The Swanage low maintenance garden design brief…
Our clients have just moved down to Swanage and wanted a low maintenance garden but one that would spruce up the grounds surrounding their new home. The back garden is not only very small, but has a very unpractical sloping lawn with no area for entertaining or enjoying the space and not much privacy from the neighbours.
They were planning on adding a conservatory so we would need to work around this, but they also wanted a small shed and are for the rotary line to be included. The driveway had several issues: in addition to not being large enough for both clients’ cars, there was a problem with storm water running onto the block paving as well as subsidence in other areas.
Finally they also wanted the front approach to the house to be more than just a driveway, something delightful to look at to make their new home even more welcoming.
The low maintenance garden design – Back Garden
We decided to terrace the back garden using Oak Sleepers as retaining walls to make best use of the space available whilst still creating movement and interest in a small space. All the steps within the garden also use the same Oak sleepers. We have positioned the decking area at the highest point in the garden (the back right corner) as we noticed during our survey that the clients would be able to see the sea from here making it a perfect little entertaining spot. This are is back with Bamboos giving a natural privacy screen. We chose to use Limestone on the main paved area around the conservatory to give the space a light and natural feel, and this is continued round into the front garden.
The low maintenance garden design – For the Front Garden & Drive
The front garden and driveway have been designed to be as free flowing as possible, with curved rendered walls, sandstone capping and pathways and steps made from the same limestone as in the back garden. There is a set of sweeping steps in front of the house, surrounded by planting borders to further soften the effect.
You should always work out of a garden so we started on the back garden before tackling the front.
The first challenge was getting our equipment onto site – even though we use a Micro Digger and Dumper at only 740mm, the 800mm pathway proved a bit tight! We use Rotary Laser and detection equipment for our Ground work, helping us determine correct levels and ensuring we don’t miss any potential issues (power cables, gas and water pipes and even existing footing heights). We took out over 15tonnes of soil, rubble, tree roots, clay and concrete from the back garden before we could even get started on the fun stuff!
100mm of Type 1 gave us a clean, mud free site to allow us to start constructing the sleeper walls. Rather than concrete in the Oak Sleepers we chose a more environmentally sound method of strapping them together with steel banding, this also would serve to improve drainage across the site.
The top terrace of the garden is decked with 6×2” softwood decking and fixed with clever little Brad Nails which can’t be seen! The middle terrace is turfed, with high grade, locally sourced turf with a metal edging to retain the lawn edge against the planting borders. The lower terrace was paved with a Kota Limestone, imported from India it is heard wearing and beautifully subtle in its colours. The paving is set on a solid mortar bed and cut to shape, and edged with a soft pebble rill, again to help with drainage.
Next we moved onto the front garden, again starting with the laser detection equipment as most front gardens and driveways have services running through them. We had a bit more room in the front so were able to bring in our bigger digger helping us to remove over 100tonnes of bricks, concrete and old paving stones!
Once the site was clear we then dug the footings, and started constructing our new walls. The curved walls were designed using CAD and triangulated onsite to ensure a smooth flow. The concrete block walls first receive a scratch coat (bit like an undercoat), then their sandstone caps, and then a few days later the final finish render. We used a combination of white cement and rendering sand to give a smooth cream finish which won’t need painting or maintaining.
The Kota Limestone was then put in place to form a pathway and steps up to the house using the same methods as in the back garden. We installed drainage Acos at the end of the driveway to take water away and channel it to the planting beds around the path which were finished with more Scottish pebbles.
Our final stage was the driveway, 200mm of Type 1 compacted then a 40mm layer of sharp sand screed then Grey Block Paving was laid with Red edging to give us our new structurally sound and much larger driveway.
The verdict – The finished low maintenance garden design and landscaped garden