3 acre blank slate with a river, spring and steep slope!

Hello everyone! I have a question about starting from scratch. When I say scratch I mean the land has been fallow for at least 10 years and was possibly only ever cut for silage. The house is on well water which turns out to be a spring that flows down the side of the house. The 0.75 acre plot behind the house is very wet. It has a lot of gorse and reeds, and slopes down to a river. At the river there is evidence of bedrock. The area we are in is managed forest and bog land.

My concern is the land slipping or the top soil disapearing if we were to cut back and remove the gorse and reeds. The remainder of the land is very thick grass with Hazel, Birch and Oak trees.

Does anyone have any recommendations about how to manage the land before we start looking into landscaping? We were thinking of digging in proper drainage for the land much like farmers would do on very wet fields. I would imagine this would need to be done quickly so that if we have another very wet few months we don't lose all the top soil and then some.

Does anyone have some places that have made use of a sloped garden and a river side location? I am based in Ireland but I am originally from Yorkshire; the area is very strikingly similar to the Dales and the Moors. We would like to encorporate the river into any design and would love some advice, some 'heads up' and inspiration if people have it!



  • Put some willows on the bank that will suck up loads if water and the shallow root system will support the banks but make sure you are a long way some any structure.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 54,437

    I used to have a garden that sloped down to a stream, but that was on heavy clay.  Nevertheless the best way to stabilise and manage it was to terrace it.  

    Sounds a wonderful site with lots of possibilities, and lots of hard work ahead of you image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • We are looking at terracing it. Bog travels and if it is bog/peat in that part of the garden there is a very real possibility that we'd wake up one morning with it at the bottom of the hill. The site really does lend itself to terracing so we might have to talk to a few structural engineers to make sure we're not making a hash of it.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 25,981

    I'm not very good at visualising garden descriptions. Have you any photos?

    I would suggest not willows, they sound in appropriate to the site and won't suck up water in the winter when it's wettest. 

    There are places that can't be made into  a standard garden but have great scope as a nature reserve.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 54,437

    I'm wondering whether native alder would be better suited to planting on the river bank - they're frequently used to stabilise river banks and can be coppiced to prevent them growing too big - they're also very good for wildlife (and one of my favourite trees - very graceful).

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • That sounds like a big job you have there in Cork. There have been cases of bogs running in the recent past where construction work has been carried out. You'll need to be careful if you go terracing. Some pics would be great. Best of luck neighbour.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 54,437

    Are there any gardens you can visit that have been created on similar sites - it there are you could visit and see how they've solved similar problems.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Dovefromabove - I've been travelling around Ireland to look at a few gardens, however it doesn't look like any have been built on or near any bog. No Expert Is right, most of the bog land in Ireland has been attempted to be built on and sometimes not very successfully. The Dublin - Limerick motorway build lost a few diggers and earth movers to the bog up there!

    Nutcutlet - We were thinking a Willow copse for firewood, we have a lot of Hazel by the banks of the river, and an Oak or two. We will not be touching anything at the river bank because even my rudimentary A-Level Geography tells me they're holding everything together down there...! I'm more worried about the bank coming up to the house.

    Here are some photos for everyone, they're not as detailed as they can be as we'll be moving in January. We have to prepare the land for a few dogs and fence off the whole site before we actually cross the threshold.

    This is the view down the site 

    This is the view back up to the house

    Below is the site on the OS map. The site slopes down to the river. The OS map doesn't show it crossing the complete bottom of the site but it does currently! The gorse and reeds are immediately below the house, and the spring (our well) sits in the very top left corner of the site. The spring and the bog combine to make the land behind the house quite wet.








  • That's some garden you have there!.

    The plants i recognise, Furze bushes and brambles are all shallow rooted and those tufts of rushes tell me you have a lot of water trapped in the peaty soil.Have you dug up any of the soil? Is it peat or just black soil. How deep is the topsoil?

  • I know we have a lot of standing water in that bit immediately behind the house. You'll sink up to your calves quite easily.

    They dug a drainage pit towards the thinner part of the land. You can see it in one of the photos while looking up at the house. All that growth is around the pit. Don't know how deep it is but it is full of standing water. Surprised they managed to build a house on it!

    We are looking at a very wet piece of land with a natural spring on it. We will either have to do drainage or work with plants and trees that love water. Always wanted a bog gardenimage

    We are yet to break ground ourselves so we have a few things that are still unknown to us.

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