Friday, 3 June 2011

Steeply Sloping Garden Design in Gerrards Cross - Finished!

This steeply sloped garden in Gerrards Cross is finally complete and I'm really proud of it.

The fab contractors, Manor Landscapes, battled with appalling winter weather and horrible access issues and they've done an amazing job. So, thanks very much to Chris, Paul, Geoff, Tom and others who's names I've forgotten.

The plants are in and all but one tiny section of the wall is painted - see if you can spot it! I won the battle to get the walls painted pink and everyone loves it including Geoff (ha!).

The lower terrace is enclosed on three sides by rendered blockwork walls which also form the retaining walls for the first level of raised planting. There is a herb garden who's retaining wall functions as an informal seat adjacent to the chunky pergola which screens the BBQ area. This terrace is split into two levels simply for practical purposes - there were some manhole covers the height of which could not be changed and their height dictated a different finished height of paving in the two areas.

This terrace is large enough to two sizeable rattan sofas and a large dining table. It has a contemporary, formal feel, it is sheltered and has a really nice sense of enclosure and privacy. A large patio area was one of the main requirements and the clients are delighted with their new outdoor room.

Another key requirement was a large, flat lawn on the upper terrace. This is the area where the evening sun sets and the clients wanted a place where their grandchildren could play and they could sit and enjoy the last of the sunshine.

The new lawn was created on the top terrace and is enclosed by a Hornbeam hedge, some scented climbers and a fan trained Garrya Elliptica. It is retained using railway sleepers which were used throughout the garden to keep the build costs down and minimise the impact of the large number of retaining walls required to create the garden. Planting and hard landscaping were deliberately kept to a minimum on the lawn terrace as the client specifically asked for a large, uninterrupted lawn area.

The pergola used to screen the BBQ area is deliberately chunky. It is never possible to completely block the view from an overlooking property - you would need to build a wall or fence as high as the house. The way it is done is by using bold structures and strong geometric shapes to stop the eye and focus attention inside the garden, giving the feeling of more seclusion.

The pergola was made from 150mm square timber uprights, with a 150mm square timber top frame. The top frame was notched to take the cross pieces and fixed to the top of the uprights with wooden pegs. The 150mm x 25mm cross pieces were also notched and then slotted into the top frame so that they fit flush into the structure. The whole pergola was painted black. It is softened by some planters with box balls and climbers that will grow up and partially cover the pergola. It is not intended that the plants will completely smother the pergola, I particularly want it's form to remain visible.

Steps lead from the patio terrace to the first raised level. Thereafter, I have used a winding ramp that leads up through planted borders to the top lawn level. The sides of the pathway are retained with railway sleepers and it is paved with one of my favourite garden construction materials - self-binding gravel.

Self-binding gravel is laid on top of a sub-base like paving, but it is simply whacked down and forms a semi-hard surface. You get some aggregate movement on the top of the path, giving that satisfying gravelly crunch. It is a natural looking material that provides a lovely contrasting texture to the hard paving and grass. It can be swept more easily than gravel and doen't spread around as much as loose aggregate.

Here are the other posts about this project which show the progress of the build from the start Introduction, Update 1, Update 2, Update 3

If you need help designing your garden please visit my Web site for all contact details.

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