Colne Garden Terrace, Rickmansworth. Sometimes in a garden design, function and form are the most important attributes of the design. It’s all very well having visions of grandeur and having a want list as long as your arm but sometimes in reality… it’s far more simple.
The property stood at the top of a difficult slope that ran down toward the river Colne that slowly meandered across the bottom of the garden.
The design concept included a grand set of terracing, hand-finished paving, a complex planting scheme and lights that would have embarrassed Cinderella’s castle in Disneyland. However, the budget didn’t stretch quite that far so a stripped-back approach was needed.
We knew the terracing had to be as simple as possible, some layer level and some not. No planting as the client was happy to follow our advice and complete this themselves. The steps needed to be everlasting so concrete was the order of the day there… it was a simple affair but still a substantial amount of materials for such a small space.
The most cost-effective form of terracing is Gabions; in this scheme, there were 32 gabions that swallowed up 15 tonnes of Granite Gabion stone. Moved into place by hand from the drop off location in the front garden some 75 metres away. The same story for the concrete steps where 6 tonnes of ballast and 60 bags of cement were moved in the same way.
Timber formers were created on-site to create the framework for the steps; plenty of reinforcing steel bars created the integral structure for the concrete form. The steps were completed with a sealant from Nexus.
Six tonnes of appropriate graded soil had to be imported to create a base for the new lawns to be turfed.
Whilst a simple solution for this scheme it required the movement by the hand of more than 36 tonnes of materials… we have been asked “why didn’t we use sleepers” we answered…
“We would prefer not to use sleepers in a retaining wall if at all possible as they rot rather quickly, the time taken to create the project in sleepers would have been no different than the cost of the gabions… The gabions will last much longer than sleepers… They also look better!”
The planting scheme was presented to the client so they may benefit from our horticultural experience when they decide to complete the garden at a later date. The client contractor relationship was open and honest about what could be achieved for the budget. We’re sure to return to complete the garden as a final phase including replacing the decking, and fencing and creating a new paving and lighting scheme.
Credits and Further information
Design Karl Harrison Landscapes Ltd
Material’s Country Supplies
This project was completed in 2019 and photographed in 2019.
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