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Corten Steel in Garden Design

Corten steel is a modern material often used by garden designers and landscape architects to make garden planters, retaining walls and other structures. Here are some inspirational uses of corten steel from recent show gardens as well as our professional garden designer community.

The Daily Telegraph Garden by Andy Sturgeon - Best in Show 2010

The Daily Telegraph Garden by Andy Sturgeon - Best in Show 2010

Inspired by travel, this contemporary gravel garden brings together flavours of the Southern Cape, the maquis shrubland of the Mediterranean, the chaparral of California and Mexico and the matorral of central Chile. Corten steel screens slice through the design, fusing architectural and sculptural qualities to define spaces and control views within the garden. Read the full article and see the full plant list here.

View all of the articles on Shoot including corten steel.

Suffolk garden

Janey Auchincloss garden design using corten steel

By garden designer Janey Auchincloss of Janey Auchincloss Designs and photo by Paul Dixon.This contemporary garden is designed on a grid taken from the glazing of the new extension to the Edwardian cottage. The Corten steel tank contains still, dyed black water which perfectly reflects the Exotic jungle-like planting. A garden for experimenting and having fun with plants too! 

Plants used in this garden:

Dicksonia antarctica
Pittosporum tobira 'Nanum'
Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum'
Geum 'Prinses Juliana'
Carex testacea
Eriobotrya japonica
Watsonia pillansii
Euphorbia stygiana
Salvia 'Amistad'
Canna 'Tropicanna Black'
Tithonia rotundifolia 'Torch'
Acaena microphylla 'Kupferteppich'
Actaea 'Chocoholic'

Long garden - Wivenhoe, Essex

Long garden - Wivenhoe, Essex by Karen Chamberlain Garden Design

By Karen Chamberlain Garden Design. 

A small breakfast terrace partially wrapped by a bespoke corten steel herb planter is the perfect place to begin the day. This garden was also awarded 'Silver' at the 2019 APL National Awards for a build project value between £35-£60K.  Karen recommended the contractors who achieved the award and worked closely with them and various specialists who fabricated and installed the corten planters and the bespoke water feature.  

"Corten is not suitable for every project but for this design it was the perfect material for its appearance, strength, no-maintenance, longevity, slim profile and affordability. The other landscaping materials and the planting where selected to complement its beautiful warm rusted tones."

Plants in this garden include:

Thymus vulgaris
Thymus 'Golden King'
Salvia rosmarinus
Geum 'Mai Tai'

West facing, old suburban garden on a steep slope, Oxshott

Sloping garden, Oxshot   By Bright Green Garden garden design. Corten steel is used to create levels within the lawn.

By Bright Green Garden garden design. Corten steel is used to create levels within the lawn. A beautiful space was created by turning the 'hill' into a gently sloping feature. Every detail was considered, blending traditional with contemporary, to make the transition from the house effortless. The sloping steps in the lawn were created with Corten steel panels to absorb the steep incline. 

Colourful planting provides all year interest. The garden was refurbished with shrubs and trees where possible, reused perennials and planted over 600 new plants. 

Plants on frames:

Trachelospermum jasminoides
Elaeagnus x ebbingei
Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'
Griselinia littoralis

 

Key plants in wall border:

Verbena bonariensis
Stipa tenuissima
Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'
Helictotrichon sempervirens

 

South west facing, back garden refurb, Teddington

Back garden Teddington   By Bright Green Garden garden design. Corten steel as it develops over time.

By Bright Green Garden garden design. Corten steel as it develops over time.

There was a dark, dead space at the back of a lawned garden with a tiny patio made of leftover slabs. The area was remodelled adding to the limestone, edged it with setts to make a proper patio space. Dramatic Corten steel panels were installed as a foil for the planting. The corten was brought in as new steel and to watch the beautiful rusting process over the next few months. 

San Francisco garden

San fran corten

By Jessica Forys owner and principal designer of NurtureScapes, San Francisco USA. "When designing gardens, I love to mix different materials to bring out the best in each element and entertain the eye. In this garden, I mixed IPE wood, concrete walls (in a dark grey tint), Corten (weathering) Steel, moss rock  boulders, river pebbles & stone pavers to create a palette of materials that play with one another. I used the Corten as a  retaining wall and a backdrop for plants in hues of lime green, fuschia and deep magenta.  

The panels were custom made by a local steel manufacturer and bolted together on site.  I also used it in this garden for a fire place. Corten steel is a versatile material as it is strong, but thin, and over time it tells a story as it changes in color and becomes more organic looking."

Plants used in this California garden:

Elegia tectorum
Aeonium 'Zwartkop'
Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
Acer circinatum
Senecio serpens
Heuchera (any variety)
Ribes sanguineum
Grevillea 'Long John'
Prunus armeniaca

Adelaide, Australia - newly planted garden path

Australia - corten

By Nick and Cathy Apps of Catnik Design Studio. A newly planted perennial garden with beautiful drifts of colour, texture and plants to bring bees and butterflies to the garden. Corten Steel garden edging was curved on site to create a path of crushed limestone leading you to the front door.

Plants in this Australian garden:

Ballota pseudodictamnus
Stachys byzantina 'Big Ears'
Echinacea purpurea
Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
Achillea millefolium 'Cerise Queen'
Salvia farinacea 'Victoria'
Rosa 'Graham Thomas'
Rosa 'Heritage'
Cydonia oblonga
Nepeta racemosa 'Walker's Low'
Lychnis alpina
Cotinus 'Grace'
Geranium 'Rozanne'
Echinops ritro 'Veitch's Blue'
Geranium phaeum 'Album'
Hylotelephium telephium (Atropurpureum Group) 'Karfunkelstein'
Festuca glauca
Oenothera speciosa 'Twilight'
Hylotelephium telephium 'Autumn Joy'
Teucrium fruticans
Tulbaghia violacea 'Silver Lace'
Rosa 'Meiviolin'
Helleborus 'Pink Beauty'
Aquilegia vulgaris
Trachelospermum jasminoides
Elaeagnus x ebbingei
Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'
Griselinia littoralis