50% of my garden is wasted. What are my options?

Discussion in 'Landscaping and Outdoors' started by bs3ac, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    We moved into a new build recently. Happy with the house but the garden needs work. As you can see from the photo, 50% of our garden is a steep hill. We know trying to flatten the hill would be very expensive and hard work (due to waste and support).

    An option we are considering is to only flatten to where the grass currently ends in the picture. This would allow us to extend the current patio next the house (taking up some of the current lawn) while making the lawn more usable and giving the impression the lawn is longer.

    What are your thoughts on the below:
    1. Flattening up to where the lawn currently ends and then
    2. Stepping the incline (see "image 2 ideas") using walls at the front and placing artificial turf on the flat surfaces
    3. Perhaps placing steps in the middle of the stepped sections so that it's easy to get up and down it all
    Questions I have/ my line of thinking:
    1. Budget is of course something I need to bare in mind given most of my savings have gone into purchasing the house. I've thought about soil removal and how to minimize this, hence the stepped approach instead of trying to flatten more of it
    2. Is this something I could potentially do myself by hiring a mini-digger & driver for a day or would your recommendation be to get the professionals in (if latter, any indication at all how much I'd be looking at for a job like this)
    3. I assume the walls at the front of each step would need to be retaining? I'd plan on doing this via a gravity wall or cinder/rebar.
    If anyone thinks this is a stupid idea then feel free to let me know. Just trying to think of good ways to make use of an otherwise wasted garden and without blowing the bank. I could probably have more of a budget in the future if I waited a year or two but would like to get it done now if possible. Another option I guess is to use sleepers instead of walls but would love to hear what others think if you was in this situation.


    Attached Files:

  2. Farmergoggin

    Farmergoggin New Member

    Nice garden you got there new build I take it? I would try and get away with 2 steps if you can as this would make the garden even more useable. I would go for a nice sleeper walls as it would tie in to the timber fence at the back.
  3. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Thanks Farmergoggin

    Yes, it's a new build as was our only option with the help to buy scheme.

    I'm debating whether to go down the sleeper or retaining wall approach. Do you know if sleepers require similar foundations to retaining walls?

    I have been reading up on retaining walls and found:

    Soil is very heavy, weighing over one tonne per cubic metre so any walls built to retain a part of your garden needs to be as strong as possible. Keeping garden retaining walls attractive at the same time as building them in the strongest way is not difficult and that is what this project is about.

    Retaining wall rules - Rules governing the construction of garden retaining walls:
    The basic rules governing the building of a garden retaining walls are simple. Firstly the foundation you place should be a minimum of 150mm (6 inches) thick.
    The mix should be a standard C20 mix. More can be seen about the C20 mix in our project on mixing concrete.
    The width of the foundation should be twice that of the width of the wall you are building and the wall should be placed in the centre of the foundation. If you need to build a wall 225mm wide the foundation should be 450mm wide. This will give you a foundation overlap of 112mm either side of the finished wall.

    Also, maybe I do not need as deep foundations as I think if I'm flattening surfaces to give the step design.

  4. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Anyone else able to offer any advice?
  5. wiggy

    wiggy Screwfix Select

    Do you have kids?
    What do you want to use your garden for?
  6. Abrickie

    Abrickie Screwfix Select

    Yeah, but you’re not going to like it. Terracing your garden either with 4 steps like your plan or fewer as previous post is going to be more expensive than you think, as you will need put wing walls in to support your neighbours gardens :(
    Richardalockwood likes this.
  7. FlyByNight

    FlyByNight Screwfix Select

    Build a nice deck at the bottom 2m off the ground!

    If you think that is steep, my step-fathers family house in Swansea, had an upward sloping garden. From road to front door was about 2m and the end of the back garden was about 12m or 40 feet higher than the paved area outside the back door.
  8. robertpstubbs

    robertpstubbs Screwfix Select

    A vineyard?
  9. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Thanks Abrickie and no problem. Just seeking some options at this stage to see what would be possible and without breaking the bank.
  10. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Thanks. It's an option but the only issue with using that as a decking space is that you'll be pretty high up and pretty much on a podium in front of the neighbours.
  11. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Meh, too much maintenance :p
  12. Severntrent

    Severntrent Screwfix Select

    Walls don't need to be as strong as possible, just strong enough, to which end until you know how high you wall is going to be you don't know what your overturning moment is going to be so you can't design your foundation, unless its less than 600mm, then don't worry about it
  13. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    No kids yet. Plan to in the future. Would mostly just want to maximize space and extend the patio next to the house so it's more usable but by doing so will eat into the current grass space; hence why I want to flatten the part where the grass inclines so that it's a) easier to cut and maintain, b) more usable.

    The hill at the minute is a bit of an eye sore. It's a hill of dirt and from the house it's not pleasant to see. My idea of stepping the incline into sections would make it look more visually appealing.
  14. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Hi Severntrent (sorry, deleted my original and rewrote my reply)

    I have attached an image that might help. The ground level (when flattened) to the start of the soil is around 800mm. This of course does not include foundation and sub ground depth.

    My ideal solution would be the terraced stepped approach like [​IMG]

    but what Abrickie has suggested about needing winged walls to support next door put me off some what. Not sure if there are alternative options...

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
  15. wiggy

    wiggy Screwfix Select

    I would cut in some wide sleeper steps up the middle and have rockeries either side with some choice stone
  16. bs3ac

    bs3ac New Member

    Would something like this be easier to do instead of the retaining wall approach do you know?
  17. daviesm1976

    daviesm1976 Member

    what kind of length is the slope and what is height difference between the lowest part of the lawn and the upper part? this will affect how strong your retaining walls would need to be etc.

    Remember that as a rule of thumb if you build a retaining wall of say 0.5 then the next needs to start at least 1m further back and take into account whether you may add loads to it in the future e.g sheds etc.

    You also need to bear in mind that decking over 30cm needs planning permission although building on a slope complicates this measurement.

    Building retainings walls only needs pp if the change requires engineering works. I'm no expert but i think this depends on whether the wall has to be tall enough to require a structural engineer. You could look this up but this is probably anything much over 60cm.
  18. PaulBlackpool

    PaulBlackpool Screwfix Select

    Have the sloping part at the top ,currently grassed as an Alpine Rock Garden .
    Move the grass to the level part' ie;- just grass what is more or less level.
    Have the lower sloping part as a Wild Flower Garden.
    Reduce the gradient and construct harrow winding paths a foot wide<through both sloping parts.
    Whatever you dig out for the winding paths as you cut into the slopes you will need for the other side of the path. Minimal earthworks needed . Possibly a load of old bricks. Not a lot of expense but a loft of graft.
    I am sure that I have copied this idea from somewhere.
    I have a strong sense of deja vu.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
  19. stevie22

    stevie22 Screwfix Select

    There was a story in the Mail a few weeks ago about a couple's fun and games with a similar situation which wound up in court: entertaining reading.
  20. PaulBlackpool

    PaulBlackpool Screwfix Select

    Cannot find this on Mail Online as cannot find search facility.
    Can you give us the gist of it from memory?
    I appreciate that you were commenting to the OP's predicament.
    Do you think my suggestion above could cause any disputes with neighbours?
    I do not see how as the paths could be a foot or more away from the fences on either side.
    I think I saw it on a TV gardening programme by the way.

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