Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping Solutions.
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.
What’s the secret to a successful build when the landscaping involved clearly offers challenges?
Flexibility and communication.
Without these, a garden build becomes confused, mistakes are made and jobs have to be redone.
With them, you can win a prestigious BALI award.
Client, Quentin Zentner with the BALI award at the ceremony earlier this month.
We won’t pretend that our award-winning garden in Barnet, North London, was easy. From planning to completion has taken over four years, as work was postponed more than once to allow for the client’s family circumstances. On top of this, a major refurbishment of the house overlapped with the garden build, which meant that we were sharing the site—and the storage space in front of the house—with builders working on the interior. Work schedules needed rejigging to allow for the late arrival of the gas supply to the barbecue. And, as you can imagine over a lengthy build, the client honed their requirements further, resulting in the installation of a Rensen canopy which needed an electrical run laid down and a relocation of pleached trees that had already been planted.
The lower part of the garden offers different areas for seating.
Designer Jilayne Rickards had her work cut out from the beginning, with a triangular-shaped back garden that tapered from 7 metres width at the back of the house to 4.5 metres at the bottom. “The garden isn’t big, and the clients wanted several areas—different “rooms” with entertaining spaces,” she explains. “They’re very much party people. They had teenage daughters at the time, and they like to have family around and dance.”
Lighting is an important element in this party-orientated garden. “I wanted to make it intimate,” says Jilayne, “with the water feature, screens and sculpture lit and making a focal point of trees and main features.”
This awkward-shaped plot also offered a 2-metre drop from front to back, restricted access the width of a wheelbarrow, and heavy clay which, as winter progressed, became totally waterlogged. “You couldn’t move,” says Jilayne, “for getting that great big lump of clay around your foot that weighs a ton.” This meant, not just waiting out the worst and shifting schedules as we worked around the weather and soil conditions, but an enormous amount of soil amelioration in the form of bucket-on-shoulder shifting of horticultural grit and manure for border preparation.
Our BALI award-winning garden, designed by Jilayne Rickards, with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants supplied by Europlants.
In circumstances like these, you have to be flexible, ready to reconsider your options, and understand exactly what jobs can be shifted around each other and which can’t. You also have to communicate with all parties involved, every day if necessary. This job clocked up hundreds of emails and hundreds of phone calls, keeping the right people informed, checking up on details, pinning down timings.
Sharing a small site with other contractors who are working to their own agenda is often one of the challenges of high-end builds, as refurbishments indoor and out tend to take place at the same time. Our team on site was headed by James. “He’s one of the best foremen I’ve ever worked with,” says Jilayne. “The contractor was doing the lighting with the client in charge, so we didn’t always know what was happening, and the contractor didn’t turn up or finish when they said they would.
“It was quite troublesome,” she adds, with a degree of understatement. “James, the foreman was just phenomenal—one of the best foremen I’ve ever worked with. He offered lots of solutions along the way and didn’t lose his cool.”
The front garden, designed to make the most of sunlit grasses supplied by Knoll Gardens.
The results speak for themselves.
Out front, the clients wanted a pretty, welcoming garden with grasses lit by sunlight and space for cars. The sunny, dry gravel garden includes a dry-stone wall using quartzite paddlestones and Irish barley quartz gravel supplied by CED. There’s also a Sureset resin-bound drive which wasn’t on our schedule but which we slipped into our schedule to install after another contractor let them down.
The front and back garden are very different spaces, so Jilayne made the connection between the two with materials and design details. The client was keen to use Cor-Ten steel and include Arabic patterns. In the back garden Jilayne combined the two with laser-cut screens.
Cor-Ten steel, stipulated by the client, makes a statement front and back.
As these were a bespoke design, there was no tried and tested way of mounting them, so we devised bespoke fixings, minimising the chance of corrosion from contact with the soil by constructing a stand that was then fixed to a feature and bolted into concrete. Cor-Ten steel continued into the front garden in the lighting posts, while the Arabic pattern was repeated in the steel drain cover—a detail which particularly delighted the client.
Trendy Black Porcelain paving, sawn sandstone coping and resin-bound gravel create a perfect finish with the bespoke gully cover.
Trendy Black Porcelain from London Stone was used as paving throughout, linking front and back, and we created a modern, minimalist wall cladding with the same material for the built-in seats around the Fire Magic gas barbecue, complementing the choice of granite for the worktop and bespoke water feature.
The side passage maintains continuity between front and back gardens with the use of steel, Trendy Black Porcelain paving and gravel leading into the rear space.
The awkward shape of the plot was disguised with a diagonal design, creating two areas below the patio, with intimate seating between panels, allowing party guests to enjoy a quiet chat, and ending on a lawned area, completely hidden from neighbours, ideal for deckchairs on a Sunday morning, reading the papers.
The finish is always important, but it can make a particular impact where materials are repeated to create cohesion. A jarring defect in one area will then cast a shadow over all the work in that material.
The Cor-Ten steel screens and sculpture are highlighted at night.
“The finish was exquisite, because that’s how Landscaping Solutions work,” said Jilayne. “I went round looking and I wanted to find something, but I couldn’t fault anything. Everything was finished perfectly.”
