Outdoor Backyard Ideas

Gorgeous classic garden with a modern twist

A beautiful garden as at home to backyard cricket as it is to long al fresco lunches
Derek Swalwell

For this graceful garden, the team at Ian Barker Garden Design drew on the architecture of the traditional home to create a striking outdoor space that is a delicate reinterpretation of formal Victorian gardens, but with the more traditional elements carefully swept aside. The sprawling lawn, paved pool area and two outdoor dining spaces are made for living and entertaining outdoors, delivering a big hit of prettiness in the process, with a patchwork of stepping stones, statues and hedges securing a timeless look.


(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

The garden feels as if it’s miles away from the outside world. Ian perfected this oasis effect with rows of ornamental pears along the boundary to screen out the streetscape beyond. He also worked the neighbours’ landscaping to his advantage by ‘borrowing’ their mature pear trees. “These frame the design and add an additional layer to the garden,” he says.

Ian used traditional elements such as sculptures and urns throughout as focal points. This pot (left) features a manicured ‘Paradise White’ standard camellia and black mondo grass, which adds a contemporary edge. The sturdy dining setting (right) has a classical feel and is contained under a pergola that will eventually be shrouded in delicate climbing plants, creating a beautiful, ambient stage for entertaining.


(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

All painted in Bristol’s Licorice, the fences work as a subtle backdrop. As landscaper Ian explains, “The dark shade helps the boundaries disappear behind the plants.” 

“Water courses, like the one connecting the spa to the pool, can be found in centuries-old gardens in Italy and Spain.” Ian Barker, garden designer

(Credit: Derek Swalwell)

Paved in honed peach sandstone, the elegant pool area was designed with the home’s classic architecture in mind. “It was important to use natural stone for its warmth and durability,” says designer Ian. 

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