June 19, 2019
The gardens of Kent and Sussex can often carry features that are very characteristic of the local area, elements for which the team at Dewlands Garden Design are well prepared. We’ve invested in techniques that allow us to design your garden in a very methodical, systematic and structured way, that adds value, practicality and beauty to your outdoor space – and we’re particularly good at doing this with the gardens of Kent and Sussex.
The sloping gardens of the Kent and Sussex countryside
One characteristic we see a lot of in Kent and Sussex homes is a sloping garden, and no matter what size your property is, the full potential of the slope has very rarely been unlocked. We love the challenge posed by a sloping garden, and we’re determined not to be daunted by it, but to embrace it. “Even with the bigger gardens that I encounter that might have historically had some work done – such as a bit of terracing – generally, they haven’t made the most of the site,” comments Eugene Hill, founder of Dewlands Garden Design. “The trick with gardens like that is not to let it overwhelm you. Sloping gardens can be really attractive; the changes of levels make transition from one area to another very natural, and it doesn’t always have to be done with steps. You can use ramps, utilising the natural contours of the space, or you can build terraces which segregate sections of the garden into outdoor rooms, with the different levels and planting making it really interesting.”
It’s all well and good setting out to turn a garden into varied terraces or creating a walkway that follows natural contours, but it’s important that it’s all done properly to create the best results with the space available: “You have to survey and measure to make it work – something that I’ve made sure I do well, informed by my engineering background. I use a clever gizmo that lets me take a profile of the slope; I then put that data into software which allows me to model that chunk of land in 3D. I can then make the decisions that add the most value and work best with the space available. I can work out the cuts and fills for that particular landscape.
“Using these tools has been a real investment on my part, not just in terms of money, but it’s taken a tremendous amount of time learning how to use it well. It helps me to build 3D models which include the shape of the land, the house and other key features such as walls, allowing me to check things with virtual reality before actually doing it so I’m not just winging it when the work starts – I use accurate and precise measurements.
“So, I’d say the first trick to dealing with Kent and Sussex gardens is to be set up to deal with slopes. That means having the tools and creativity to come up with practical and interesting solutions, and then the skills to carry them out. For example, one garden I recently completed had a very sloping shape and so I designed a series of terraces and found a natural contour that beautifully connects the levels to add a lovely structure to the garden.”
Kent and Sussex building materials
At Dewlands Garden Design, we appreciate locally sourced, Kent and Sussex building materials: “In the old days, bricks, stones, timber and clay were all sourced from the local area – not shipped in from miles and miles. And – particularly when we work on the more traditional buildings – we must have a feel for the local vernacular. I do a lot of work with Sussex sandstone, which is very typical of Rotherfield, Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells; they’ve all got bands of sandstone under the ground which I use regularly. Sussex sandstone is a great building material, particularly for walls. I either buy it reclaimed, which has a lovely aged look to it, or if I’m going for something more modern or architectural, I go to a supplier in West Hoathly who has a commercial quarry.”
Understanding the lay of the local land is one of the keys to successful garden design. Coming prepared to deal with whatever the Kent and Sussex countryside throws at us is one of our fortes and we love to incorporate materials that the local area is renowned for.