Using tiles in your garden

Using tiles in your garden

We chat with Lisa Norton from Harrogate Garden Design…

We’ve long been huge fans of Lisa Norton’s Harrogate Garden Design. Her vision and passion for bringing nature into the built environment have been key to creating an award-winning business.

 Lisa – who originally worked in sales and marketing – decided on a career change and studied garden design.

“I was craving being outside,” she says, “and was fed up with being stuck at a desk. I knew I had a bit of creativity I wanted to express somehow. I really believe in nature and wellbeing, so garden design was a perfect choice.”

Lisa often uses tiles in her garden designs, believing they can elevate a scheme and create visual interest, particularly when used in a way that is sympathetic to the surrounding landscape. 

“When you go to the Mediterranean,” she says, “they use patterned tiles naturally, even in very basic garden designs. When you look at Morocco or Italy, they’re very good at detailing with patterned tiles. In England it’s a fairly new concept, but it’s really catching on.”

Lisa believes moderation is key when it comes to using patterned tiles in a garden, so as not to overwhelm a space and to avoid taking it from looking natural to appearing man-made.

“The detailing tiles can bring to a small space gives it another level of interest and texture,” she says. “I often use tiles in more contemporary gardens. Of course, it’s important to choose the right pattern.

“For good garden design you need to have a sense of place, so as not to do anything that jars with the house or the landscape. Everything needs to blend nicely, so you should never put in something that’s too overpowering.

“I use Fired Earth tiles a lot. I love the quality and the variety, and the designs are fantastic. There’s a luxurious feel to the tiles and the range isn’t too big. Plus, I love the detailing and the fact you can get porcelain non-slip tiles, which is key to using tiles outdoors.”

A very Urban garden

One of Lisa’s recent projects features tiles from our Urban collection. The garden belonged to a client who had just moved into a small, terraced cottage and the brief was to create some ‘wow factor’ in the outdoor space. Initially, she considered a living wall, but the budget wouldn’t stretch that far. She was also keen on a Mediterranean feel and loved the idea of a riad-style garden.

In the end, Lisa created a stunning, custom-made water feature using Urban tiles, which she chose because the pattern could be used on the riser of the steps. She also felt the scale of the pattern and the muted shades worked well and blended with the existing stone and the client’s kitchen floor tiles. The water feature was created working with a landscaper, Block Yorkshire.

Lisa believes the most important aspect of garden design comes before any work takes place. The key to success is taking time, planning, and preparing every aspect. “The biggest mistake people make is rushing,” she says.

Her approach to new projects is to get to know the client, to find out what they’re looking to achieve and how they plan to use the garden.

“I’ll ask lots of questions,” she says. “For example, does it need to be a play space for the children, or would they like to use it for entertaining? I survey the garden, take measurements, and get a feeling for the space and the surrounding views. I’ll do concept plans and, once the client is happy, I do it in 3D. Then we’ll move on to the construction plans.

“If you’re lucky enough to have some borrowed landscape it’s hugely important to work with it and be sympathetic to the surrounding area,” she says.

Lisa’s top tip for using tiles in gardens is to think carefully about where they will create the most impact. In her own garden she has created a tiled rug, again using tiles from our Urban collection, and she’s about to clad her outdoor kitchen in the same design. They again work well on the risers of steps, where they add subtle detailing. 

Above all else, Lisa believes gardens are there to enjoy. As the only biophilic-qualified designer in Yorkshire, she feels passionately about how having access to nature and a beautiful garden space can be stress-relieving and restorative.

Biophilic design is catching on hugely right now and is, in essence, simply a way of bringing nature into the built environment. It can mean everything from ensuring you have as much natural light in your home as possible, cultivating houseplants, or creating a gorgeous, relaxing garden.

You can find out more about Lisa’s work here on her website

Or follow her on Instagram @harrogategardendesign

Her landscaper is also on Instagram @blockyorkshire

Photographer Jo Galvin @feather_lane


Shop our range of outdoor tiles, or pop into your local showroom and chat to a member of our friendly team to start designing your dream outdoor space.