Transforming a side garden in Chesham Bois

Chesham Bois

Transforming a side garden in Chesham Bois. Small side gardens can be ignored, unloved and awkward. We turned this side garden into something beautiful. The small side garden can be seen from inside of the home, it adds to the living space as a live vignette. It’s a piece of garden art that will be ever changing…

Client Brief

Their main concern was damp. Since the building was set into a slope there had been a historic damp issue. The clients changed the window detailing and at the same time improved the damp prevention… This left the side garden in need of a design.

The clients water butts connected to the front elevation down pipes to collect the rain had to stay. They sit at the top of the step arrangement, have done for years too. The client preferred to have natural materials, minimal planting and to keep the access open.

The fence had to stay… it was the neighbours…


On Karl’s initial site survey, he got to see the rest of the client’s garden. Filled with ferns and many other wonderful looking plants. Karl knew he wanted to echo this within his natural material scheme for the side garden.

The arrangement would have to be stepped to avoid interfering with the damp course of the home. Karl chose to use French oak rail sleepers keeping the scheme simple and natural was very important to this design. To accompany the French oak in the materials pallet Karl also chose to use broken York Stone to create stepping stones to get to the top of the steps. Further, pairing this with Cotswold flat shingle, a simple ground cover that should go unnoticed and highlight the simple planting.

This design would give the clients maximum use of the space whilst keeping the materials simple and justifiable.

Distressed French Oak Sleepers

It was important that this scheme was natural, oak, gravel and planting. The detail in this scheme is minute but shows care and consideration. Every natural deviation, split, check and crack was expressed. Each movement was carefully chiselled, routed, scraped and sanded. There were several days, for two chaps, to enhance these large lumps of timber. We also sculpted the sharp edges to enhance the shape. Karl will be going back in the Spring to oil these with some Textrol Honey. This will enhance the colour, a well deserved and richer tone, much needed for this French oak.

General Landscaping

A simple set of “past their best” sleeper steps and some reclaimed oak sleepers that had also rotted were in need of replacing.

We replaced the Step sleepers with Use Class 4 treated sleepers with anti-slip tread plates. We also enhanced the retaining Oak elements for new with the ends planed and sanded to match to profile of the existing.

There were some simple paving enhancements and a stone edge to a flower bed. All simple elements to this garden that need bringing up to date to provide the client with a useable garden and much less maintenance.

Credits and Further information

Design and Installation – Karl Harrison Landscapes Ltd

Materials – Country Supplies

Completed – 2020

Location – Chesham Bois


About Karl

Karl Harrison designs, builds and delivers high end residential and commercial landscaping projects.

He brings clarity to unusual situations, new materials and understands how to apply them with current technology. He is a professional Engineer and demands attention to detail that ensures impeccable results.

We absolutely love the space that Karl & his team created for us.

Mr & Mrs Oliver.

See how we can help you...

We adapt to the needs of every client, fluent in a combination of traditional techniques ensuring the hard landscaping works in harmony with the soft planting, garden art and style in your garden.