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Dealing with earth bank in back garden

We recently bought a house where the back of the garden backs onto higher ground. There is an earth bank running along the length of the back fence (7.7m across and 0.75m height). We are unsure what to do, raised bed, tiered beds, planting directly into the slope? The garden is south facing but this back end is in shade from the end fence and obviously gets fairly waterlogged from the higher ground behind. Think soil is clay loam. All and any advice would be gratefully received!

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  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,638
    edited March 2019
    My initial reaction is to build a raised bed *, rather than plant straight into the slope, however l would be worried about the fence rotting away. I seem to remember Chris Beardshaw doing something like that on a new build garden on the Beechgrove programme, maybe someone else on here will recall. You can improve the drainage and leave drainage holes for excess water, and also plant shade loving plants.
    This forum has plenty of members who have dealt with similar problems, l am sure they will be along.
    Welcome, by the way !  :)
    * Edited to add, if you did decide to do this, you would need to leave an air gap, in other words, a four sided raised bed with a gap at the back, not using the fence as the 4th side. Hope that makes sense. You may decide that's too much of a faff ! 
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    I would take off the turf down to lawn level turn them over and retain the bank then plant a native hedge with some native species under planting this would encourage wild life into the garden and hide that unsightly fence. 


    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • Thank you AnniD and Hampshire Hog! Its really nice to have a response when you are stuck with how to progress! Raised bed initially seemed like a good solution to us too. As you point out we don't want to rot the fence and creating an air gap all the way round would leave the ground under the back fence unsupported, liable to subside. With direct planting into the slope i assume with appropriate planting we shouldn't be concerned about soil erosion or the bank collapsing? We were hoping to take advantage of the sunny Devon climate with tropical planting. So possibly clumping bamboo, tree ferns and large shrubs to cover up the fence?
  • AnniD said:
    My initial reaction is to build a raised bed *, rather than plant straight into the slope, however l would be worried about the fence rotting away. I seem to remember Chris Beardshaw doing something like that on a new build garden on the Beechgrove programme, maybe someone else on here will recall. You can improve the drainage and leave drainage holes for excess water, and also plant shade loving plants.
    This forum has plenty of members who have dealt with similar problems, l am sure they will be along.
    Welcome, by the way !  :)
    * Edited to add, if you did decide to do this, you would need to leave an air gap, in other words, a four sided raised bed with a gap at the back, not using the fence as the 4th side. Hope that makes sense. You may decide that's too much of a faff ! 
    We will seek out the Beechgrove project you mention, that would sound to be perfect. We will need to look at drainage i think, no matter what we do with the slope, as it seems to get a fair bit of water through from the higher ground behind the fence. I think we would extend planting onto the the flat lawn to have a bit of a buffer from the wet ground before the lawn.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,638
    I would imagine that the roots of the plants would bind the soil together, your idea of tropical plants sounds good. I must admit l am not an expert on that, but this may help re: the bamboo and give you some ideas
    https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=79
    Also this re: various tropical style plants for UK gardens 
    https://www.housebeautiful.com/uk/garden/plants/a555/10-tropical-plants-you-can-grow-in-the-uk/
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    Bamboo would work but you need to be careful use clumping types that don't run and not to tall some can reach 10mt + although some height would help with being overlooked from those neighbours windows  :)

    And the idea of extending out from the bank and jungle type planting sound good again no expert but there are plenty of book's internet and someone on here will be able to help for sure I would put up another discussion in plants asking for advice : )

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,325
    It's not a very steep slope, so you could easily plant into that, whether hedging, shrubs or anything else. It wouldn't be hard to remove the turf that's there and improve the soil - a simple retaining edge at the front is all you'd need.  :)
    A row of something like Amelanchiers would make an effective screen, not too dense a canopy on them so they won't cast a huge amount of shade. Great for wildlife - flowers for bees, and fruits later for birds, with lovely autumn foliage. That would leave a few feet for other planting. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 7,539
    AnniD said:
    * Edited to add, if you did decide to do this, you would need to leave an air gap, in other words, a four sided raised bed with a gap at the back, not using the fence as the 4th side. Hope that makes sense. You may decide that's too much of a faff ! 
    The left hand side can't be too bad looking at where that shed is. I'd have a peek over the fence and see what the neighbours have done to cut the ground away to make the shed base. It also looks like there's some nice trees and things behind the fence so it might not be as damp as you think.

    My garden is similar and I've found plants thrive on banks like this with the right care. Mine is a bit of a food jungle with apples, hazel trees, herbs, raspberries and gooseberry bushes mixed in with hebes, mahonia, and various interesting weeds. The shady part of the bank is brilliant for ferns, brunnera and things like that. If you can get hold of stone cheaply (or free if you're as lucky as me) it makes a nice bit of structure in the winter, good wildlife habitat and it doesn't rot like wood.


    A great library has something in it to offend everybody.
  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923
    edited March 2019
    a mixed shrubbery would look nice with climbers up the fence at the back, maybe add a bit of trellis on the top to stop overlooking neighbours.
    or you could put one or two terraces in to level it of a bit
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