Family garden in Ashtead, Surrey

We were appointed to develop a design which would replace the existing deck at the back of the house and soften all existing retaining walls to manage the various level changes in this garden of 1 acre. The views from the house into the wider landscape are magnificent but were almost closed off and interrupted by glass balustrades with railings at eye level. 

The design focuses on opening up the L-shaped upper level by the house to allow a direct connection with the garden, which is about 1.2m -1.8m below the ground floor level of the house (which forms the ‘upper’ part). 

Staggered retaining walls not higher than 450mm manage the changes in level and create a serious of different levels to walk on, walls to sit on and gradually connecting with the lower lawn level.

The construction of the new retaining walls required dealing with an existing basement level under the terrace and old paving layers beneath the deck which were exposed once the deck was dismantled. 

A meadow with Birch trees forms the boundary to the west. Opposite, a long, sloped border along a retaining wall forms the boundary along the upper level which is covered with an existing timber pergola. 

The planting of this border is designed to encourage pollinators and other beneficial insects to come into the garden.

The house itself needed softening and this was achieved creating small planting borders, with parasol trees for height and shade and evergreen small hedges to define the dining area. 

Beige limestone is combined with red clay pavers laid in a herringbone pattern and with the brick faced retaining walls complement the appearance of the house.

A corten steel water feature is located within an informal gravel area with accentuated planting, taking its inspiration from the rural landscape beyond the garden. 

Images by Joanna Kossak