5 garden design ideas for steep, sloping plots

These gardens may be located on less-than-ideal gradients, but the designers have celebrated the space with a creative design.

By Hugh Metcalf | 30 July 2020

Sloped plots may provide a challenging landscape to turn into useable garden, but these designs not only succeed at the task, but also in celebrating the gradient.

sloped garden with metal floating steps - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Primrose Hill garden by FFLO. Photo: Joe Sanders

While many modern builds focus on large glazed doors at the rear of the property, and introducing natural light throughout with roof lights, in the furthest depths of your home, you can feel a little disconnected from this relationship between interior and exterior.

A courtyard is an interesting solution to consider. Not only does it offer a well of natural light, it offers an opportunity to enjoy outside space, improve ventilation and introduce natural elements that promote biophilic design within your home.

These 4 properties have all employed courtyard gardens in different ways, from the decorative to the functional, to inspire your self-build or renovation project.

Primrose Hill, FFLO 

sloped garden with metal floating steps - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Joe Sanders 

Designed to complement a new basement extension by Ben Adams Architects, the upper level already had a well established semi-exotic scheme. FFLO drew the qualities of this planting down and into view from the new floor below, while the slope can be scaled via slatted laser cut corten steel stairs through which the plants grow.

In front of the slope is a brushed concrete terrace, and to either side retaining walls consisting of board-marked and bush-hammered concrete.

Hypoallergenic garden, Brookes Architects

garden on a gradient with stairs and planters - home improvements - grand designs

Image: David Giles 

This large self-build project in Richmond, south west London, which featured on Grand Designs in 2018, saw homeowners work with Landart UK on a hypoallergnic garden design. The tiered garden’s planting scheme includes hosta and lavender, beneficial to allergy sufferers because they are pollinated by insects, not by wind power. Interest is added with textures of stone, and logs for the Ecodesign woodburner.