Case Study: Coastal Italian theme Garden Design

Coastal Italian theme Garden Design


This garden sits on the traditional seaside town of Portobello, just 15 minutes from Edinburgh city centre, the area draws in huge crowds on a sunny day and has two kilometres of golden sands followed by a long promenade. The goal of this academic project is a complete re-design of the existing blank canvas garden. The client has Italian roots and the longing for the coastal charm she left behind has inspired her vision for this project.

Project Background:

As a businesswoman and traveller, the client wanted the re-design of her coastal sunny garden. In this place, this successful woman can slow down and allow herself moments of luxury and relaxation in her own home.

The redesign for this garden blends Mediterranean feelings, found in Italian coastal gardens with features of a seaside theme garden to respond to the coast in Portobello:

Concept Development:

The main features of this garden are the open-sided porch, arranged to accommodate the outdoor living with dining furniture and an outdoor kitchen, a new bubbling fountain water feature and a raised deck that breaks the feeling of narrow and wide that is present in this garden before now prevents this garden from being taken at one glance.

1. OUTSIDE DINNING: Attached to the house is the outside dining patio that will provide an intimate, sheltered and comfortable outdoor kitchen and barbecue which makes living outside a practical and extremely enjoyable experience.

2. PAVING: The paving helps to get a sense of the whole space, and the idea is to bring back the feeling of walking on a boardwalk heading to a beach. The wooden boardwalk starts from the house door traversing into a wave shape to the raised deck, in the middle as if there’s a shortcut, some wooden boards are placed with space between them inviting to the intimate outdoor living that is connected with the house.

3. BENCH ARBOUR: A comfortable bench in front of the fountain, the perfect place for quiet moments by the sound of running water to enjoy the morning light.

4. LOUGE: Entirely dedicated to entertaining the lounge seating area is positioned to catch the very last moments of sunshine on a warm summer’s evening, it has a hot tube and a minibar.

5. GARDEN SHED: Taking advantage of the wide length of this garden, the garden shed is relocated to the very end of the garden strategically helping to block out the unwelcome external traffic noise.

6. FONTAIN: Also next to the deck a new water feature is a wide trough fountain, this block that appears to float slightly above a bed of river stones that conceals a reservoir beneath. The gentle sounds the water provided by the tree jets makes on the stones help to create an oasis to relax.

7. MARINE OBJECTS: Marine rope around wooden pillars was requested by the client and it’s helping to guide the eye through the garden inviting and emphasizing the idea of movement. Around the deck, edgers or even between the planting beds are composed of marine debris driftwood, pieces of coral and random rusted metal objects found in the shore that will work as decorative elements that help to personalize the space and add interest.

8. GROUND COVER: As a ground cover crunchy gold gravel mixed with gold decomposed granite reinforces a sense of coast and helps prevent weed growth, washed beach stone and pieces of driftwood are used to define areas of planting


Full Sun | Loam/Sand | Well-drained

An informal plating that mixes together plants with a coastal feeling with swaying grasses, the beds run from the house down to the end of the garden where a separated area accommodates the oil tank and the shed.

This sunny garden will have as its protagonist Verbena bonariensis, a much-loved, versatile plant with beautiful deep-purple flowers, along with the rustling movement of the Stipa tenuissima stems making the perfect match. Stipa tenuissima will deliver soft wispy pale yellow-green foliage, planted in mass and will go along with wind movement as in the beach.

All along the pathway Festuca glauca ‘Blaufuchs’ this ornamental grass forming a compact tuft to 20cm with linear, often brilliant steel-blue strikingly coloured needle-like foliage, placed near the fence and wooden pillars and broadway, creates an interesting contrast emphasizing the sensation of walking in a beach promenade.

The present Golden Hornet trees will be maintained, the orange fruits and light foliage fit well with the Mediterranean style. In addition, one new evergreen: Dwarf Blue Palmetto Palm brings the coastal/beach feeling and due to its wide height and spread foliages creates a structure that prevents the garden from being seen in one glance from the entrance, inviting the visitors to go through and explore.

On the right side between the deck and the wall, a line of Calamagrostis Acutiflora, these robust perennial grasses form tufts of leaves, with erect stems bearing dense branching flowering panicles in summer. This area gets beautiful sunlight in the late afternoon, spreading a beautiful golden colour and summer feeling to the deck.

Next to the pergola, arbour and fence (at the end of the garden) we have exotic winter flowering Sophora microphylla Sun King ‘Hilsop’ this plant is unlikely to suffer any damage in our Scotch winters also keeping some colour around the garden even during this period, it not only stays green all year round as it provides flowers in late winter. The foliage is almost tropical looking with reams of small dark green leaves which provide good contrast to the exotic-looking flowers

Paving and Lighting

The deck boardwalk and pathway are made of the same material carefully cut in the designed shape to bearer wastage.

The paving follows a vertical board layout in the porch and deck and horizontal in the boardwalk leaving 5mm gaps between boards. The areas with curved edges can be marked out using a string line following the measures shown in the working drawing.

The remaining material resulting from the cut made for the boardwalk and reused to create the path, 15 boards measuring 1000 and length will be needed and will be positioned following the specified configuration

The 4800×3300 deck are 420mm above ground level and is supported on a frame made of timber post dug out into holes with concrete. The frame is constructed using 150mm stress-graded joists and 150mm (6″) timber drive screws to join the timbers together. Under this structure is the plumbing that provides water circulation for the hot tub and the fountain.

Attached to the deck structure is one 1080×590 custom-made counter with support for wine glasses in “mini-bar” style, the surface of this counter can be made of stone, tile or laminated wood. This counter will provide storage inside, as well as the customized box bench (1000×2000) that provides the structure for the hot tub.

The light configuration designed for this garden seeks not only safety while walking through the pathway but also to produce enhancement effects with a set of colour-changing LEDs.

The switch control will have four groups where the client can have the utmost lighting control, being able to switch on/off individually in each group:

One special group D switches the evening’s entertainment lights that are prepared specially to highlight certain elements in the garden and can be customized with different colours throughout the seasons they are located: one to uplighter through the Dwarf Blue Palmetto Palm branches, another set located next to focal points and another one in the water feature:

Final Concept Sketch – by:kanieman

Ready to transform your outdoor space into a modern garden tailored to your preferences? Contact me today, and let’s bring your dream garden to life.

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