A front and rear family garden on a steeply sloping site in Abinger

Complex garden levels can be difficult and costly to resolve, often requiring strong retaining walls to support the garden soil. These clients had lived in their house for a long time and had been trying to decide whether to move house or to stay put and extend. In the end they decided to stay in the house they had been in for 20 years, extend it and completely remodel the garden. This was no small task on this steeply sloping site in the Surrey Hills AONB, with a garden rising very steeply behind the house.

With a garden of this complexity, it’s essential to commision an accurate survey to capture the levels. With this done, I produce a detailed 3D model of the garden, and in this case also of the house, by using the architect’s drawings to create a 3D model. The clients wanted a modern elegant garden to replace the tired old gaden they had before, which had been drak and difficult to access.I resolved the complex garden levels by creating two paved terraces (using London Stone Slab Khaki paving) and an upper and lower lawn. A sun deck made from Millboard Coppered Oak completes the sunniest spot at the top of the garden.

The Brief

The clients wanted to use the garden levels to create tiered seating areas and lawns to complement a planned extension. They needed a design that would allow for entertaining and spill-out space from the rear of the new living areas, and an attractive route up to completely new upper garden areas. The existing planting was old and tired and required renewing throughout. Existing hard surfaces were dark and gloomy and loomed oppressively over the rear of the house. The clients wanted a light, fresh garden that would be fully usable in all seasons, and to enjoy the different aspects that the garden offered.

The Design

Following the essential prerequisites of getting a topographical survey and engaging a structural engineer, I liaised with architect and engineer to design a tiered garden that would perfectly complement the house and stand the test of time. The garden really needed brightening up and I designed the lower terraces using light-reflective London Stone Slab Khaki Porcelain paving and DesignClad cladding in Golden Sand finish. The paving was also used for step treads and wall copings, giving a sophisticated, modern look.

I designed an extensive lighting scheme including lighting the treads of all steps with hidden LED strip lights. Seven new trees were planted – although the animation shows Betula nigra, in the end we decided on beautiful flowering Malus ‘Evereste’ multi-stems – a choice flowering crab apple that fills the garden with white blossom in spring and provides structure in summer. From the house, the lower patio, set at house floor level to flow seamlessly, leads to the first raised patio, which receives more sun. This in turn leads to a lower lawn surrounded by herbaceous and shrub planting, and a final set of steps lead to an upper lawn with views out to the hills and a sun deck made from Millboard Coppred Oak right at the top of the garden.




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