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. 

Read more: 3 innovative houses built on sloped plots

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. 

Oxford garden, Sarah Naybour Design

sloping garden down from house with gabion retaining walls - grand designs

Image: Sarah Naybour 

This garden, sloping down an elevation, was developed as part of a house overhaul near Oxford. Garden designer Sarah Naybour tackled the steep site using oak walls and a gabion wall to retain the levels. Paths cut through swathes of grasses and perennials.

Read more: Inside a re-imagined London maisonette with a sunken garden

Greenwich garden, Georgia Lindsay Garden Design  

 steep garden design with series of terraces in grey concrete - home improvements - grand designs

Image: Nathalie Priem 

In this steep garden, designer Georgia Lindsay replaced crumbling infrastructure with new concrete walkways, creating a series of terraces that could be designated for different functions. 

Lighting on each terrace has been used to ensure each space is useable day or night, and the inhabitable space on each storey is behind a wall of planting to help keep any feelings of vertigo at bay. 

Allum House, Square Feet Architects  

 basement steps with planting and water feature - grand designs

Image: Rick McCullagh 

While the overall grounds have been landscaped in a contemporary style, it's the access stairs to the basement level of this new build in London that provides an interesting site for additional gardening. 

A series of containers runs alongside these steps, featuring planting as well as a water feature, helping to blur the boundaries between indoors and out, and retain the connection to nature for this subterranean space. 


Which of these sloped gardens is your favourite? Let us know by tweeting us @granddesigns or posting a comment on our Facebook page



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