A sloping garden can be difficult to manage and hard to enjoy, but with terracing and the right plants they can become an exciting outdoor room with a view...
By Dawn Isaac
Garden designers respond to steep slopes the same way plumbers react to bathroom renovations: with a sharp intake of breath and a knowing shake of the head. Yes, we can sort it, but it's not going to come cheap.
The fact is slopes are tricky; you can’t serve dinner on a sloping patio table, position a shed or playhouse on an incline or sit comfortably on a bench when gravity sends you hurtling to one end.
Inevitably at least some of the space will need terracing to create one or two flat areas. This is likely to involve heavy machinery or retaining walls and probably both. And then there’s the issue of drainage: water will be coming down this slope and, if heading towards the house, or behind a retaining structure, will need diverting or channelling somewhere more useful than your front room.
On the other hand, a sloping garden automatically creates an interesting perspective. Whether it rises from the ground in front of you or drops away towards the furthest boundary it adds drama and movement to your garden that those of us with flat terrain quite envy.
1. Hard landscaping is limited to one side, cutting garden in half
2. Steep slope of grass gives little usable space
3. Unclothed fences emphasise the slope
4. Little planting to soften the space
Use the view
A seating area at the top of the slope makes full use of the spectacular views down
Stone stepping stones weave across the slope, making the climb to the seat a more gentle one
Leave the edges
The border levels next to the fences are left untouched so as not to destablise the fences and annoy any neighbours!
Make a terrace
The land has been excavated from near the top of the slope to fill the lower area next to it using a 'cut and fill' landscaping technique. This central terrace divides the space allowing different zones of the garden to serve different purposes such as dining, seating or play
Keep some slopes
There's no need to terrace the entire garden. Keeping a slope at the top and on the lawned area below the central terrace will help to keep costs down
Retain the slope with gabions
Stone-filled steel gabion cages create a retaining wall around the dining terrace and walkway. Because the cages are 'porous', the cobbles inside allow rainwater to drain through
Choose plants with purpose
Mixed planting creates a bed to discourage people from walking up to the drop beyond. Plants are also used in the gravel to soften the gabions beyond, and along the fences to disguise the border
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