Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How to design a sloping garden - Part 1 - Retaining Walls

When designing a sloping garden one of the hardest tasks is how to divide the space into functional areas so that the whole garden can be used without interfering with the privacy of neighbours or creating an ugly outlook from the house.

Most people look at a sloping garden as a problem rather than a wonderful opportunity to make a beautiful garden.  The outcome of this is usually a huge retaining wall enclosing or supporting a patio near the house with the rest of the garden not used because it is unsafe and inaccessible.  However, with a little careful planning a sloping garden can be functional and stunning.

Contemporary Sloping Garden Design Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire

The main issue when designing a sloping garden is cost.  To create useable, safe spaces in a steep garden requires the construction of retaining walls which are expensive.  However, investing in the structure of a sloping garden is like investing in the structure of any other part of a property – it adds value, gives pleasure and extends the living space.

It is always better to design a sloping garden using several lower retaining walls rather than fewer very high walls.  It is usually false economy to construct a single, high retaining wall.  It may seem like less work and therefore a cheaper option, but a high retaining wall needs large foundations in order to be structurally sound and usually the services of s structural engineer, whereas several smaller walls will need shallower foundations and will help to stabilise the garden.  

Large Sloping Garden Design, Kenley, Surrey

Retaining walls are usually constructed from concrete blocks which are either rendered (plastered) and painted, or faced (clad) with another material such as brick, stone, flint, slate, steel, mosaic sheets – there are many other options. 

Stone filled wire cages called gabions are also very useful for creating retaining walls, their advantage is that they do not need a concrete foundation which generally makes them cheaper to build.  Gabion cages are stitched together to make walls and then filled with stone such as Limestone walling, flint, cobbles, stacked paving slabs, stacked granite setts – again, there are many different options.

Contemporary Sloping Garden Design, Reading Berkshire

Railway sleepers are a useful cheap option for creating retaining walls in sloping gardens.  The problem is that they do not last as long and are not as stable as blockwork or gabions.

An essential task when creating a garden on a steep slope is to plan where the walls will go, how high they need to be and what materials they will be constructed from.  A garden design plan will show how the garden will look once it is complete and allow landscape contractors to submit accurate quotations for carrying out the work.  The plan should also allow the garden to be constructed in phases if budget is tight.

3-D visual for a sloping garden design in Basingstoke, Hampshire

If you would like help planning your garden please get in touch through my Web site . I specialise in sloping garden design and would love to help.

Check out my previous post on designing a sloping garden here

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