A Garden of Levels, York

About This Project

The brief for this garden outside York was to create grown up spaces for entertaining, and room for grandchildren to play. An unusual space to the rear of a newly build property, it was laid out in three levels – the last being a considerable drop to a long lawn via a flood defence wall.

South-facing and overlooking the Fulford Ings, our task was to make the most of the views whilst resolving the awkward layout of the top levels and the drop to the lawn. As the lower lawn has historically flooded from the river at the south boundary, planting in this area needed to be flood tolerant.

The design sees the top levels re-worked, to create a shallower upper zone near the kitchen doors and an enlarged lower level, allowing us to accommodate a large dining space and L-shaped seating area. In the dining area we have included an outside fridge and bbq, and a shelved area with herbs in planters. The seating area features a fire table.

We kept to a close colour palette of greys, off-white, dark wood and bronze – with porcelain tiles, rendered walls and modern Yorkstone steps and copings.

The client’s love of topiary is reflected in crisp hedges of Osmanthus burkwoodii, cloud-pruned box and a row of rooftop mulberries, which offer shade and unify the design. A simple planting of roses, scented climbers and an umbrella wisteria complete the upper planting.

In the lower lawn, we have laid out flood-tolerant Amelanchier lamarckii, underplanted with squares of narcissi, camassia. Hydrangeas and a weeping willow soften the boundary and frame the pirate ship for the grandchildren.

Images show the proposed design and garden pre-build.