How to create a contemporary stepped garden, with a warm natural feel

2013-10-15_0004Granted, it’s been a while coming, but the little stepped front garden we’ve been working on is finally finished (apart from wall tops, fencing, more planting and a gate!). I’ve blamed the Manchester weather for the delay but in truth it was mostly that thing called ‘life’ getting in the way. The garden was perfectly adequate before, see the below Before and After, in that our tenants could walk up and down the path to the front door, but it was overgrown, dark, characterless and most definitely not more than gorgeous.

To my mind outside spaces for rentals are so important, they’re an indication of how much care and attention any landlord sets aside for his or her properties or portfolio. Having somewhere lovely to walk through or to sit outside on sunny days is a total bonus in a world of apartment rentals where individual gardens are like hens’ teeth.

I decided on a palette of warm golden toned slate, contemporary white walls, lots of lush planting and some Moregeous style chunky timber seating, in this case both oak and beech were used and factored into the design of the walls right from the start. We’ll probably add a bit more seating and a table but for now the main layout and body of the garden is complete.

2013-10-15_0005The challenge was to lose the ramp effect and that was done by stepping the space into two main and then one smaller entrance area, incorporating the walled areas to create new planting beds rather than the previous sloping overgrown masses. Can you believe that window to the cellar behind the oak bench was totally hidden by weeds! The stepped areas were compacted and levelled, then concreted, the new slate tiles lovingly arranged according to size and colour and then colour-enhanced and sealed.

I’ve been using big slices of natural timber for donkey’s years now and still adore them, they just never seem to date. The warm oak tones and lighter sleeker beech add a lovely glow next to the white walls, which otherwise could’ve been a bit clinical and characterless. As I add more planting, I want the greenery to creep over and spill down the white walls.2013-10-15_0003The weather wasn’t always on our side, hence me physically propping up a giant blue tarpaulin in a sudden torrential downpour to protect the drying adhesive! Never attempt to fit external tiles in Manchester without having a tarp and cable ties handy #toptip 😉
2013-10-15_0006Around some of the edges, I asked the tilers to leave a decent sized gap which we then drilled to add drainage and filled with dark grey slate chippings for extra visual interest. Very pleased with the result and I’ll probably move some of these chippings to one side and bash away at some more of the concrete underneath next Spring to add some extra ground level planting which would then appear to grow out of the chippings. Not too much though #weedalert. 2013-10-15_0008Currently deliberating over what to put on the tops of the walls, with thin slivers of dark grey slate a front runner – any bright ideas?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: