Dealing with steep slopes can be one of the hardest
tasks when it comes to garden design. Mowing a lawn
on a slope can be treacherous, and plant borders a real
nightmare to weed.
The original garden had no terracing and the slope of the lawn
was proving too difficult to maintain. When the client slipped
whilst using a mower they decided enough was enough - it was
time for a rethink.
Before - treacherously sloped lawn
After - attractive and safe
Designing the Garden
We decided that a wall cut into the bank would not only look
the part but also break up the large slope. We designed a patio
with steps leading to an upper lawn area. However, since we
did not want the client to negotiate steps with the lawn mower,
a summerhouse was positioned at the top. This is used to store
a mower and with power installed, there is no need for long
extension cables running from the house.
The lay of the land lends itself to imaginative use of water,
so a stream was included as one of the major features of the
We thought that an archway within the wall would look more interesting.
Another archway at the top of the bank allows water to appear
as if from nowhere, cascading over a rocky stream then reappearing
from behind the main arch.
When building the garden we were aware of the need for drainage.
With large slopes, when it rains, you will experience run-off.
We made sure there were drainage holes at the foot of the main
wall, placed at four-foot intervals, to stop any build up of
The clients had very young grandchildren, so with safety in
mind we decided to fill the pond at the bottom of the arch with
rock. Anyone who wants a pond but has children can create a
safe water feature in this way - as the children grow up, you
can remove the rock and add more water, perhaps even a few fish.
Tips from the Design Team
- If you are considering cutting into a bank, before you
finalise your plans have a test dig so you know what you
will be cutting into. In this garden a rock face had to
be cut through so hydraulic breakers were brought in. You
may need to re-think your plans to achieve a sensible solution.
- Bear in mind that water will run off slopes very quickly,
so be careful about plant selection. Plants that will tolerate
drought conditions are best suited.
A Golden Pond