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Split level lawn on slope?

We moved three years ago and inherited an overgrown garden with no lawn. I would like to create a flat area of lawn for my two young children to play on this summer. I can’t afford to get an expert in and don‘t want the kids to have to play on mud and weeds for yet another year so would like to tackle it myself but have no clue where to start! The trouble is the garden is on a slope not only towards the end of the garden but also to the side towards the main path too. There is also a large rhododendron near the hedge at the end of the garden and a rather lovely purple flowering bush next to the path. And as for that beech hedge - don’t get me started!

It looks to me like we would need to create some kind of split level with two small areas of grass and the garden is north west facing so the levels would need to be higher rather than lower to catch optimum sunlight (there is enough to sustain a healthy lawn).

I would be so appreciative if it I could some advice as I have absolutely no idea where to start or what to do - complete beginner gardener. Many thanks I n advance of any help.

I haven’t got measurements for the garden right now but it’s more spacious than it appears in the photos.







  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    I'm a bit worried that in your photo's there is virtually no grass at all: usually it grows everywhere you are not digging it out. The ground looks compacted and damp and there are tall trees and bushes, blocking what light there is.

    It would be possible to make two levels by putting in retaining walls or sleepers and building up and levelling the soil. It's a big job but possible, but I am not sure you will be able to create a lawn.

    Others know more than I do on this so see what they have to say.

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  • I would extend the flat area as much as possible, then in the slope I would do something like this:

    As Freddies dad says, kids don't need grass to play on. 

  • Thank you for your responses - much appreciated.

  • SueAtooSueAtoo Posts: 328

    Can you at least pace out the garden and draw us a rough sketch with North/south marked. Then for the shade, the house and any trees that have to stay, if you can't estimate the height, can you mark where their shadow falls in midsummer (if you remember). I see a gate, so is there a path, real or trodden mud? A patio? Do you want one? Draw arrows showing the slopes up or down and maybe an estimated height from top to bottom with the paced measurement. As Posy wrote, the ground looks pretty compacted, does it get boggy after rain or rock hard in summer? Any more details will help us come up with some suggestions.

    East Dorset, new (to me) rather neglected garden.
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    Perhaps a photo from an upstairs window would help us get a better idea. Please remember that to level any area is a lot of work and will involve retaining walls, expertise and cost. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • UpNorthUpNorth Posts: 376

    If you are adamant you want grass...and lots of families do...then I see no problem in having a sloping lawn, providing it's not too steep for a mower.  it looks fine from pics.

    note there's very little point doing a tiny lawn, where you can't even decide if it's worth buying a lawn mower.

    if you want to create a lawn, clear the area of debris, lightly dig it over, rake it to a 'level', walk all over it to tamp it down....rake it again....then lay some turf in Spring (not yet, ideally not summer) and keep watering it......don't use seeds because you won't be able to have kids or animals on it all year...and try as you might ,that won't happen.  seeds are useful for repairs to small areas.

    personally, i'd follow the advice above me and don't bother with a small lawn, tidy up, put a swing/slide in for the kids, if you're doing it for the kids.  if they want to play ball games, take them to the park.

  • Hi Hogweed - thanks for your message. I will apologise for the amateur diagram in advance! And yes, that would’ve been more sensible to have taken a photo from above in the first place. I’m not sure of exact heights and shadows but I do know there is sun over the area up to the ‘flat area’ most of the day from mid spring to mid autumn. The beech hedge is about the get cut so will expose more light. I’m going to start another thread on the hedge itself! As reflected in the diagram, I will be relocating some of slabs to the area to the right of the paved area as there is very little sun in this part of the garden anyway. Thanks again.



  • Hi UpNorth - thanks for your message. I am fairly adamant I want grass. It used to have dying shrubbery and an old rusty trellis in the ’muddy’ area. We had to remove it all as it was pretty unsightly. It’s not a pleasant garden to use, sit or play in as it is. The best I could last year was to try to keep the weeds down. Due to all the exposed earth, it’s now being used as a frequent toilet for all the local cats! Your idea of a sloped lawn may be simpler and would maximise the lawn space - thank you for the advice as to where to start with that. I may give that a go if two flat areas is not going to work. Thanks again.

  • Sorry SueAtoo and Hogweed! I got mixed up with my messages there! The amateur diagram was for you Sue! 

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