Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
A properly maintained garden brings new joy in being outdoors, gives new life to your property, and removes the worry at not keeping on top of things.
Garden built and maintained by Landscaping Solutions
Finding a garden maintenance company to suit you, though, can create its own headache. Based in Surrey and South West London, we at Landscaping Solutions have come to understand what our clients value most. With this knowledge, we’ve put together a list of questions for you to ask garden services providers, so that you can more easily find the one that matches your needs.
How experienced are you?
The best garden maintenance, which lets you relax in the knowledge that every aspect of your outside space is being cared for, is not about “mowing and blowing” or just providing weeding services.
Too often home-owners find their shrubs trimmed into an amorphous blob, or an array of identical lollipops. Neat, but hardly allowing the personality of your garden to shine.
It’s an approach which often betrays a lack of experience. To bring out the best in a garden requires people who have built up a bank of knowledge and have plenty of experience at the sharp end of garden maintenance.
Extensive knowledge of perennials, shrubs, trees and annuals, an understanding of clever underplanting, layering and seasonal colour ensure that over the year your garden gains in character and interest, becoming the best fit for your lifestyle and how you want to enjoy it.
Garden built and maintained by Landscaping Solutions
Are you based locally?
This might seem an odd question to throw in, but the more engaged a company is in your locality and the longer they’ve been in operation, the more they’ve come to understand local conditions - what grows well in one area compared with another, how soil conditions vary, slight differences in weather patterns. Employ a company based at some distance from your location and it could make the wrong sort of difference to the success of your garden maintenance programme.
How can I trust that you’re as good as you say you are?
Some people can talk up a storm, but it helps to have proof.
Membership of a professional organisation is an indicator of a company with high standards. There are a number of organisations to look out for; the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) is one which only permits members who maintain necessary standards, carries out inspections, and demands members carry public liability insurance.
You can’t beat an actual example, though.
So, now is a good time to ask if your prospective garden services company can point you to any gardens locally that they look after.
Can you work the way I want you to?
This is an interesting one, and it’s worth thinking about what you want from a garden maintenance company before beginning your search. You are, after all, looking for a long-term relationship with someone who’s happy to work with you in the way that suits you.
This might mean that you just want to come home to an attractive garden in good condition where you can entertain and relax without ever having to think about details. You might have planting plans that you’d like to implement but can’t do yourself, or want to increase the wildlife-friendly elements of your garden. You might like to be fully involved, with regular updates on work being carried out, and regular discussions about the garden’s development and the particular plants we recommend incorporating and features you’d like added.
The response and degree of enthusiasm from a prospective company to an explanation of your preferred methods will help you gauge how suited it is to your way of life.
About Landscaping Solutions’ Garden Maintenance Service
Ben West established Landscaping Solutions in 2005, with sixteen years’ experience of landscaping and horticulture under his belt. With our staff of experienced landscapers, Landscaping Solutions contains a deep well of knowledge and skills which will breathe new life into your garden.
Garden built and maintained by Landscaping Solutions in Barnes, South West London
We are also full members of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and, in addition to our garden maintenance work, collaborate with leading garden designers to build award-winning garden designs.
Working with you
We’re happy to work in the way that suits you best, from having the most general instruction to keep the garden looking good (we’ll make sure we know exactly what this means to you first) through to having a regular meeting with you to discuss what you’d like done next.
We take enormous pleasure in working with garden owners to maintain their garden to the highest standard and, if desired, to help develop it. With extensive knowledge of perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees and annuals, we’ll plant and prune with an eye to the coming seasons as well making your garden look its best in the immediate present.
We can help you develop your garden over time with your children or grandchildren in mind, adding age-appropriate features as they grow, helping you to connect them to Nature.
Seasonal tasks are not restricted to plants and lawns, unless you want them to be. We will also carry out ongoing garden maintenance on hard landscaping, decking and fences, including repairs and painting.
We’re upfront about what we can’t do, so if you ever need a large tree cut down, for example, we’ll direct you to a qualified tree surgeon.
Working with Nature
With Nature much in the spotlight these days, and climate change, pesticides, diminishing insect populations and habitat destruction frequently in the news, it’s reassuring to know that small differences can make a difference. At Landscaping Solutions we have the knowledge to help you make your garden as Nature-Friendly as possible while suiting your lifestyle and garden layout.
Garden built and maintained by Landscaping Solutions
What Landscaping Solutions offers
What we offer is a custom garden maintenance service, tailored to your garden, your pocket and the way you want us to work. We seek to enjoy a good long-term relationship every bit as much as you want to find someone you’re happy with for a long time to come.
All we ask is that you have a garden with enough work to occupy at least one gardener for one full day. That could be a medium-sized but intensively planted garden with several features, or a large, simple spread with lots of ground to cover. We’re happy to come and advise.
Where to find us
Landscaping Solutions offers garden services in Surrey and South West London, particularly the TW, SW, GU and KT postcodes. Our radius includes Molesey, Esher, East Horsley, Cobham, Weybridge, Kingswood, Kingston and Richmond.
