THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.

GARDENING: AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE MODERN WORLD

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A number of recent studies conducted by researchers and health practitioners have concluded that daily contact with nature has a positive and long lasting affect on our mood. The simple act of gardening itself provides substantial human health benefits and not just for your physical health but your mental health too. In short, gardening is good for you.

Studies carried out across the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East all looked at the effects of daily contact with nature and its long lasting benefits on our health.

The research showed a wide range of positive health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and weight loss.

Many of us live in a society full of daily stresses. Difficult commutes, long working hours, daily obligations and workplace pressures all form part of our daily routines. Add to this high-fat diets, environmental pollutants and increased levels of social and psychological stress and it quickly becomes easy to lose touch with nature altogether.

As a result, conditions such as heart disease, depression, diabetes, and obesity have become a major public health issue. It is estimated that worldwide, approximately 415 million people currently suffer from diabetes and somewhere in the region of 350 million people suffer from some form of depression. Sadly this trend shows no sign of slowing.

As part of the various studies, a number of volunteers who had been diagnosed with depression, persistent low mood, or bipolar disorder were asked to spend six hours a week planting. After three months, over half of the volunteers had experienced a measurable improvement in their symptoms of depression with others showing lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

As the research has shown reversing the adverse effects of losing touch with nature is possible. The sensory experience of gardening offers the opportunity to quickly and easily reconnect with nature. First and foremost gardening gets you outdoors, while simple tasks like digging, planting and weeding offer excellent forms of low-impact exercise. The plants themselves improve your local environment, trapping toxins and filtering harmful pollutants, in turn improving not just your health and wellbeing but those around you too.

The beauty of it is you don't need a big garden to start reaping the benefits either. A small garden or courtyard is more than sufficient and even something as simple as gardening containers is a great way to start out. With the right approach even the simplest gardening experience can help make a difference.

As subject matter close to our hearts, we’ve covered a number of environmental issues over the past months. If you have found this article interesting you may also enjoy some of our previous articles - Battling Urban Air Pollution: The Humble Hedge, Pocket Parks and Bees In Crisis.

​DOES A GARDEN ADD TO THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME?

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As you would expect, the majority of people go to great lengths when sprucing up their homes in the hope of making a sale. In the past gardens would foolishly be overlooked in this process, their potential undervalued by homeowners and prospective buyers alike.

But times have changed. Almost 40% of Brits now spend more time in their gardens compared to five years ago.

Over the years homeowners have begun to take more and more pride in the layout and landscaping of their gardens, with buyers also following suit, putting the same emphasis on the garden as they do other rooms when viewing a property. The garden is becoming an integral consideration in the house buying process.

A huge part of selling a house is standing out from the crowd. Large or small, the condition and appearance of a property’s garden is going to play a part in successfully achieving that.

First impressions count and in many cases the garden is the first thing a person sees when arriving at your property. A badly maintained garden could be enough to put off a potential buyer before they even set foot inside.

Research recently conducted by property buying website “Sell House Fast” surveyed estate agents, garden designers, landscape gardeners, property professionals and consultants. The results found that a well-maintained garden can add up to 20% to the value of your property. Based on the current UK average for property prices that’s £60,000, and up to £90,000 for properties in London.

We’re not necessarily talking about acres of land either. The majority of the estate agents surveyed agreed that even a small garden or courtyard, if well crafted, would certainly be worth more than a similar property on the same street where nothing had been done.

In a separate survey conducted by estate agent Foxtons it was also found that 72% of their clients said they would pay more for a home with a garden.

What is certain from all this is that a well-maintained outdoor space is more in demand then ever before and if you are thinking of selling up in the near future, your garden could easily be the deal breaker.

If you have found this article interesting you may also enjoy one of our previous articles; The Importance Of Good Garden Design And Landscaping.

CROWDFUNDING SUCCESS FOR CAMDEN HIGH LINE

Landscaping Solutions - Camden High Line - Crowdfunding Success

Back in June of this year we did a piece on the Landscaping Solutions blog covering the Camden High Line, an ambitious project providing London with its own answer to New York City’s famous ‘High Line’.

The project aims to transform an old section of raised railway track in North London into an elevated public garden and commuting route.

