Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Sloping Garden Design - Case Study - Post 1

This steeply sloping garden in Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire is another huge challenge. It is a tricky wedge shape and is set on top of a hill so that it has steep falls across its width and along its length. Luckily, as anyone who’s ever met me knows, I love designing sloping gardens. You can make the most amazing gardens from sloping sites.

The clients have young twins, two very active boys, who are desperate to go outside and run around, but the garden is simply too dangerous for them. I was asked to create a garden with an upper level that can be completely closed off so that the children can play safely there with minimum supervision and a lower level that they can use when adults are present. The garden also had to be a pleasant place for adults to relax and entertain, making the most of the stunning view across the Buckinghamshire countryside.

Designing sloping gardens is a feat of engineering as well as creativity, requiring retaining walls to create flat, useable levels. Not only does this require a thorough understanding of the level changes in the garden – an accurate level survey is essential – but it also needs a substantial budget. In this case I am working to a very tight budget. As I said at the start, it was a challenge!

My solution is to create an upper paved area with a shallow step down to a flat lawn – this entire upper area will be enclosed with a sturdy, child-proof fence. There are steps down from the terrace to a sunken deck which will give privacy and provide a more intimate seating area sheltered from the wind. Steps down from the deck give access to a wide paved ramp, perfect for running and riding bikes up and down, leading down to a decked play area.

The ramp to the play area leads past raised planters and a water feature. The play area is a simple deck with uprights at each corner onto which can be attached various play equipment or a canvas top to make the area weather proof. There is a set of wooden steps leading up through terraced planters to the bottom end of the lawn.

Master Plan

In order to keep the costs down all retaining walls will be constructed from railway sleepers. This is not ideal and but the only option given the limited budget. The sleepers are being bolted to 150mm x 150mm square uprights set into concrete at regular intervals to give the garden more stability. They will also be fixed to each other using timber locking screws. I have also designed the retaining walls so that none of them are too high, only one of the shorter runs is over 1m. Also, the lower walls will help to support the upper walls which helps the garden stay structurally sound.

Model - Whole Garden

The site is very windy as it is set on top of a hill, so if the budget can be stretched a little I have suggested steel posts and glass panels for the upper security fence. This will act as a wind break as well as looking fabulous.

Model - View from bottom of garden

The client loves their new garden design and we are waiting for quotations for the construction. I can’t wait to get started. This garden will transform the house and give it a real wow factor, as well as giving the children somewhere to play.

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