For more information and an informal chat about our garden maintenance service, contact Ben West on 0208 241 2402, or email email@example.com to ask us to give you a call.
“It definitely brings us closer. You see a different side of people.” This is Landscaping Solutions’ Operations Manager James Double’s verdict on our annual camping trips. Perhaps that’s not surprising when you find out what owner Ben West gets us doing.
Landscaping Solutions’ Ben, George, James, Frank, Jack, Tom and Hudson.
When our social events take place outside work, they usually involve something like golf, go-karting or football. “If I organise something,” says Ben, “we’ll end up doing activities that most of us haven’t done before - friction fire-lighting, bushcraft skills, swimming in rivers, hill-walking on Brecon Beacon.”
Ben’s been wild camping since he was ten, and the trips are now a feature of the firm. Contracts Manager Tom Underwood hadn’t ever camped when he joined the company just over seven years ago. “I wasn’t into it, but I really look forward to it now,” he says. “I’m already looking forward to the trip for this year.”
The trips certainly aren’t compulsory and we don’t have to venture far - a recent camp-out was in the Surrey Hills - but they do offer a chance for us to get to know each other better over a couple of days. “Most love it,” says Ben. “You don’t always get to mix with everybody in the firm, so you’re meeting other people you might have heard of and not worked with. It’s letting hair down in general.”
“It’s team building,” says Tom. “Two or three days in the wilderness with nothing but yourselves. It definitely contributes to well-being and happiness, and if you’re happy in work, then you do it better.”
A BALI award-winning garden, London, designed by Simon Thomas and built by Landscaping Solutions.
Teamwork is vital to a landscaping practice and is at the heart of Landscaping Solutions. It stands to reason that if three or four of us are working on a site for several weeks, the better we understand each other, the better we work together. “Teamwork is very important to the company. I’ve noticed that people coming from other firms say that they like the banter and the fun,” says Ben. “You’re spending most of your life doing this, so if it’s not fun, there’s not much point in having the job. The trips away help to create camaraderie, and it’s calming being out amongst the bird song and around the fire. As soon as you’ve got a fire going in the dusk, people talk about things that they rarely talk about otherwise.”
“We’re a close group,” says Tom. “I pass on what I’ve learned, and the guys teach me; I’m always ready to learn.”
And if you’re wondering how this plays into Landscaping Solutions’ work, then take a look at some of our BALI award-winning gardens.
Alongside teamwork goes the ethos of recognising the talent we’ve got. “The culture of Landscaping Solutions is to promote from within,” says Ben. “We take on young guys and the team supports them to give them the skills and take on responsibility. That’s the most successful way to get people into responsible roles,” he adds.
James joined around seven years ago, was promoted to foreman and now works alongside Ben in the office. Tom, who joined at around the same time, also became a foreman and is now Contracts Manager, overseeing all the teams, giving toolbox talks, ensuring everyone has the workwear, PPE and materials they need. For the guys who moved into the gaps left by their promotion, James and Tom are on hand to monitor and give support.
A BALI award winning garden, London, designed by Jilayne Rickards and built by Landscaping Solutions.
We think the results speak for themselves. The recent BALI awards gave us our 5th award over 7 years, two being Principal Award Winner. Of the latest winner in December 2018, designer Jilayne Rickards said, ““The finish was exquisite, because that’s how Landscaping Solutions work.”
So, when you commission Landscaping Solutions for your garden project, we’ll not just enjoy building it. You’ll also know you have a tight-knit team who will work together to give you the best result possible, maybe even a BALI award-winner.
For a discussion on how we can help with your next garden project, contact Ben on firstname.lastname@example.org or the number at the top of the page.
CDM - Construction Design Management - is something we’ve noticed makes a lot of garden designers nervous. Brought in in 2007 and revised in 2015, the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations demand that every project has suitably qualified and experienced duty holders in place, to shoulder the designated responsibilities and, in the case of designers, this consists of “identifying, eliminating or controlling foreseeable risks”.
A finished project for a garden near Richmond.
The regs also demand that designers prepare and provide relevant information to those who need it and liaise with the principal contractor “to help in the planning, management, monitoring and coordination of the construction phase”.
Put like that, it’s understandable that, as the regulations finally begin to filter into the landscaping industry, there are a few qualms. Funnily enough, it’s the domestic sector that’s feeling the burden most, rather than contractors working on the commercial side; when you’re working for the likes of Taylor Wimpey you’ll be a very big fish to be principal anything.
Working for home-owners is different. They, too, have their responsibilities, but aren’t expected to understand them. Former BALI chairman Richard Gardiner runs Nag Solutions, which helps landscape companies improve their compliance credentials, and sums up the situation this way. “The problems come in the domestic sector. There’s no pressure from the client, the home-owner, and you wouldn’t expect them to be up to speed. It’s more challenging than the commercial sector because most of the time the domestic contractor operates as principal contractor, and a lot of responsibility sits with the principal contractor. Contractors do tend to bury their heads a bit.”
Machinery should be placed in a safe position.
