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Embracing Nature in Suburban Ireland: A Castleknock Garden Transformation

Nothing gives us quite so much joy, here at Gardens Forever, than reconnecting a client with the outdoors through a careful redesign of their garden space. In busy, built-up areas like the Dublin suburbs,enjoying the peace and tranquillity of nature can feel difficultif not altogether impossible. When a client in Castleknock got in touch with us, it was precisely this feeling of disconnect that they expressed. And so we got to work! Read on to discover the simple and effective steps we took to transform a tired, empty backyard into an Irish oasis. You never know, you might just feel inspired to do the same yourself!

Our brief from the client:

When it came to this particular design-and-build project – the result of which featured in The Irish Garden’s autumn 2023 issue – the client was clear on a few things. 1. The garden redesign had to be family friendly. 2. They wanted the new garden to be fairly low maintenance and accessible year-round. 3. The gardenwas to match their home’sinterior design: modernand minimalist. 4. The client hoped to make their garden feel more secludedand natural than their urbansetting typically allowed. 5. They wanted the garden to be an extensionof the home, between which their familycould move easily and freely. Part of what makes a design-and-build project like this so excitingis the challenge of foldinga client’s dream image oftheir garden within the practical limitations of theirspace. Once we had their brief, it was time to assess the project ahead of us.

Design challenges and considerations:

Wedged between the expansive Phoenix Park and the busy M50 ring road, Castleknock doesn’t quite escape the hustle and bustle of Ireland’s capital. Our client’s home proved no exception to this rule. At one end of the awkward L-shaped garden runs Castleknock Road, from which the sounds of traffic were a regular noise polluter. At the other end, two-storey houses peered over into the family’s not-so-private space. Both of these factors were challenges to the client’s desire for a secluded natural space.

Moreover, the longer stretch of the L-shape area was quite shallow, which can often make a garden feel small and less inviting than it should be. This we’d have to carefully incorporate into our redesign if we were to create a modern, minimalist, attractive extension of the home’s interior, whilst keeping it all family friendly.

The Final Design: Solving challenges to create a minimalist paradise:

It may sound clichéd, but at Gardens Forever we tend to see ‘challenges’ as ‘opportunities’. In this case, we found that the difficult L-shape of the garden could actually be used to our advantage. By laying large-format outdoor porcelain tiles from Tile Merchant parallel to the longer lines of the L, we could trick the eye into feeling that the garden more spacious than it was. At the same time, the dynamic shape of the outdoor area allowed us to ‘compartmentalise,’ designing different parts of the space for different dedicated purposes, including a grassy play area for the kids, adining area for the family, and aBBQ and relaxation area for the adults. Most importantly, we did all of this using clean, simple, yet stunning materials which we knew couldaffect a modernminimalist aesthetic which would help tie the garden to the home, creating that fluid sense of movement between the indoors and outdoors. Finally, we spent time assessing the pre-existing natural beauty of the environment, includingthe tree-view (so rare in urban settings) and the gorgeousways the sunlightstriated across the

garden from dawn until dusk. We designed the garden build to highlight and emphasize these features.

Why we chose the materials we installed:

Of course, the ‘design’ part of a ‘design-and-build’ job can only take you so far. To ensure that the client’s brief was met and their expectations surpassed, we needed to carefully select the materialsand garden décor we would use in the final build. Below, we take a quick look at some of the key materials we used, in the hopes they might inspire you to consider your own garden redesign. Artificial grass Our client wanted their new garden to be as low maintenance and family friendly as possible,yet they also wanted the garden to feel like a part of nature. The solution was clear to us: artificial grass. Artificial grass requires little to no maintenance above the odd brush and hose-down, whilst looking just as lush as the real deal. Moreover, artificial lawn shock pads can be installed as a sublayer to protect kids and elders from unnecessary injury.

Outdoor porcelain tiles:

To add layers to our design, whilst providing a durable, easily-maintainable and attractive surface for dinner parties and more, we opted to lay a modernist patio using outdoor porcelain tiles from Tile Merchant. Porcelain is also a fabulous material for replicating a wide variety of finishes, from natural limestone and marble to sandstone and even wood. These light grey 120x60cm slabs matched the colours of the home and brought a bright aesthetic to a garden which, let’s face it, will see plenty of overcast and rainy days.


If the client’s garden was to be accessible year-round, then in Ireland that obviously means creating a sheltered space to which the family can retreat in times of bad weather. For this, we added a pergola in the corner by the BBQ. Open-sided, the pergola’s roof is designed to be opened or closed depending on the weather, but it also serves to provide our client with a great deal more privacy from the neighbouring windows overlooking the garden. Throw in a stylish, minimalist patio heater for those chilly winter nights, and we had created our client a cozy nook sheltered away from the world.

Trees and shrubs:

Last but not least were the plants. We opted for a range of plants which were low maintenance, in keeping with the client’s brief, but ones which, at the same time, would grow to offer both a sense of luscious nature and privacy. We planted a combination of pleached oak trees and evergreen shrubs along the garden’s L-shaped boundaries to effectively wrap the space in nature, whilst shielding it from the view of prying eyes.


Our garden design-and-build in Castleknock, Dublin, was a true success. The end result a minimalist and modern wonderland replete with nature and seclusion from the busy outside world. The client’s garden can now be used and loved year-round, whilst family members of all ages can enjoy the space as they move fluidly from interior to exterior.

For more garden redesign inspirations, or to discuss plans for your own garden, contact us!

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