How to Design a Small Garden Which Slope towards the House


Perhaps the biggest advantage of a garden sloping towards the house as opposed to sloping the opposite way is that you can see everything in it. Two likely disadvantages are that it may make the house rather dark if the slope is steep, and drainage can be a problem with much of the water collecting at the bottom near the house. In this design the slope is not particularly steep so neither of these disadvantages is too pronounced. The shaped paving would have to slope away from the house and require a drain of some sort at the foot of the steps. The circular area could be done in a different type of paving or its shape simply picked out with a circle of bricks. Apart from the circle, much of this area would be rather shady, particularly in winter, so natural stone or smooth paving might become very slippery. Some of this paved area would have to be cut out of the slope, hence the protective walls at either end. The two small corner planting pockets will enable climbing plants to grow up each fence, taking the bareness off the area.

The retaining walls, perhaps of brick or stone, should be kept at the same height all round. This height will be governed by the ground height near the steps, so some backfilling with soil will probably be necessary towards the house where the natural levels are lowest. Plants in the beds at the top of these walls must not be too high, otherwise the view will be obstructed.

Small Garden toward house

I was tempted to link the steps and the corner pergola with a path, but the garden is so small that this would reduce the lawn area quite significantly.

The seat and its pergola need a level area so a low retaining wall has been put around them to achieve this. Likewise, in the opposite corner, the small shed or summerhouse has been treated in the same way. The border between these two would slope from the rear fence down to the lawn and the lawn itself would prob­ably slope gently down towards the steps. The pergola over the seat need not be a heavy structure but it should support a couple of climbing plants, perhaps a clematis and a honeysuckle. For anyone who enjoys sitting in the full sun, the pergola could be left out. All the fences could be screened with climbing plants since there is not a great deal of room for shrubby plants to conceal them. The pergola timber should be pressure treated and perhaps stained (avoiding creosote which can damage plants). An alternative shape for this (and the summerhouse/shed) is octagonal or hexa­gonal, but a seat under a pergola of that shape would probably be set further back into the shade.

If this was a strictly hobby garden for a family without children, a high quality lawn could be considered, using Fine gras­ses. The pergola and seat might be replaced by a greenhouse and the borders contain a higher proportion of herbaceous and annual flowers rather than shrubs. If the soil were alkaline, tubs, or pots of acidic compost on the paving could be used to grow ericaceous plants like camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and pieris, so widening the scope for planting. Changing the lawn for paving would significantly cut down the maintenance but unless there were pots or tubs of plants scattered about, the area of paving might seem overpowering. It could, however, be reduced in size to make the borders a little wider.

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  4. How to Design a Steeply Sloping Garden
  5. How to Design a Secret Garden

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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.

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