Tiered Garden, Bristol

The Garden Brief

The existing garden was dominated by an imposing wooden staircase linking the roof terrace to the main garden. Paving slabs, poured concrete circular steps and cobbles covered the space. Overgrown planting enclosed the atmosphere and blocked the light.

The clients wanted a family friendly space which harmoniously linked the different levels. Furthermore they wanted a beautiful view framed by the large glazed doors on the lower ground level kitchen. 

Space for the kids to play with the swing ball, a roof terrace which was inviting for bare feet, beautiful planting, moving water and a sunny place to sit back and enjoy the garden from all formed the garden brief.

The Garden Design

With the garden design I looked to maximise the available space in the garden. It is a relatively small sized garden for a family home. In its existing format it felt uninviting and cramped.

First I removed the existing chunky staircase in order to completely open up the space. I designed an elegant powder coated galvanised steel spiral staircase, with timber treads to match the new roof decking. This staircase created a space saving link between levels. In addition it creates beautiful shadow patterns across the lower paving. The staircase was crafted beautifully by Almondsbury Forge who also made elegant railings along the roof terrace to replace the rotting chunky timber ones.

Captured through the rear glazed facade of the kitchen is a beautiful framed view onto the garden. On the lower kitchen level I created an intimate and shady courtyard to catch the morning light. A bubbling water bowl and luscious layers of planting create a calm and tranquil space. Planting at ground level and a stepped border softens the level change. As a result the new retaining wall is completely lost within textural green.

Shallow, elegant and easy steps link the lower courtyard to the main area of the garden. On the upper terrace the dining terrace catches the best of the sunlight through the day. Additionally the last of the light fall In it location it also enjoys the last of the light which falls in the gap between the neighbouring properties.

Tiered Garden Design

The garden is East facing and surrounded by tall properties. It is therefore quite shady. It was important to carefully assess and analyse the sun movement in the garden into order to successfully turn what felt like a shady, damp garden into a warm and sunny space. The sunlight was there, we just needed to find it and maximise it.

On one boundary there was a strange bricked up gap. We turned this into a false timber gate to provide the illusion of more garden beyond. I softened all the boundaries with climbers on new stainless steel wires. An ornamental cherry and hibiscus provide height to the garden. Both are a sentimental touch to bring an element of the client’s previous Hong Kong home to their new garden.

The lawn and dining terrace next to each other together form the hub and heart of the garden. Space for play and entertaining.

The roof terrace was completely renovated. With the client we chose a new Kebony timber deck surface. This provides a lovely warm surface to step out onto barefoot. A large raised planting bed brings softness, movement and textural green to the roof terrace. I created a sneaky shed underneath the new planting bed. Access to the shed is from the main terrace in the garden. A space saving storage idea which makes use of a strange cavity between the house and the boundary. Furthermore this rationalises the awkward existing retaining wall against the boundary. Turning it into a path between the hidden shed and the dining terrace.

I reconfigured the route from the side door to the roof terrace to expand the width of the roof terrace right across the garden. As a result this creates a more enjoyable simple pathway and allows the headspace required for the shed.

By rationalising awkward level changes, introducing carefully considered details and creative thinking I could bring calm simplification to the garden.

What before felt cramped, dark and uninviting is now a welcoming garden which the clients love to go out into.

I designed this garden whilst working in the Artisan Landscapes design team who built the garden.

The photos are taken during planting of the garden, more photos to follow this spring/summer.

Tiered Garden Design
Tiered Garden Design
Tiered Garden Design
Tiered Garden

Tiered Garden Before:

Tiered Garden Design
Tiered Garden Design