A Steeply Sloping Garden For Creative Clients
A couple based in the Tower Hill area of Dorking approached me with a problematic front garden which had so far defeated their attempts to rationalise the levels and create an attractive and usable space to welcome visitors to their home. The steeply sloping garden was in a poor state of repair and badly needed my input to make it attractive and safe. Not that the clients weren’t practical – in fact they were exceptionally so, and had carried out extensive landscaping works themselves to the rear garden of this attractive arts-and-crafts bungalow with interesting period features – though not so pronounced on the exterior that they would dictate a slavishly 1930’s approach to the garden.
The existing steeply-sloped garden had a 1:3 Gradient from kerb to front door, rising 6.5m in height over just under 20m in length. The garden was overgrown and had dilapidated steps and retaining walls that were already becoming unstable and would in time become unusable. The roots of a large beech tree were pushing over a tall retaining wall next to the garage, and the clients wanted a complete redesign incorporating new retaining walls, steps, bin storage lighting design and planting. The clients wanted an attractive and visually strong design solution that made sense of all the levels, improved the attractiveness of the property as a whole, and gave easy and well-lit access from the kerbside to the front door.
My design solution was to remove all existing walls and the continuous set of uneven steps that ran from the kerb to the front door without a break. In their place, I introduced five sets of steps and retaining walls, each with a landing to allow pause for rest and access to the new level terraces. The terraces were to be planted with a low maintenance mixture of perennials, grasses and shrubs, with specimen multi-stem shrubs artfully placed above them to provide screening to the new patio area, which faced the setting sun and enjoyed fantastic views to enjoy evening drinks looking out to the North Downs. Structural interest and seasonal change was introduced by using alternating sets of yew and hornbeam hedging and Amelanchier shrubs – all native to the local area.
Although a challenging site, this is the kind of project I really enjoy as, from a design perspective, it gave me something to really get my teeth into. In addition the clients were fully engaged, had lots of ideas of their own, and were very good at communicating and discussing the various ideas that were considered during the design process, making them a joy to work with and the project a joy to design.