Clock House… and their new front door!