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Recent projects – with slopes…

Quite often the gardens I work on are sloping. This can vary from a slight change in level to a steep gradient. A slope is challenging in many ways; level areas need to be created for patios and lawns, retaining walls and steps calculated and built and, more often than not, costs kept as low as possible. To remove soil or bring soil in to a garden is expensive so a design ideally needs to accomodate the soil on site. 

I’ve recently been called to help with two sloping but very different gardens, one in Purley near Croydon and the other in Woldingham in Surrey.

The young family in Purley are having a large modern extension built on the rear of their house. The sloping garden has already been terraced in accordance with the architects drawings but the clients needed help with how the different areas of the garden could be used and for me to design the planting for them. You’ll see from the concept drawing my approach has been to plant across each level with low box hedging and a lavender hedge, making the garden safer for their son as he starts to crawl. As the husband likes structure and the wife flowers and colour, the planting close to the house will be more mixed with a contemporary feel – box balls, grasses, colourful perennials and seasonal bulbs. There will be a lawn for kicking a ball around and a level dedicated to play equipment. Still a work in progress the plan is to plant some of the hedging this autumn and follow with most of the planting in spring.

Concept Design for area close to the house
Concept drawing of view up the garden

The other garden in Woldingham was also for a family with a young child. The client called just a few weeks before diggers were due to come in and start landscaping the garden and they felt they needed some guidance on what they should have done. The 70s house was being sensitively decorated with a mid century retro style and the clients didn’t want to change the garden too much. The slope in the garden is extremely steep and they wanted another flat area apart from directly outside the house for their young daughter to play on. They asked for the garden to be as wildlife friendly as possible and for the spectular view across the Downs to be made the most of. An old swimming pool is to be filled in. As there wasn’t time for a full design I worked with the client at the house to understand how they wanted to use and move around the garden and sketched up a concept of what could be done with a small lawn and pond, firepit area and a path leading through long grass up to the bench to appreciate the views. The work is being undertaken at the moment and I hope to go back in the spring to design a planting scheme for the new layout.

Functional plan & Concept layout