Dorset Design Build; Case Study – Heritage Style

The Brief
Where possible, we love to feature locally sourced materials, and this project in Swanage presented a great opportunity to do so, in an area of outstanding historical beauty.

The garden had become overgrown and required drastic measures to address issues regarding uneven levels, unusable space and unmanaged planting. The side access to the garden was inaccessible and somewhat dangerous, whilst the grassed land to the west of the site was mounded and was unusable as a lawn space.

Despite the various issues regarding the garden’s existing layout, the site held a large amount of potential. Historical rooftops to the east of the site created a picturesque view looking outward, whilst to the west, a large historical church towered above the village.


ABOVE: Before

The Design
Our objectives during the design process were simple: re-establish levels and reclaim usable space—the rest was up to our team to craft and implement an exceptional, new look.

Work in Progress
Our first major challenge was to reclaim the land to the west. A strategy was devised to invert the current layout and convert the planted space into lawn, and the mounded lawn into a terraced planting area. By creating a retaining wall to secure a single level across the top of the garden, we reclaimed usable space in which we created a seating area looking out over the historical rooftops surrounding the property. The wall was constructed using Dorset Oak sleepers and gave a very organic feel to the garden.

Our second strategy was to convert the eastern part of the site from formal beds to a large lawn space. In creating the retaining wall, we maximised the lowest tier’s usable space and completely transformed the garden. A seating platform was created, designed to look west towards the historic church and connect with the local landmarks.

To strengthen the connection to its context, we felt that it was important to mimic materials found in the surrounding area. To do this, we sourced local woods, stone and foliage to re-enforce a sense of heritage. Purbeck stone was used within the seating platforms to connect with the materials used in the house’s construction and neighbouring buildings, and the existing Purbeck dry stonewalls were restored to their former glory. Purbeck chippings were also used to form pathways connecting the platforms and strengthening the material connection.

Having created two sun platforms, we decided to build a shaded seating area to the south of the site; thus we designed a natural pergola, using handpicked Dorset Cedar. The pergola was designed to have climbing jasmine around the outside to add both visual and sensory stimulation to the shaded hangout.

The last feature added to the garden was a bespoke water feature created using a large Purbeck boulder. This element was added to the lower eastern platform to give the tranquil sound of running water and act as a stunning focal point.

The Planting
The site’s planting was broken up into four zones: sun, shade, woodland and sweep. The woodland planting was situated at the southern shaded area of the site; Atmospheric ferns, Liriope and Hellebors were among some of the planting introduced within this area, to bring vivacious colour and definition where it preciously lacked.

The sun planting was designed to add interest and height around the two respective sun platforms, whilst aromatic herbs were also introduced into the eastern border to be used by the client.

A sweep of grasses and flowing plants were added onto the central border that surrounds the lawn. This was designed to flow with the wind and formalise the edge of the space. Shaded planting was added at the northern side of the site as the house blocked the majority of light in the garden.

Lastly, to connect with the site’s local context, Virginia Creepers were added to flow down the sleeper wall and add a bit of atmosphere to the garden, as homage to a neighbouring pub that has the same creepers completely covering the building.



The End Result
This project was challenging but rewarding in that our client now has a usable and safe garden that makes good use of previously unusable space, and connects to its local surroundings.

Whilst designing, we like to give context to a garden and give a strong sense of place. Dorset is an incredibly beautiful part of the United Kingdom and many of its local sites hold a lot of history. A good use of materials and design intentions can really unlock a gardens potential and link it to its setting.

Dorset Design Build; At Your Service
Dorset Design Build are the designers and makers of truly inspiring landscaping, the likes of which give homeowners a completely new found love for their gardens. With over 20 years experience, and an exacting eye for detail their team of talented builders bring their matchless designs (or indeed the designs of others) to life, using the finest quality materials and construction-minded technique. So, whether you’re looking for a remodelled hedgerow or a full renovation, get in-touch and find out what they could do for you.

For more information contact Dorset Design Build on:
t. 01202 981669

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