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Garden construction

Help solve your gardening problem. Here are the answers to some commonly asked gardening questions about garden construction and hard landscaping with hints, tips and advice.

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My parents' garden slopes down towards their patio, and to improve the drains they have had some work done that has cut back the lawn area. This now means that where the patio ends there is a new drainage channel covered over with nice gravel. Then the lawn starts, about 1.5 ft vertically above that, so that it is impossible not to see this clay face under the grass (like a cliff face rising up from the gravel).

Dad is adamant that there can be no wall or any other solid structure to hide this clay face, in order that water draining through the clay will reach the new drains. (He is in favour of standing some of those rolls of half-logs up against the face - Mum is not). Mum is in despair at how to hide this ugly view.

This is a difficult one. Obviously there is no way - is there? - of reducing the drop from lawn to patio - i.e. take away some of the soil to make the slope more gradual. This would be the obvious solution if it can be done.

You won't be able to grow any plants in the clay face successfully, so you're limited to hiding it. Log roll would work well - and it could be painted and made into a feature if your mum really hates it. You could attach pot holders to it and grow trailing plants in pots.

Another option would be to buy rolls of split bamboo, heather or similar which makes an attractive backdrop.

If all else fails then you would have to stand plants in pots in front to partially disguise it.

If it were my problem, I'd: first try and slope the ground more to remove the clay face once and for all; second use split bamboo fencing.

I have a 9m (30ft) long front garden that runs up a fairly steep incline (standing at the top you can see into the front bedroom!). I been thinking about terracing the garden to make it easier to maintain and was wondering which materials you would recommend for constructing the terraces?

A lot depends on your bank balance!

Personally I would go for brick but it is the most expensive - and needs a formal garden to set it off.

If the wallet is a bit smaller and the garden is to be more informal, then I would use tanalised wood. Personally, I don't like railway sleepers - they're far too bulky for small gardens and look out of place. Garden centres and DIY stores will sell smaller versions which are more attractive and more in keeping.


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