[DESIGN SHOW 7] – Sloping garden ideas, steps and retaining walls

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Sloping garden ideas, steps and retaining walls

In this episode, professional, international garden designer Rachel Mathews will feature sloping gardens, steps and how to deal with a retaining wall and changes in level. She will reveal her simple method for linking different level changes within the garden.

This video is a quick sketch challenge for an existing garden in Scotland which needs re-doing so a retaining wall and steps can be added. You will learn how Rachel sketches over the existing sloping garden to re-design it using oval and curve shapes.

Rachel will also talk about tips and ideas on putting in steps and a retaining wall. She will discuss how wide or narrow the steps should be and how it affects the retaining wall that you will put up. This will also help with making the garden look and feel larger.

You must think about the entire garden…

She will also tackle level changes and do it in a way where the garden looks much more inviting. She will give you advice on the measurements for the levels on the steps and what the average measurement is.

She will also mention some suggestions on what you can put beside the retaining walls, like dense planting as barriers so no one falls off the patio and it also makes it feel even more open in that area. At the end of this episode, in just a few simple garden design sketches, you will see how effective the lawn and patio shapes are and how the curves draw your eyes down the landscape of the garden.

If you’d like to see more ideas for small gardens and how to effectively deal with changes in level, then check out our very popular Small Garden Formula course.iPad-small-design-course1

What Would You Like to See Covered in Future Shows?

I’d love to get your ideas for future shows so that this can be as beneficial to you as possible. Leave a comment me know what topics you’d like me to delve into in future episodes in the comment boxes below?

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Comments

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About Rachel Mathews

Professional international garden designer for over 20 years. My mission is to de-mystify garden design and make it easy for people to successfully design their own garden - without needing to spend a fortune!

Comments

  1. Successful Garden Design says:

    Sloping garden ideas, changes in level, retaining walls and steps – latest
    Garden Design Show episode now live!

  2. Alison Boocock says:

    Rachel, you have made my garden shape so much better…I love it! I keep watching the video over & over again and can see how the curved wall will transform my garden. I can't wait for the work to start (when I eventually get a hold of a builder to do it!) – shape is EVERYTHING – *THANK YOU*!

  3. You're very welcome Alison – glad this will help you. Hope you'll keep us all posted on how you get on and the finished garden. And good luck with getting hold of a builder (perhaps if you tell them they'll be famous on YouTube, you might get someone good!!)

  4. Alison Boocock says:

    Successful Garden Design I will keep you posted! And what a good idea to mention to them they could be famous, ha ha!

  5. Thanks Alison – though preferably without pics of builder's bum (I've got enough of those already!!) 😉

  6. Joanna Rodwell says:

    Hello Rachel

    I have just tried several times to watch episode 7 but it has no sound and keeps stalling ?????????
    Has anyone else had this problem – usually there are a couple of links to watch it but this time there
    is only the itunes one ??????????? Oh Dear – I was so looking forward to a nice show and it has gone
    haywire !!!!!!!!!!!

    Regards
    Joanna

  7. Gill Martin says:

    Hello Rachel,

    I have had the same problem as Joanna, I have no sound. I will try youtube as you have suggested. Your videos and teaching are absolutely wonderful. I love tuning in.

    Thank you.
    Gill Martin

  8. Julie Rea says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I would be interested in you doing an episode on aquaponics and how to incorperate it into a garden that is practical but also looks great. I live in New Zealand on a ten acre lifestyle block. And as a recently diagnosed cealic I am getting very serious on growing my own vegetables. We have just bought some large white square plastic tanks in order to set up an aquaponic system. Our dream is to also have a glasshouse or even set up the grow beds inside the glass house and landscape the bare lawn around it in order to flatter and blend it in. My section is unlike any of the other gardens that I have so far seen as it is much larger and I also dont want to plant anything to high as it will block out the views of the valley farms. But we really need wind shelter as we are up high on a hill. So as you can see we have a lot to think about. All ideas would help immensely. I cant wait to see what you have planned next. Thanks again, Regards Julie

    • Hi Julie,

      Many thanks for your comment. Neil, the aquaponics expert’s system, is designed to go into glasshouses. His system uses fibreglass troughs with grow beds above the fish tank. It’s not something I know masses about, so I’m keen to learn as well. I will have to find out if his system can be adjusted so you can have several grow beds from one fish tank. Something else you might want to consider is permaculture, there’s an amazing website by Geoff Lawton you do have to give your email address in order to watch his free videos, but well worth it as the info is mind blowing!

