Urban SuDS: Restoring a front garden

What?: Cleared and terraced the steep slope of a large weedy front garden to make it a usable space, using some small SuDS methods

Where?: Luddendenfoot, Halifax

When?: April/May 2020

Design and implementation: The large garden at the front of our house is separated from it by a small lane. We rarely maintained or used it, due to the size of it and the prolific number of invasive species, brambles and weeds prevalent in the garden.

The top half of the garden was already landscaped and needed no attention. However, the bottom half was separated by a fence so we could not see the significant amount of work needed to bring it back to use. So, during the Covid-19 Lockdown and while on furlough, I decided to tackle it.

The plan was to continue the path from the upper part of the garden down to the bottom and to make some terraced and usable beds for perennial plants. Then to re-purpose the bottom of the garden which would make a quiet seating area, well away from the road.

Clearing all of the invasive species, weeds and brambles took a long time but this was helped by the sheeting I had laid in previous years. We had a particular issue with significant amounts of bind weed, Himalayan Balsam and vast brambles which had taken over this part of the garden in great quantities. You can see the extent of this in the ‘before’ picture.

The question was what to replace this with once cleared.. I needed to think about  how I was going to  achieve a low maintenance, low cost, attractive, useable garden, whilst replicating the role of the weeds in soaking up water, and ideally improving the overall impact on flood alleviation.

Lawns are a collection of thousands of oxygen-producing plants. Healthy lawns are remarkably efficient at oxygen production and a 25-square-foot area of healthy lawn grasses like mine produces enough oxygen each day to meet all the oxygen needs of one adult. Lawns also annually take in about 5 percent of the carbon dioxide in the earth so I thought I would make a small contribution to this and lay turf at the bottom of the garden. This was going to be far more preferable than having bind weed and Himalayan balsam, which was becoming more untenable
as the years went on.

The other challenge was clearing the old pathways made of very unattractive concrete slabs. We took up the 25 metres of concrete path and this was replaced by 2 tonnes of trent pea gravel, which now allows the water to soak into the ground below. It also looks a lot nicer and
gave the garden some consistency as we had gravel already laid at the top of the garden.

The result is we now have a weed free garden and almost no hard surfaces for rain water to run off. We have gravel, very good quality soil and grass in a garden measuring around 100 foot long by 30 foot wide.

Benefits and constraints: 

The main challenge was getting materials down the garden, which has a significant slope and steps to negotiate. 2 tonnes of gravel and 40 rolls of turf takes a lot of effort, but thanks to excellent neighbours, this was achieved in just one day. once the garden was prepared.

The benefit of having formalised the terraces should be that water is encouraged to sit for longer on the flatter surfaces, rather than pour off the slope. 

The replacement of hard paved surfaces with gravel has reduced the speed and amount of run off, slowing the flow by providing attenuation capacity in the gravel’s void spaces.

Drone footage by Ellis Crossland

You can see from the before and after photos the difference this work has done aesthetically and practically.  The drone footage also illustrates how these methods have resulted in a low maintenance / low cost solution to a fairly large space.  (Drone footage courtesy of Ellis Crossland).

Further opportunities: We have one shed with a sloped roof which will be utilised next time as a green roof. We will also use water butts to attenuate any surplus water which runs off the green roof.


The total cost of this project was around £600
2 tonnes of Trent Pea gravel – £220
Turf – £100
Fencing and Paint £250
Incidentals – £30
Plants – £0 all donated
Stone – £0 all donated


I did most of this myself with some help from neighbours.