We’ve loved working with Jilayne so we’re delighted that she feels the same about us. While the project proved a long, arduous journey with plenty of challenges along the way, its BALI award proves all the hard work worthwhile and shows what can be done when everyone on a project is fully engaged, communicating and aiming at the same result.
Some of the Landscaping Solutions team who worked on the project: (from left) Ben West (at back) Jack Comer, Chris Makepeace, Sam Gilbert, Tom Underwood, Morris Manole.
“I’d work with Ben again in a heartbeat,” says Jilayne. “It’s just great working with people who have such high standards.”
If you’d like to discuss a garden design project and what we at Landscaping Solutions can do for you, please give us a ring on 0208 2412402 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditionally, most people see gardening as dominated by the older generation. The digital age however, has seen a new younger generation of gardeners emerge. These gardeners are learning from an entirely untraditional source; the internet and social media.
Social media and the internet are key players when it comes to kick starting trends, with sites like Instagram, Pintrest, Twitter and YouTube offering us inspiration at our finger tips. As a result, a huge network of young horticulturists are using these social media platforms to share the latest gardening tips and tricks or simply to find inspiration.
According to a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, 89 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds said they had either a garden or an allotment and grew their own plants and vegetables.
Growing your own food and watching what you eat is a popular trend at the moment, most notably amongst young professionals. Organic food is on the rise and people are more aware than ever that growing your own fruit and vegetables can dramatically reduce our food’s carbon footprint.
In short, attitudes are changing rapidly with many under 35’s now heavily engaged in a range of gardening activities. The last few years have also seen a sharp increase in the number of 16 to 18 year olds wanting to enroll on horticultural courses at college.
The stereotype that gardening can only be enjoyed by the older generation is quickly disappearing and one such person helping to dispel that stereotype is 19 year old YouTuber Huw Richards.
Huw’s YouTube channel HuwsNursery currently has over 20 million views with upwards of 80 thousand subscribers, making it the most successful gardening vlog in the UK.
As a result of his YouTube successes Huw has also appeared on numerous TV gardening programmes and secured a number of sponsorship deals with prominent landscape and gardening related companies.
Another young British YouTuber, 22 year old Jack Shilley features similar content on his Youtube channel. One of his most successful videos entitled “planting raspberries in containers” has racked up more than 95,000 views.
When you look at statistics like this it’s clear the younger generation are getting into gardening in a big way and thankfully there are a growing number of initiatives designed to encourage and nurture this surge of interest.
BALI are a prime example of this, their hugely successful GoLandscape initiative (of which Landscaping Solutions company director Ben West is an ambassador) aims to bring more young people in to the landscaping industry by promoting and developing real life careers.
In addition The Royal Horticultural Society also run several groups and award schemes all aimed at the younger generation.
Increasingly a number of schools and colleges across the UK are also creating gardening spaces and clubs within their grounds, in an effort to embrace the enthusiasm of this new generation of gardeners.
We’ve covered a number of environmental issues on the Landscaping Solutions blog over recent months. As a subject matter close to our hearts we try to offer practical support wherever possible.
For instance, we have been corporate sponsors of the Surrey Wildlife Trust for several years now and have just renewed our support for 2018.
Formed in 1959 the trust manages 82 sites in total, covering almost 8000ha. They are the only organisation in Surrey that cares for all forms of wildlife and they are doing some incredible work.
On a daily basis the trust works closely with schools, communities and volunteers across Surrey, informing and involving people actively in nature. Over 15,000 children and young people now benefit annually from a wide variety of outdoor learning courses and activities thanks to the work Surrey Wildlife Trust carries out.
Surrey is host to some wonderful habitats and the Wildlife Trusts works closely with partners and landowners to advise on land management for conservation, with particular emphasis on woodland, wetlands and heathland. In addition, the trust also regularly runs campaigns in an effort to save precious habitats and vulnerable species.
Unfortunately in the current political climate of government cuts and lack of funding, many of the habitats and species in question are coming under constant pressure from a variety of threats.
This lack of funding can make the difference between a species thriving or becoming locally extinct (one recent example would be the Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly which is now extinct in Surrey due to woods becoming overgrown) and for that reason it is more crucial then ever that we support these bodies in the work they do.
Landscaping Solutions company director Ben West has been a member of the Wildlife Trusts since he was a young boy. Initially a member of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Ben quickly became a member of the Surrey Wildlife Trust when he moved to the area around 15 years ago.
“Through the years I started to develop a growing awareness of the threats to our native wildlife and landscapes through habitat destruction, pollution and poor land management. I understood the crucial part the wildlife trusts play and started to volunteer with them and other bodies to help manage their reserves”.
A great deal of the work carried out by the Wildlife Trusts and trusts like them is volunteer led and it’s this ongoing support that allows them to continue their vital work.
Along with the Wildlife Trusts Landscaping Solutions also support the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Wessex Chalk Streams and Rivers Trust, Bumblebee Conservation and the Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.
Whether its corporate sponsorship, personal membership or looking after the wildlife on your patch, by supporting conservation bodies, together we can make a difference!
Further information regarding the Surrey Wildlife Trust and their work can be found at surreywildlifetrust.org