pp logo2

(0)1243 537977

It is with great sadness we report the sudden death of Michael Packard on Wednesday June 1st 2022.

The family are working through his affairs, and as such, no trading is possible that would usually have occurred through Michael himself, however some books are still available from his distributors.

For anything urgent, email   but please be aware that this address is infrequently monitored.

Your patience and understanding will be appreciated through this difficult period.

Designing Gardens on Slopes

Designing Gardens on Slopes
  • Date of publication: December 2012
  • ISBN-10: 1 85341 138 8
  • Paperback ISBN-13: 978 1 85341 138 0 (paperback)
  • Pages: 94
  • Images: 58 colour photos, and 64 line & CAD drawings and plans
  • Dimensions: A4 landscape format, 210 x 297 mm
  • Weight: 430 grams unwrapped; 509 grams packaged
Author(s): Ruth Chivers and Liz Davies


Designing real gardens on slopes for real people forms the central core of this book. It demonstrates that making plans for gardens on slopes of all types really works. Not only that, they are a necessary part of the process of turning challenging sites into attractive gardens. This is a really useful book that shows how good design helps to avoid costly common mistakes. It is a simple and informative guide detailing from survey to construction and planting.

Not many gardens are completely flat. Just one step in a garden makes a big difference, adding more interest to the site. But slopes do present more of a challenge when designing gardens and definitely add to the expense of a building project.

A select portfolio of beautifully designed gardens shows projects from start to finish. These are not simply attractive garden plans – they actually work! Not only does this book inspire, it will show how to master hilly sites. There are currently no books that deal specifically with this common problem: in fact, in many books, designing gardens on slopes is barely mentioned. Students of garden design, qualified garden and landscape designers, landscape builders and architects, and owners of sloping gardens will therefore find this book particularly useful.



The Design Brief - First meeting with clients: Portfolio and Budget; Client Wish List to Design Brief; Budget and Design Brief; Summary - Taking a Full Client Brief. Surveying Slopes - Surveying Sloping Gardens; Measuring Levels; Level Surveying Basics; Datum Points and Reduced Levels; Typical Garden Survey Abbreviations; Recording Relevant Information; Summary - Surveying Slopes, Essential Information. Communicating Design Ideas - Functional Basics; Designing for Slopes; Design Principles; Dimensions of Key Features; One garden, Three Ideas; Summary - Design Idea Essentials. Design Presentation - Communicating the Design; Making Plans Easier to Understand; Ground Shaping; Design Presentation Summary. Groundworks and Construction - Cut and Fill; Mistakes to Avoid; Moving Soil Around Trees; Summary of Essentials. Steps, Retaining Walls and Rock Gardens - Steps; Guidelines for Step Dimensions; Summary - Steps; Retaining Walls and Summary; Rocks and Boulders; Gabions; Building Regulations and British Standards for Sloping Gardens. Ground Surfaces - Summary; Portfolio of 6 Garden Projects. Soil and Planting on Slopes - Soil Erosion on Slopes; Examples of Materials Used in Geotextiles; Planting on Slopes; Plants for Covering Slopes and Stabilizing Soil; Grasses for Planting on Slopes’ Alpines for Planting on Slopes, and Other Plants for Rock and Scree Gardens. Further Reading, Index.


Students of garden design or landscaping; landscape architects; serious gardeners.



… This is a veritable gem of a book. A really comprehensive and useful step-by-step guide … that shows how good design can avoid common and costly mistakes when dealing with a bumpy topography. Aimed primarily at students of garden and landscape design … [the book] provides the two things that I feel are really necessary when teaching a subject that combines art and science: it has lots of excellent illustrations and visuals and it deals in depth with the nitty-gritty of the practical construction side …’

Laura O’Mahony in Compass, journal of the GLDA, Ireland.

‘Very few gardens are completely flat and working with sloping sites can be a real challenge to even experienced garden designers. Sloping sites offer the opportunity to create variety and interest but also the risk of adding cost and complexity. This useful, highly illustrated book contains many sketches, drawings, plans and photos to guide the reader through taking the brief, surveying sloping sites, design ideas and lots of technical information about the design and construction of steps, retaining walls and ramps. A section on mistakes to avoid is particularly relevant to anyone starting out in a career in garden design … The portfolio section of real projects showing the survey, the design process and before and after photos really brings the technical information to life. There is a useful mix of hand drawn and CAD plans and visuals showing that they both have their place in the designer’s arsenal … This excellent book is a welcome addition to the limited teaching material available to help students and new garden designers when faced with working on a sloping site.’

Janine Pattison in The Garden Design Journal

Author / Compiler

Ruth Chivers

Ruth Chivers

Ruth Chivers gained a degree in Business Studies and then worked in higher educational administration and financial publishing. She developed a keen interest first in plants and gardening, then garden design, attending an evening class to improve her knowledge. She decided to make a career change, and in 1993 took a diploma course at the College of garden Design, then based at Pershore. Her interest in garden history was further developed through studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. Ruth has been a medal winner at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, and she has designed gardens of all sizes in the UK and the USA. She lived in northern California for six years, where she continued as a garden designer, writer and lecturer. She has been a Registered member of the Society of Garden Designers (MSGD) since 1998, and is also a certified Member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) in the USA. Ruth is also a member of the Garden Media Guild, and writes for consumer magazines. She is the author of the Gardening Which? Guide to Small Gardens and co-author or collaborator on other books such as Meadows by Design and 1001 Gardens You Must See Before You Die.

Liz Davies

Liz Davies

Liz Davies was born in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and grew up surrounded by beautiful hilly countryside, from which she developed a deep connection with the ‘space outside’, as well as a passion for plants and gardens. She first trained as an occupational therapist, and became interested in gardening as a therapy. In 1993 she retrained as a garden designer, completing the diploma course at the College of Garden Design, based at Pershore Horticultural College, Worcestershire. In 1999, she became a Full Member of the Society of Garden Designers (MSGD). She has consulted and designed many gardens for corporate, public and private clients, and her designs have appeared in The Book of Garden Plans and Garden Plans for Small Gardens, and her garden has featured in many magazines including Period Living and The English Garden. Liz has now retired from full-time garden design, and concentrates on developing her own garden, opening it to the public and teaching yoga in the garden during summer months.

Students at design colleges may buy the book at the discounted price of £21.00 direct from the Publisher plus postage & packing (£3.00 in UK; £7.00 in Continental Europe). 


Direct from the Publisher or RHS Wisley Bookshop; RIBA Bookshop, London; Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London; Gardners Books, Eastbourne (wholesaler).


Packard Publishing Ltd
14 Guilden Road
PO19 7LA

Tel & Fax +44 (0)1243 537977