Proposed by local business development agency Camden Town Unlimited, the belief is that the completed project will positively impact the local residents and surrounding neighbourhoods and serve as a shining example of how existing urban infrastructure can be repurposed and reimagined to do more.

With plans and conceptual art in place, Camden Town Unlimited set about launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for taking the project through to the next stage. This includes site appraisals and surveys to establish the condition of the existing infrastructure as well as setting out the resources required to transform the disused railway.

Organisers initially set out to raise £37,000 for the proposed work but within a month of launching the campaign it had raised a staggering £62,000, over one and a half times their original goal.

This was undoubtably due in part to the overwhelming support the project received from the outset with over 300 local residents, community groups and businesses donating to the campaign, as well as Camden Market and the Mayor of London himself, Sadiq Khan.

When asked about the plans Mr Khan said: “This innovative project has the potential to become a real asset for Camden and is a great example of a community taking an idea and garnering support in order to make it a reality. I look forward to seeing it develop”.

Camden Town Unlimited are said to be thrilled with the results of the crowdfunding campaign as well as the support of the local community, businesses and the London mayor.

Whilst there is still a long way to go it is a very significant step towards construction and realising Camden Town Unlimited’s vision of a vibrant public green space and commuting route.

Refreshingly there have been a number of projects of this nature launched over recent months and as council budgets are stripped back across the UK, more and more communities are turning to crowdfunding as a means of getting community projects off the ground.

So many of these structures and spaces would no doubt have remained unloved and wasted for years to come were it not for these types of projects. Repurposing derelict or neglected spaces such as the Camden High Line re-energises the urban landscape, benefiting neighbourhoods as a whole and bringing communities together.

For further information regarding the Camden High Line or to support the project through its crowdfunding page click here.

If you would like to read our original blog article covering the launch of the Camden High Line crowdfunding campaign click here: From New York To London - The Camden High Line.

THE BUZZ SURROUNDING BEES

The Scottish government has launched a new “pollinator strategy” in an attempt to halt the rapid decline of pollinating insects such as honey bees, bumble bees and butterflies.

When compared to previous figures, the evidence suggests that the health and abundance of bees and other pollinators throughout the UK is dwindling at an alarming rate.

Since the 1980’s the number of pollinating insects in Scotland alone is estimated to have declined by a staggering 51%.

By setting out an ambitious 10-year plan the new pollinator strategy aims to make Scotland a more pollinator friendly place.

As part of the strategy homeowners and commercial landscape gardeners are being urged to plant pollinator-friendly plants in their gardens. Owners of flats and offices are also being encouraged to create rooftop, balcony and window-ledge gardens, with the specific aim of boosting flower-rich habitats by making better use of our urban infrastructure. In addition the strategy also proposes the development of bee and butterfly-friendly pest control as well as new research into the impact of climate change on pollinators.

It’s no secret bees are facing tough times and its a subject matter not without it’s fair share of media attention. Back in October last year we did a piece on the Landscaping Solutions blog covering their plight (Bees In Crisis) and there has also been plenty of publicity urging gardeners to grow flowers that attract bees and butterflies to their gardens.

Though undoubtedly this is all a step in the right direction, successfully reversing the decline is going to be no easy task. Planting a lot more flowers is not necessarily going to solve the problem as there is no clear cut answer as to why pollinating insects are under such threat.

Circumstances affecting the honeybee are different to those affecting bumblebees. Some species of bumblebee are actually doing well and have increased their distribution across the UK. These are mainly species that are able to collect nectar and pollen from a wide range of plants, including garden flowers.

Other species on the other hand are more selective in their flower-visiting routines and with the gradual loss of their natural habitats have shown a marked decline in population. Over the last 30 years 3 different species of bees have become extinct due to these circumstances, with many more dangerously close to extinction.

A recent study at the University of Sussex found that the majority of garden flowers advertised as bee-friendly are relatively useless when it comes to attracting pollinators. In fact the most effective insect-friendly plants are not the ones being recommended by garden centres.

Thankfully the Royal Horticultural Society currently features a comprehensive list on their website of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ plants which can be viewed here.

As mentioned, pesticides, pollution and climate change also play their part in the decline of pollinators. If we are to safeguard our environment and eventually help to turn the tide on the decline of these vital insects, the key to the success of strategies such as this will lie in the further research and a clearer understanding of our countries delicate ecosystems.

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