Front landscaping: How to disguise a steep slope

Those with a keen eye might have noticed that our Surrey Hills HIA Award Winning property as featured last week in the Melbourne Weekly has since had a landscaping makeover.

Not long after the home was completed, the owners presented us with the next challenge:

How can they landscape the front garden of their home while gracefully overcoming a 2.4m height differential between footpath and front door?


Front landscaping: How to disguise a steep slope

When given the brief to landscape the front garden of our HIA Award Winning home, there were two significant factors to address:

– Height differential of 2.4m from the street footpath to the front door

– Significant water run off that previously flowed towards the house

Front Landscaping: Before work commenced

The photo above shows the slope of the front garden prior to landscaping.

Note the former retaining walls that reinforced the sense of height and the significance of the slope. Needless to say, these older retaining walls had to go.

Front Landscaping: Detail of the retaining walls and timber steps during build

The photo above shows the landscaping mid-way through completion (as seen from the front porch looking up towards the pavement).


– The choice of the lowest point of the pavement as the entrance to the property. This enables the pathway to have the least height differential to overcome.

– The wide and long timber ‘landings’ whose dimensions give the illusion of a gentler incline than if regular ‘steps’ were to be used.

– Positioning and orientation of the new, lower profile retaining walls that more closely followed the natural contours of the site and therefore minimised excavation. The added benefit of minimal excavation is that the site retains more natural permeability.

Front landscaping: After Design + Build completed

Almost finished!

The photo above shows the landscaping nearing completion (planting is still yet to done).

In particular, note the additional flat garden ‘court’ that extends the front deck area and creates a very usable play area for the children. Clever design of the retaining walls, allowed room for this very usable garden ‘extension’ while still leaving the area open and spacious.

We’ll be sure to give you an update once soft landscaping has been completed and plants have matured!

Front Landscaping: Conclusion

The brief for this difficult site was to design and build a beautiful landscaped garden that would somehow disguise a rather steep slope.

The combination of a number of factors helped us to create the illusion that the slope was gentler than it really was:

– Selection of lowest point where pavement meets property threshold for pathway access

– Use of long and wide timber ‘landings’ rather than traditional ‘steps’

– Strategic positioning and orientation of new lower profile, retaining walls

– Creation of green ‘court’ areas to leave the garden feeling open and spacious