It’s the same with designers. “Again, they bury their heads,” he says. “The designer is the interface with the client. If they are aware of what they should be doing, then they should guide the client.”
At Landscaping Solutions, our heads are well and truly above ground. Some time ago, we took a good hard look at what is demanded and how far we fulfilled it, and we brought Richard in as the expert to check us over for any gaps in our approach. Consequently, we’ve embraced CDM with quite a bit of enthusiasm.
Why? Ben West, owner of Landscaping Solutions explains, “It’s going to increase professionalism and bring the landscaping industry in line with the rest of the construction industry, which is quite far ahead of us in this area. It’ll reduce accidents by making the consideration of risks and hazards part of the design process, so that, hopefully, they’re designed out of forthcoming schemes. And it’s going to make the finished garden a safer place for the homeowner and their visitors.”
A tidy site is a safer site.
What this means for you, as a designer, is that we know what’s needed and can help you with your responsibilities. “We recently did a job for a lady who wasn’t sure what CDM meant,” says Ben. “We provided her with documentation, the people she could speak to, links with various websites, and looked at her current documentation to see if it was rigorous enough.”
If you’re a home-owner reading this, then you can rest easy that we understand our duties and carry them out. It will also potentially reduce your costs by flagging up potentially massive additions to the bill brought about by, for example, the use of oversized, heavy paving that will need cutting on site in hard-to-access gardens where the only solution is to bring in a crane and then cut by hand.
When you’re not used to doing something, and there are plenty of other things taking up valuable time, then getting to grips with CDM is daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.
Landscapers should have all the appropriate work equipment and footwear for the job.
Paramount in CDM is the need to communicate. “Essentially, the designer should do a risk assessment for their design and talk to the contractor,” says Richard Gardiner. “The contractor might come up with a different way to solve a problem which is more satisfactory. All parties need to be in communication, putting the client, designer and contractor in tune with each other.”
If you’ve read our post on The Secret to a Bali Award-Winning Garden, then you’ll know that communication is one of our priorities. That project demanded hundreds of both emails and phone calls. If a problem occurs, we’ll let you know. If a schedule needs to be rejigged because of a delayed delivery, we’ll tell you. If we foresee a pitfall in the way things are scheduled, we’ll suggest a solution.
CDM doesn’t have to be feared. It’s raising standards across the industry and that has to be applauded. However, everyone can do with a bit of support, especially when something’s new and full of legal implications.
“CDM is a good thing,” says Ben. “With any of our projects, we’ll be happy to offer advice to designers who are a bit unsure, and it’s a chance for everyone in the industry - landscapers and designers - to show clients and designers that we take our responsibilities seriously and recognise our duty of care to fellow contractors and our clients.”
If you’d like to discuss how we can help with the CDM requirements of your next project, give us a ring on 0208 2412402 or email us at email@example.com
Richard Gardiner can be contacted at Nag Solutions.
It’s that time of year again, with the nights drawing in, December fast approaching and the anticipation mounting it can mean only one thing...no not Christmas, the BALI National Landscape Awards 2018.
Recognised throughout the industry as one of the biggest landscaping events of the year the 42nd BALI National Landscape Awards will pay tribute to BALI members who have demonstrated exceptionally high standards of professionalism and skill within the landscaping and design sector.
As BALI members and winners of this years Domestic Garden Construction Between £100k - £250k category the Landscaping Solutions team will of course be in attendance.
This will be our fifth BALI award to date and, as always, it stands as a great testament to the hard work, craftsmanship and enthusiasm of all our staff. Two of those five award have been of ‘Principal’ status which is awarded to the best garden in its respective category. We are hoping that this year will be three out of five. Fingers crossed.
Situated in the London Borough of Barnet our award winning garden was designed by Jilayne Rickards Garden Design. Jilayne’s commitment and attention to details is of the highest order and we look forward to bringing more of her contemporary garden designs to life in coming years.
As part of the initial brief for this particular design the client had requested a usable family space with a unifying architectural theme and colour scheme. In addition they wanted year round interest in the planting, to hear the sound of running water and to have interesting textures, shapes and heights be incorporated in to the planting.
Modern hard landscaping features, privacy screens, overhead patio shades, a built-in barbecue and fireplace and a bespoke water feature are just some of the many features we installed to meet the clients needs.
In the early stages of the design process the client had also expressed the importance of ensuring the finished garden had a ‘unique’ and personal feel, requesting personalised elements be included in the scheme.
With this in mind a number of bespoke Cor-Ten features were commissioned and installed through the rear garden. A bespoke mounting method had to be devised to allow for their installation.
From these bespoke installations, through to restricted site access and unfavourable ground conditions it is fair to say the project was not without its challenges. Luckily we don’t shy away from challenges at Landscaping Solutions and so with good communication, meticulous planning and hard work we were able to transform the garden in to a clean and clear functional space that satisfied all of the clients requirements.
With the hard work done, We are certainly looking forward to celebrating with fellow BALI members at the awards ceremony in December and as always, it is an honour to have our achievements recognised by the industry's number one trade association and our peers.
The competition in each category is fierce so we would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the other category winners on a job well done.