The clients bought their house for the scenic views but the steep overgrown garden with high hedges and slippery access paths was a problem. The brief included: a flat grassy area where the grandchildren could play, plenty of planting areas with good access for maintenance and a pleasant ‘journey’ through the garden from upper to lower levels. As the garden would be viewed from the upper living areas and balcony, it needed to look interesting from above. The garden was being designed professionally and we were invited on site in the early stages to advise on some of the practicalities that needed to be taken into consideration. We knew then that it was going to be a challenging job, but didn’t realise quite how challenging!
The clients were actively engaged in the design process, and were delighted with the organically curving sunken path that travelled down the garden to a flat lawn outside the existing wooden barbecue house and deck. The planting areas created by the retaining walls of the pathway were the ideal height for maintenance in a standing position – always a bonus. Given the steep slope (the bottom end of the garden was 4 metres lower than the ground level at the rear of the house), the garden had to be cleared and levelled from the bottom up. Two natural stone terraces were constructed to stabilise the lawn area and then the concrete block retaining walls for the meandering path could begin. This project involved many detailed calculations of levels and wall heights and was further complicated by a very deep topsoil layer which required deeper footings for the retaining walls than had been estimated. Terraced planting areas stepped down the garden on each boundary and needed to intersect correctly with the turn points of the curving path. A set of wooden steps was added on one side of the garden, allowing quick access to the greenhouse and shed levels. The retaining walls of the sunken pathway were faced with Indian sandstone walling, to match the paved seating area at the top of the garden. The side terrace retaining walls were faced with oak boards, providing a contrast in materials to add interest. Dark grey compacted grit was laid on the surface of the path and step treads. Now that the garden is planted and maturing, the hard landscaping is starting to fade into the background and the clients comment that they get all the exercise they need just walking up and down the garden path!
This garden was designed and planted by Belinda Macdonald from Shades of Green Garden Design