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Unique garden- help needed on a design

I'm quite stuck on what to do with my garden, the front garden i can deal with, it's small and pretty, but the rear garden is tiered, in probably 1.5m high tiers.

Currently all of these are gravel, non-maintained in at least 10 years.

I was wondering if any of you kind people could help me try and work out how to make this garden work. As this is my first house and first garden.




  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,309

    What is under the gravel?image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • How do i upload pictures i wonder...






    (still during)




    I'll get some better photo's up when i can, but as you can see... this is not a conventional garden at all!


  • Under the gravel is... thick, solid, dark, clay-ey compacted stuff! it isn't concrete,

  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,309

    Well, I think it's going to either involve a lot of graft in the form of gravel removal and soil improvement or keeping the gravel and covering the place in containers.image

    How fit are you?image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • The current plan is to pull up all the gravel and use it for drainage behind all the retaining walls (as in a couple of places they are struggling) so the world is my oyster.

    I should be fit enough.... bar the amount of steps up to do anything!


    This is the most recent photo i have... the conifer in the back right of shot is coming down. and my garden ends on the right hand side level with the conifer, and on the back wall level with the conifer.

    the "twigs" on the left will hopefully grow back to being a bush again... they were so tall they could be classed as trees!

    Where the greenhouse is i need that bush, or a fence there to stop anyone falling between the gap to the garage.

    on the rhs, the little wooden fence, in front of that i've planted many tulips of various colours.

    behind the pile of conifer leaves (which will go to the tip!) is a trellice? with lavendar - rose -lav-rose-lav-rose-lav the three rose bushes are climbers so hopefully will add a bit of interest to that wall.

    on the left, where the pile of logs is, theres a purple tree i have no idea what it is! but that's staying, and a few evergreens...

    i don't know where to go from here image.

    I can upload a few more pics of the layers when i have time.


  • It is certainly an interesting space to work with, but I guess it is quite hard to literally get an overall view. Even from the upstairs windows you probably only see much of the lower terraces, and you need things to look down on. From the table area you see the walls and the nearest terrace with the pots best, and need things to look up at.

    The good things about it are that the messy and expensive hard landscaping works have been done and the separate terrace arrangement means that you can do one bit at a time. What you do depends most on what you think you would like to grow. You have made a start with your tulips for colour, but you will need to follow them with something else for summer.  

    Improving the soil would involve digging in lots of organic matter: manure or compost (see if you can buy it from your local council). If you are lucky the soil may just be very compacted from all the building work, though the topsoil and subsoil likely got a bit muddled in the process too. Pots could be an option but will probably be more effort longterm,  as they will all need to be kept watered, especially if the terraces get a lot of sun. Starting on the pot terrace and then the tulip terrace would give the most initial impact, but before we can help much we need more info.

    Which way do the terraces face are the exposed to wind or sheltered and whereabouts are you? All these will affect what will grow best for you.

    How much work do you want to do, and how much maintenance will you have time for? Are you looking forward to it or does your heart sink at the thought?

    What kind of feel do you want: formal, informal, traditional, modern, cottagey, Italianate...?

     What kinds of things do you want: annuals, perennials, shrubs, bedding, vegetable/fruit, climber, roses...? Tell us more and we will be able to offer better ideas, more tailored to your needs !

  • Well. I work the general 9-5 mon-fri so evenings for 6 month of the year i cannot do anything in the garden (weekdays) due to lack of light and i don't particularly like the idea of doing anything in the dark in the garden, it'd be like painting a self portrait blindflolded!

    I'd like to spend say, a few hours every second weekend on the garden, i'd probably do more some months, but that would be a base line.

    I like to grow chillies, so i'd like the area above the garage to eventually be either the site for a larger greenhouse/poly tunnel (which i will make) so that means the small hedges in that corner can go. I'd also like to grow strawberries somewhere in the garden, my last lot were in hanging baskets and i literally got about 3 strawberries!

    The garden, lovely and south facing (the photos are taken near enough facing south) and at the top of a hill, the neighbours fence at the top level stops most of the wind up there, and the hedges to the left, and walls to the right seem to stop the rest of it, so it's pretty sheltered!

    I'm just south of Leeds west yorkshire.

    From the window, the lower terrace with the wooden seat is paved in white paving slabs, with brick pillars and wooden fences between. I'm not too sure i want that paved.... we'll see this summer!

    Because... the level below (yes there's another level!) is tarmac, and is big enough to entertain guests in summer, although i want to eventually use the top level for entertaining because i can get the chiminea out and not have to worry about the smoke in the house. That and the views are lovely from up there!

    I don't know what style i want, probably fairly formal, I don't want a jungle!

    I don't know my plants other than trees (i'm hoping to keep the apple tree, may have to dig it out and replace it with a new one)

    I think that's every question answered!

    My current (lacking) plans i'll post in the next post, as my photos have finally uploaded!


     Top tier, we want to entertain on this top tier, our original plans were to astroturf the entire top level, bar a path from the steps to the area on the left of the photo. but thinking about it if the apple tree went, we could convert that area to the entertaining area because its bigger and more sheltered, and use the top area as a viewing platform (i don't know!)

    Around the apple tree (RHS) i have planted a ring of bluebells and snowdrops, no long term plan on these, but i thought the first year would be pretty!


    A view from the apple tree level and the plants in the level below, no idea what they are but they are evergreens, the pile of logs is gone, under there is a stump from the large tree in one of my first posts.


    Same level, the opposite side of the path, my lav-rose-lav-rose-lav-rose-lavendar combo, hopefully the lavendar will make a nice coloured base for the climbing roses to make the wall look pretty (am i thinking that correctly, or just dreaming?)

     I have removed the grass type plant since this photo, the tulips are in the little border in front of the little fence, the roses at the far end of this photo.

    I don't have a photo of the paved area, but as you can imagine, its paved. It's also fairly sheltered from both light and wind, so i doub't it'll be very easy to grow anything in that section.

    I hope you are all feeling imaginative! By the sounds of it i'm going to have a pretty tulip patch in spring, with a wall of roses and lavendar and not much else!!!



  • granmagranma Posts: 1,929

    Hi VC

    Your garden , I do find it intriguing and different .a lot of brick/ stone or whatever has been used and a lot of work by some one , also expense  into  it designing by previous owners. It reminds me of an Italian design (      I think ?       ) .

    Sorry if I've missed it but are you planning on keeping the individual  plots ?  Each one would look effective with whatever you choose to do .each one  could would  be different or tie  in to the next .  

    I see it that the hard ground work has been done for you for you now to take each one to the next stage.

    Myself  I would love this  chance, I really do envy you. Just come to me what it reminds me of too , it's the national trust garden  " bidulph " .... might have spelt wrong !


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,258

    Someone else has done all the hard expensive landscaping.  It may be that the builder has dumped the clay subsoil on top of the decent stuff. If you can incorporate as much organic matter as you can in , and fork it through the soil, it would give you a good start. You can use compost, well rotted manure or fine shredded bark. Some garden centres sell bags of soil improver, which to my mind is expensive, but if that is all you can get, it will do.

     All the walls  could be cloaked with climbers such as honeysuckle, clematis, or jasmine.

    The beds could have seasonal bedding in for a year or two, until you decide what perennials you want. That gives you more time for soil improvement.

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