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We're nearing the end of a mammoth garden redesign, and I'm hoping someone can offer a bit of inspiration on how to finish off a few small details.

The garden is now split level - the top level is a flat lawn, the lower level (about 5feet below) is a sunken patio. The retaining wall between the two is block and render with a built in bench.

My dilemma is how to screen/fence/edge/ finish off the top of the wall in order to prevent my two small children hurling themselves off the massive drop down onto the patio!

I dont really want to have to put a full fence up as it will make the patio feel like a bit of a bunker. Ideas so far have been to nick a bit of the lawn to create a flower bed (could be about 2feet wide) but i have no idea what to plant that would provide enough of a deterrent/barrier whilst still letting light through. Other suggestion is to build a sort of 'window box' along the top of the wall, but again, what to plant it with?

Any ideas/suggestions would be gratefully received!


What about a low picket fence that would let light through? With some nice perennials planted either side, to stop it looking too bald.
Emma Crawforth

Hello Smithers,

I like your idea for the window box thing. It needs to be pretty high as if it's low you'll be adding an extra hazard to the garden! It will be a raised bed, so you can put whatever compost type you like into it. That gives you an opportunity to grow acid-loving plants even if the rest of your garden is alkaline and vice versa.

It looks as though that part of the garden is slightly shady, so I'm thinking some of the plants for shade in our feature will do well. Aquilegia, foxglove, bleeding heart and brunnera would be very pretty.

Good luck,

Emma team

I'm with sotongeoff on this, Smithers. You could even paint the trellis a nice duck-egg blue. Will they throw themselves off the parapet on the right?




Im with geoff too

b&q do  some lovely decking sunrise panels that are easy to fit and are not too expensive.

Thanks for the suggestions, some great ideas. Painted trellis might work, we already have a lot of painted wood benches and an arbour in the garden (although after the time it took me to paint the b***** thing i did swear i would never paint trellis again...!)

The drop on the right is flanked by a big wide flower bed so they cant fall off that without some serious effort. 

Thanks for the planting suggestions Emma, that spot is actually pretty sunny though. I think we'll definitely be going with a bed, have moved a few potted plants out there tonight to get an idea and it softens the top quite nicely. Not sure what will be best to go with though - need something that will still have shape and structure through the winter, it's the main view frm most rooms in the house.

Hi as you have a fair bit of hard surfaces how about "step over apple trees".  Alan Titchmarsh whilst doing his stint at Gardensworld was a keen fan, so cant be bad ! The trees are great lookers when in blossom, produce lovely edible apples and are quite prickly to deter even the most determined toddler without causing injury.  If this is not your thing how about two or three beautiful clementis they grow really well side ways gently supported by a very small ( about 10 inchs) trellis.  You can have an early spring, mid summer and late summer display which will thicken up over time.    Good luck in your choices.


Moonlit Hare

Wow thats fantastic... I know when my brothers and I where small we'd have been trying to ride our bikes off there (ramp or no ramp) we might even have stretched to playing parachutes! I see your dilema

 Trellis is a good idea or if you're feeling a bit lazy maybe some bamboo / bamboo screens, you culd always grow some climbers up it, scratchy roses might keep the little angles off?

Good luck, let us know what you did when you're finished!

i have a similar problem, though my patio is where your lawn is and vice versa, with the addition of a nice hazardous pond! My boys are now 3 and 4, but its been this way since before I had them. I've used stone troughs full of houseleeks to create the window-box effect - they're heavy enough to stop a tricycle! I've also planted a border along the edge of the grass to create a visual barrier, just to remind them where the edge is even more. You have to be careful not to just create a nice climbing opportunity - that just means they've that bit farther to fall. I'd probably to the window box thing in your situation and create lavendar hedges in them. You'd still have some structure in the winter then, nobody's gonna put their eye out on it and it'd smell lush as you go by. Just make sure they're heavy. I've had success alternating two types that flower at slightly different times, such as 'hidcote' and 'munstead' to prolong the flowering season.


Hi all

Just thought I would post an update showing what we did with our 'child-death-fall' dilemma after all the great advice last year!

We went for making a narrow flower bed stolen from the top lawn, and planted with lots of spiky stuff to deter rampaging toddlers. I'm happy to report that, as yet, no-one has hurled themselves over the edge, and that is despite having a garden party last weekend with about twenty under 4's running around!

Thanks to all who replied!



That looks awesome - nice work!



I remember your query - thanks for showing us what you've done - looks great and good to hear you and your family are having fun in your garden 

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