A Garden Full of Fun Features

The challenge

Wilmott Derbyshire Sloping Garden before transformation
A railway track and a hot tub were just two of the unusual features we needed to accommodate in the garden design for this modern detached property in Derbyshire.

At present, the garden consisted of a sloped lawn and tarmac driveway. The owners wanted us to transform this outdoor space, making it an exciting and fun place for both children and grown-ups.

The concept

Our first task was to remove the existing grass and create two levels; the top tier containing a lawn, patio and hot tub area, and the lower a second lawn, a train track and seating space. Both new lawns were shaped, lined and levelled with top soil.
The Garden design included train line and waterfall.
To retain the upper level, we used pressure-treated railway sleepers lined with a damp proof membrane and 10mm pea gravel to protect the timbers from the soil. The railway sleepers were supported by 4×4 timber support posts, fixed together using timber lock fixing screws and set approximately 750mm into the ground and backfilled with concrete to give extra strength.

The upper level: patio and hot tub space

On the top level, sandstone paving flowed from the house around the corner to the hot tub area. Trellis screening panels were installed around the hot tub to give privacy and block the view of the driveway. The space between the paving area and the drive was lined with a geotextile membrane and topped with a 50mm layer of Cotswold cream chippings. This gave us a drainage section that blended in with the paving and helped with overflow water from the hot tub.

We then installed uplights to illuminate the hot tub area. Sleeper steps were constructed along the side of the garden and neighbour’s fence line to retain soil between the two gardens. LED lights were positioned along these steps with up and down lighters along the main retaining wall.

The lower level: a railway track and bridge

On the lower level, sandstone paving was laid to create seating space around an existing tree. All the paved areas were dug down to an approximate depth of 150mm and lined with geotextile membrane for extra strength. The sandstone paving was laid on a full mortar bed and grouted using an eco-fill grouting compound, which is resin-based and prevents weeds growing through the new stones.

Now we had the lower level in place, we designed the footprint for the train tracks and dug out and installed a concrete sub-base. This gave us a solid foundation for the tracks to sit on and once they were in place, we lined the concrete with 10mm gravel.

Next, we installed a small bridge across a stream. The track running across the bridge was secured with the other side left free to allow for movement. At the bottom of the garden, we built a secure shed with a hinged roof where the train will be stored.

Safe and secure for children, even the waterfall

The next eye-catching feature we installed in this unique garden was a cascading waterfall and stream that flowed into the railway zone. We made all the water pools child-friendly and lined them with gravel and pebbles. An overflow water tank was set into the floor of the main pebble pool to hold and pump the water. To highlight these new features, we installed spotlights to focus on the stream and waterfalls and bollard lights on the seating area by the train track.

To create a safe barrier to stop any of our client’s grandchildren going over the edge of the new wall, we built a trellis along the top of the sleeper retainer. The trellis rail runs along the side of the steps to form a safe barrier and hand rail.

Feather board panel fencing was erected across the bottom of the garden to give security and height along a public footpath. Underneath the fencing, we installed a small retaining wall using railway sleepers to hold back the soil and stop the land from slipping onto the footpath.

Of course, this original garden needed to be complemented by a new driveway. Using Marshalls tegula blocks with contrasting edging, we transformed the old tarmac drive. We also removed the line drains and replaced them with an Aco drainage system, then changed and recessed the manhole covers, so they blended in with the new driveway.

The conclusion

Lovely landscaped garden in Derbyshire with train line, patio and waterfallA railway track, a cascading waterfall and a hot tub – this garden was designed to appeal to grandparents, grandchildren and anyone in between.

Our clients were delighted with the look of their amazing new garden. They were also reassured that all the unusual features they’d incorporated were designed and fitted to ensure complete safety for their young grandchildren. Which means they can now just sit back and relax in that hot tub!

Click the video below to see what Mr & Mrs Wilmott say about Leicestershire Garden Design and their beautiful new dream garden!


Thank you Mr & Mrs Wilmott, It was a pleasure working with you – Team LGD

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