This garden had to be low maintenance, hold the interest of a 5 year old & add value to the house. Primarily it had to feel very comfortable & relaxing to be in. A lot to ask of an area only 12 yards by 8.
Read the project, ask yourself how good it would be to relax in a garden like this in furniture you dont have to put in the shed every five minutes ! Click on the all weather garden furniture images available from Celebration Furniture - outdoor all-weather specialists to get the full story.
The designer collection of outdoor furniture on offer from Celebration Furniture - outdoor all-weather specialists has an outdoor life of 15 years....Thats longer than your decking !!!
Please click on images below to enlarge them.
From this...........................................................To this !
This project was undertaken over the course of several weeks. Parts of it are very involved indeed. It would take pages and pages of text to explain every procedure and construction element. Enlarge the pictures to see how the construction was achieved.
We must, at this point, offer a big thank you to our garden designer Adrian Marshall.
The first step was to get some help. For those who are concerned; this little lady was not really the digger driver...........She was the BOSS !
OK, down to business: The first step involving any project with "running water" is to make sure you have got the levels correct. Water will not run uphill. An easy to use, site level, can be hired from your local tool hire shop. Generally you will get a basic set of instructions with it....Do not guess or skimp, you will only want to do the job once so get it right the first time.
You will get a staff and a tripod when you hire the level. Unless you are a pro, the staff is difficult to master so you can use a batten or even a broom handle. Contact above for more info.
The next step for us was to import some scalpings as the weather was awful and the mud was being trampled everywhere...Its hard work getting them in but makes life so much easier when they are laid
We had worked out our levels, and raised one end of the garden, from which we were going to start the stream. The holding pond, stream & main pond were then excavated and lined with sand.
The sand is a precautionary measure against stones puncturing the pond liner. Even though we used liner underlay. As mentioned before, we only wanted to do this once!
As you can see, top right, its time to build the cave. This was constructed by bending lengths of reinforcing bar to a curve, and placing them inside a circular foundation we had concreted approximately 12 inches below the ground level. A "dwarf wall" was built around this foundation, with the top at ground level. This wall formed the sides of the holding pond and the front of it was an inch lower than the back. This made sure that the water, when the holding pond was full, would run over this part of the wall only and down the stream.
Once the steel was in place, we covered it with some mesh, this is called expanded metal lathing and is a galvanised mesh which will not rust. EML for short. This is "tied" to the steel bars with reinforcing tie wire or you could even use small cable / rose ties. Next the EML is rendered using a waterproof additive in the mix. Three coats of render where needed to make sure the cave was waterproof...Once water gets into a structure, the cold weather, (of which we get plenty) freezes it. Frozen water expands, when it thaws it contracts. This movement inside a structure, no matter how small, produces cracks. These cracks let in more water etc. This is why you see a lot of porous bricks that have lost their "face".
The next step was to lay the stone to form the cave. This construction had to include the pipe from the pond pump within it, so a waterfall effect could be created over the opening to the cave. You can just see the pipe sticking out at the top.
Now to line the pond and stream...Thick pond liner laid on pond liner underlay...Again do not skimp on the liner, especially if you have children. It needs to be really heavy duty, because they will not be able to resist a little paddle !....We created the holding pond especially for that reason. Together with the cave, there is much fun to be had in there. Before we lined it, we built a paving stone bench inside and applied another coat of render, which we smoothed with a sponge....This is now being covered with a beautiful array of "cave paintings" !
When the liner was in we had to fill the pond for the first time. This will allow the liner to take the shape of the hole...If you set any edge stones first, the weight of the water will pull the liner and move everything around the edge. Make sure you allow enough liner for this to happen and not leave you with a liner edge halfway up the pond sides. It also gave us the opportunity to test the pump and the pipe we had buried along the back wall of the garden and up over the cave roof.
You will no doubt notice that we had constructed a small play area from sawn logs and bark...We placed weed fabric under this first, which we did for all areas of the garden.
Time to start the decking: Not a complicated process, although the levels need to be spot on. Contact above for more info. Make sure all the timbers you use are treated and that they do not come in contact with the ground where any water can sit. You will see from the close up, we installed damp proof membranes and weed fabric under the timbers, and chocked them up wherever possible.
The decking slats are simply screwed to the frame. ( we did not nail these because we have cables running underneath to provide power to the pumps and lights. This enables us to get at the junction boxes should we need to, without destroying the deck. The decking overhangs the frame by about 15 inches.
Now time to put the summer house up. Simple 4 post construction, concreted into the ground. A hipped roof cut to take plain tiles with bonnet hips...The bamboo and trellis was an afterthought and works really well.
We have to admit it is not the clearest picture in the world, but you may be able to see that we "thatched" the ceiling with something called Heather Roll or Heather Screen. You will see some more on the "pump house" later.
The pump house went up next. This contains a UV & standard filter, which is fed, singularly, by a small pump. The water is pumped from the pond, through the filters and straight back into the pond.
The main pump takes water from the pond, through a 32mm pipe, along the garden wall and to the cave. It splits here, on a valve, to feed directly into the holding pond and, with a turn of the valve, over the cave to form the water fall. The "pump house" also contains the switched connection for "Dribble" our Lion.
We placed the bridge to the play area to keep the little ones out of the stream....Some hope ! And paths to define walkways. Crushed slate was introduced as a ground covering.
The overall ground effect was now complete...Then a brilliant idea by our designer! A simple curve of reinforcing steel fixed to the garden wall in a curve...This will allow the plants either side to "creep" over in an arch and form a very attractive screen from the upper floor windows of the neighbours gardens.
A path was added at the rear of the garden to allow access to a panel that was fixed into a purpose made opening from the road
And let's not forget the water feature:
Garden by Night:
All project content written and produced by Mike Edwards
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