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Ian Morrison – Designer


Ian Morrison has been a designer and project manager with Graduate Gardeners for more than 20 years and has won awards from BALI – the British Association of Landscape Industries – for his work.

In this post he shares his thoughts on sloping gardens.

The thought of a sloping garden makes some people’s hearts sink, but I really like them; after all, for all the challenges they present there are some amazing advantages too.

The best thing about this kind of site is that it provides a lot more interest than a flat space would, with many offering fantastic views and the opportunity to incorporate borrowed landscapes into a design.

With gardens like these the emphasis is on looking outwards, incorporating all that lies beyond, while with flat ones it’s often more about directing the gaze inwards.

At the same time the top of a slope is a great place to situate a summer house or home office; after all, if you’ve got a great view it’s well worth making the most of it.

The top of a slope is a great place to situate a summer house

Nevertheless it’s also true that gardens with steep gradients can be difficult to maintain and, given we are based in the Cotswolds, an area known for its hills and valleys, we get a lot of people coming to us for help to make their plots more manageable and inviting, something that is achievable with good design and landscaping.

In some gardens the simplest way of taming a slope is to create banks and use them for wild flower meadows that need cutting once a year, as opposed to grassy lawns that need frequent trimming.

Terracing can be used to create level surfaces
Create banks and use them for wild flower meadows

Wild flower turf has become increasingly popular over the past five years and is a great way to achieve a reliable covering.

Other practical ways to make sloping gardens more accessible include cutting in flights of steps and using terracing to create level surfaces, some of which can be used for growing areas like raised beds, particularly if they’re on a south-facing slope.

…if you’ve got a great view it’s worth making the most of it

Garden lighting

This kind of work always requires retaining walls of some description and those built from stone are attractive and should last a lifetime, but the raw materials and craftsmanship involved comes at a cost.

An alternative is to use timber, with oak lasting a good 10 to 15 years. In the past people would have used railway sleepers for this purpose, but most have been treated with wood preservative and have nails in them, which aren’t the best things for the garden.

It is possible to have a beautiful garden on a sloping site
Walls made from stone are attractive and should last a lifetime

An important consideration for this kind of work lies in the access that’s available, such as whether or not it’s possible to bring in heavy machinery. Another consideration is whether the spoil generated from excavation work can be absorbed elsewhere.

At the end of the day it is possible to have a beautiful garden on a sloping site. The key is to embrace it rather than be afraid of it and celebrate the many advantages it offers.

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Graduate Gardeners - Landscape gardeners Gloucestershire

Calfway Lane, Bisley,
Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 7AT
Tel: 01452 770273
Email

© 2020 Graduate Gardeners Ltd

web site design, seo & hosting .: computancy