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Garden with levels

Designing a garden with level changes

Although central London is largely flat, the hills of London are presumed to have influenced the precise siting of the early city. Nowadays, the steeper hills preside in the more densely populated suburban areas. Designing a garden with levels or a slope requires careful planning to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional outdoor space. If your garden has a natural slope, or you simply want to create more visual interest using gradients and level changes, here are some steps to consider when designing such a garden.

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Evaluate the slope

Assess the degree and direction of the slope in your garden. Understanding the slope will help determine the design elements needed to mitigate erosion and water runoff, as well as maximize usability.

Retaining walls and terracing

If the slope is significant, consider constructing retaining walls or terraces to create level areas. Retaining walls can be constructed using various materials such as stone, bricks, or timber, providing stability and defining distinct garden zones.

Stairs and pathways

Incorporate stairs and pathways into the design to connect different levels. These can be made from natural materials like stone or wood, providing safe and easy access throughout the garden while adding interest and functionality.

Plant selection

Choose plants that thrive on slopes, taking into account factors such as soil erosion control, water drainage, and aesthetic appeal. Consider using native plants with deep root systems or ground cover plants to help stabilise the soil. Also, consider the height and size of the plants. You don’t want to overshadow the lower areas with larger plants, or block the view of plants further away. Balancing a variety of sizes and forms contributes to an attractive and well-proportioned garden.

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Focal points and views

Utilise the different levels to create focal points and capture views. Place eye-catching elements like sculptures, water features, or seating areas strategically to highlight specific areas and take advantage of the surrounding landscape. Consider if you want your seating area to sit proud of the garden to take in the dramatic nest-like view, or do you want to nestle it into a lower, more secluded part of the garden for a much cosier feel?

Water management

Implement effective water management techniques, such as grading the terrain and using drainage systems, to prevent issues with water pooling or erosion. This is especially crucial for gardens on slopes. If the slope is directed back towards the house, make sure adequate and appropriate drainage systems are in place to avoid any flooding.

Incorporate hardscaping features

Integrate hardscaping elements like patios, decks, or pergolas to maximize functionality and relaxation areas. These features can be strategically placed on different levels to take advantage of the slope and provide different vantage points.

If you are unsure about the technical aspects or complex construction procedures, consider consulting with a landscape architect or designer who can guide you through the process and ensure the project’s success. Remember, proper planning and execution are key when designing a garden with different levels or a slope. By combining aesthetics, functionality, and environmental considerations, you can create a stunning and practical outdoor space.

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