Frogheath Portfolio May 2012

Frogheath Landscapes were asked to create a lake for the owners of this large garden in East Sussex.  We had built the garden of their previous house and had built up an excellent relationship with the clients and we were delighted to be asked back to their new project.

The house was being extensively remodelled and a large, contemporary kitchen was built onto the side of the house.  The clients realised that the ground levels around the house blocked their view from the new kitchen over their new lake and asked us back again to come up with ideas to solve the problem.

They asked for a large paved terrace to provide an attractive, functional and interesting space for entertaining.  The house had been added to over the years by various owners in different styles and so they were keen to soften the appearance of the house with planting and disguise some of its odd angles with a strong landscape design.  They also wanted more water, particularly moving water to help mask the noise of a nearby main road and ways to link the new garden to the surrounding woodland.

The Design process

The initial challenge we faced was pitching our ideas against those of the architects working on the house.  Steve Moody came up with the basic concept with the help of Henry Duck, a recently qualified landscape architect who had worked for Frogheath from the age of 13.

Unusually, we decided against having detailed layout plans drawn up because we knew the clients well and thought they would understand our ideas better through a different approach.  Instead, we flew in our secret weapon, a friend from Hamburg, Martina Bönch who works for the German nursery Lorenz Von Ehren.   Martina has a great talent for creating fast, hand drawn 3D sketches of gardens and during our meeting with the clients and the architects was able to demonstrate the different views the clients could expect from our concept. As hoped, we were asked to proceed with the project.

The Design

The layout consists of a series of large paved terraces and sharply defined rectangular lawns.  Two large connecting ponds on different level provide the sound of running water and also act as reflecting pools, bringing the surrounding woodland closer to the house.  To open up the view over the lake the ground level in one section has been dropped and the entrance to the woodland marked with a suitably large timber pergola and a David Harber stone ball water feature.

The Build

The clients were determined that all existing material should be recycled and reused on site. The existing Indian sandstone was relaid on a lower level next to the lake and sawn Scoutmoor sandstone was used to pave the new terraces.  The existing Purbeck retaining walls were in a poor condition and the client wanted them to look more like dry stone walls.  Frogheath built new block walls for structural strength and then reused the Purbeck stone to create the effect that the client wanted.  The walls now provide interesting texture against the smooth surfaces of the sandstone paving and water.

A structural engineer was brought in to specify the two ponds because we suspected that some of the ground had been made up by a previous owner. He advised us about ground conditions and specified the steel work for the pond structure.  The pump and filter equipment for the ponds was hidden under the stepping stone walkway separating the two ponds and the client uses the larger pond as a swimming pool in the summer.

The flow of water between the ponds was particularly important to get right.  We wanted the water to have an attractive soundand for the flow to look unbroken across the 6m width of the waterfall. We solved this by chopping up and welding together 6 stainless steel letterbox waterfall sections so that they acted as one unit and building them into the stone wall. This successfully created the desired effect and sound.

The project took 18 months to complete, just in time for a large summer party.

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