  9. Successful Garden Design says:

    Here’s a video with lots of tips to help you design a sloping garden…

  10. Elaine Aldridge says:

    Hi Rachel. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your design shows. Your presentations are so articulate and you manage to explain some quite complex information in such a short space of time.
    I am a professional gardener and dabble with garden design occasionally, so your experience and knowledge, especially in the hard-landscaping area, is really helpful.
    Thank you for all the time and effort you are putting into this – I don’t know how you do it!
    Best wishes, Elaine.

    • Ah thanks Elaine – you’ve just made my day! 😀

      I’m glad all the time spent doing the episodes is helping – I’m hoping eventually I’ll speed up a bit at doing them!!

  11. We have bought a house with a wonderful garden space, but it doesn’t have a level surface in it! So this show was made for me. I’ve been struggling to deal with the levels first …..light bulb moment, design first!! Thank you.

    • Hi Sally,

      Thanks for your comment – I’m thrilled this design show episode has helped you! Keep us posted on how you get on with your garden, I’d love to know how it all turns out!

  12. baljeet ahluwalia says:

    NICE ONE

  13. Shonda W says:

    You have a true gift! Can I send you a picture of my backyard for some
    advice?

  14. Shonda W says:

    You have a true gift! Can I send you a picture of my backyard for some advice?

  15. Successful Garden Design says:

    Thank you Baljeet :o)

  16. Steve Lawrie says:

    brilliant lesson, thanks

  17. Successful Garden Design says:

    Hi Shonda, thank you! This time of year is just crazy busy, so I'm not able to take on any more design projects until August now. If that's ok, then please check out this page for more details on the design services I offer: http://www.successfulgardendesign.com/design-service/ or if you just want some advice, then this page is the best one to go to: http://www.successfulgardendesign.com/plan-review-service/ and I'm available for this service in June.

  18. julia321 says:

    thanks Rachel, another great video. I like your ostrich method, it’s sort
    of helpful to not think of everything at once. I’ve got a very shallow and
    wide garden, and try as I might I can’t fit a circle into it. I’m trying to
    capture the development of our garden on a blog/website
    http://coregardens.webs.com/ and have put the design that I’ve come up
    with on their in the blog section.
    Thanks for the great videos and good luck with everything

    • Successful Garden Design says:

      Thanks Julia. If a circle won’t fit, try an oval – they tend to look like circles once they are on the ground anyway. Or if the space is really tight, a semi-circle can sometimes work. Good luck with your garden & your blog (sorry for delay in replying, your comment was caught in the spam filter in YouTube!).

  19. julia321 says:

    thanks Rachel, another great video. I like your ostrich method, it’s sort of helpful to not think of everything at once. I’ve got a very shallow and wide garden, and try as I might I can’t fit a circle into it. I’m trying to capture the development of our garden on a blog/website  http://coregardens.webs.com/  and have put the design that I’ve come up with on their in the blog section. 
    Thanks for the great videos and good luck with everything

  20. Sophie Gist says:

    Hello thanks for this we have a long really sloping garden, we need help so this is a great start! I'll check out your site also.

  21. Successful Garden Design says:

    Thanks Julia. If a circle won't fit, try an oval – they tend to look like circles once they are on the ground anyway. Or if the space is really tight, a semi-circle can sometimes work. Good luck with your garden & your blog (sorry for delay in replying, your comment was caught in the spam filter in YouTube!).

  22. Not certain about the points made but ,if anyone else wants to learn about
    landscaping designs for backyard try Loctavan Beautiful Landscape Strategy
    (do a google search ) ? Ive heard some unbelievable things about it and my
    mate got cool success with it.

  23. Not certain about the points made but ,if anyone else wants to learn about landscaping designs for backyard try Loctavan Beautiful Landscape Strategy (do a google search ) ? Ive heard some unbelievable things about it and my mate got cool success with it.

  24. A Duncan says:

    When you measure a slope do you use the actual ground measurement or the overhead measurement on your plan?  It could be 40′ (long/tall) using a ground wheel up a 30 degree slope but the actual measurement if it wasn’t sloped would be say 20′.  If I use 40′ then it doesn’t correlate to the actual lot size.  But if I use 20′ and want a plant every 5′ up the slope that doesn’t work either.  How should it be done?  Thank you.

  25. Giggs Ricard says:

    *The best I have come across as of now. I will relent this to anyone and all to my friends looking for a collection of designs. I don’t see anyone passing all this without consulting the best program for their problem. I am so much delighted to work with them and making use of their designs without any further problem again [Details Here==**https://plus.google.com/u/1/110086446704524205338/posts/HrzGjo6aFKc** ].*

  26. Rachna Leveque says:

    Hi Rachel. Thanks for your lovely videos. Love your live drawing sessions. Would love to see some ideas for working with natural slopes. I am planning our garden now and we have 2.5 m between front and rear so our retaining walls are not optional. Finding it a very interesting exercise I must say 🙂

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