The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream from an energy efficient home into a reality.



When designing and building your home the landscape design and the garden is often the last thing on the list and more often than not there isn’t much money left at the end of the build.

We ourselves ended up in the same trap with our current house/unit. Over the first few years we put all our effort and money into the renovation of our house. While the garden turned into a little overgrown jungle, with little to no room to move and definitely not a nice place to be in.

By the time our first child was 1,5 (and with the birth of our second child just a few weeks) we decided it was finally more than overdue to get our garden done and converted it into a family friendly and usable space.  

We promised ourselves that we would not fall into the same trap again. Living in a house for such a long time, with a neglected garden that can barely be used. This time around, as we are planning our passive house, we are thinking about the landscape design already during the design phase. And we are planning to get the garden done together with the house, or at least shortly after.

But it’s not just the garden alone. You also have to think about what else you have to fit onto your land. Are there any other services you have to locate? Do you need a shed etc? Especially when you have a small site, like ours, you have to plan in advance how everything will work.

We do want to build a little studio, a tiny home into our garden. Just a one room with a small bathroom and a kitchenette, to accommodate our family and friends when they visit us from Germany, but also to potentially help us with some additional income to pay off the mortgage faster.


We are aiming to run our house mainly from rainwater, meaning we have to allocate a space for large rainwater tanks.

There is also the heat pump and the external unit for the small split system, that will look after the tiny bit of additional heating or cooling our passive house might need. You need to find a space for the water meter and the meter box. And we do want to make sure those services are not visible, but somehow hidden and invisible. We will go all electric and therefore won’t need a gas meter at least.

Once you have thought about all those details and where you place the services, you can start thinking about your actual garden and outdoor area.

Where will your outdoor entertaining area be? Will you have a decked area, or rather paving? This might depend on the level of your outdoor area. If the floor level of your house as above natural ground in most cases a timber decking will be easier and more affordable. Whereas if your outdoor area is below the natural ground level and where you might also need some retaining walls a paved area might work better.

Then you should think about external shading and also potentially about a covered outdoor area. For sure, a covered outdoor area is ideal and an alfresco will give you an all year outdoor entertainment area. But you must be careful where you place the outdoor roofing, since you don’t want to block any northern sun coming into the house. Ideally the eastern sun should not be blocked either. The best spot would be a south or west facing alfresco. But this might not work at all with the layout of the house or the orientation of the site. Lots of things to consider.

We have decided to have a decking around the back of the house, where our living area and kitchen is. Although we are not sure yet about the detail, due to the fall on the site and the added cost this might have.

We also do need to place a little shed in the garden, to store all our gear, lawnmower etc, especially since we only have a carport and not a garage.

On top of that we also want a few veggie patches, to grow our own fruits and veggies. You need to be careful on where to place them, so that they get enough sunlight, but not too much. Of course, we also need a bit of lawn for our kids to run around and play. And we are thinking about to get a fire pit and a nice area to sit around. Maybe even a spot for a projector, so that we can create our own little outdoor cinema.

Lots of things to consider and decide. We now have a rough idea on how our garden should look and what will go where. But we will need to talk with a few consultants to make sure that all our goals and ideas will work in the end.

Our design is progressing nicely, and we are slowly starting to add more details into the plans. Next time I will share some 3d images with you.