A Challenge not for the
Having worked on several extremely difficult sloped gardens with restricted access in the past, being invited to look at Goyt House by Mr D Keegan & owner Mr Warren Dickson was an exciting opportunity.
Upon our first site meeting in September 2017, the sheer scale of the project became apparent, with the property being accessed down a single country lane with a limited weight restriction & a long narrow drive leading to a car parking area. I could clearly see that if anything was going to take place here there needed to be a meticulous planning schedule of works.
The clients brief was for him to be able to get from the top of the slope to the bottom, giving him access to the area which had never been possible or safe before. Steps & walkways would be the easiest way to approach this issue, separating the severe slope in several planting areas.
To try to reduce the impact of heavy plant machinery & the need for large amounts of materials in the reforming of the slope & the construction of the steps, I designed steel steps & walkways running down & across the slope, mainly floating but supported in areas with driven piled legs. A considerable amount of time was spent designing & costing the framework.
Even though this was an off-the-shelf fabrication, the cost came above the client’s budget & the project was put on hold until the new year. In March 2018 I was approached again to rethink the project & to see if I could find a more cost-effective solution within the client’s budget.
Back to the drawing board.
With the client seeing some of our past work with Gabion baskets & also liked the idea of dry-stone walling, I designed the steps & walkways to be constructed using the two together.
The client’s first choice was to use Cotswold walling stone in the construction of the baskets. However, having worked with Johnsons Wellfield Natural Yorkshire stone in the past, plus a two hour travelling distance between the two companies; it was a far more cost-effective option.
In September 2018 exactly 12 months later from when I first looked at this project & after several other contractors turning it down, we made a start.
The stone gets delivered loose to site & is individually size sorted & then hand cropped for use later, with very little waste.
Our first week was brutal, with deliveries of.
150 Galvanised steel Gabion Baskets.
30 ton of 40-75mm clean stone.
80 ton used in total.
20 ton of 20-40mm clean stone.
40 ton used in total.
10 ton of Type 1.
30 ton used in total.
12 ton of walling stone.
36 ton used in total.
The storage area on the drive was extremely tight & was slightly hampered by the early delivery of over 700 shrubs, trees & plants.
I constructed a temporary three zone irrigation system for the shrubs to keep the maintenance to a minimum until they were needed for planting.
Once a temporary access road had been made, the initial work on constructing the baskets could start.
Working from the furthest point on the upper level first.
We started to excavate & lay the stone subbase for the basket construction & leaving the land around.
This area is later to become a decking area with an outside kitchen BBQ.
Main slope & gabion steps.
Starting at the very lowest point of the slope, with a number of excavators set out at different stages, we started to excavate for the baskets.
As each basket was completed the surrounding soiled area would be formed as getting back down to do this later would have been impossible.
At this stage 30 ton of As Dug topsoil was imported to form the new shape of the slope.
Where the slope became severe, rather than use more gabion baskets, it was decided to retain the ground with timber sleepers to soften the area.
These would be painted later to match the timber screen we fitted later.
Soft wood timber frame for decking area & wall cladding.
The finished project
We had always dreamt of landscaping our garden and when we finally got round to it it was vital we had a team that could deliver our dream. We chose PDG StoneCraft for the hard landscaping and we were not disappointed. The work was complex and extremely time consuming but the wait was worth it as the final garden was beyond our expectations. We cannot thank Paul and his team enough and would strongly recommend them to anybody looking to work with true professionals”Warren and Ruth Dickson, Marple Bridge