THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


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

SUSTAINABLE GARDEN DESIGN - THE FUTURE OF LANDSCAPING

Ben West, Landscaping Solutions

Ben West, Landscaping Solutions.

Garden designers and landscapers are in a unique position. We not only build gardens but bring an enormous pool of knowledge that influences the materials used, the plants chosen…and the wildlife that will visit them.

We’ll all take our own lessons from these lockdown weeks, but one of the precious things that they’ve given, rather than taken away from us, is time to think, to reassess and to create intent.

One of the most prevalent shared experiences of these weeks seems to be a greater appreciation of Nature, of its therapeutic value and how much we miss it when we cannot access it. Birdsong has become more noticeable, the air clearer. Butterflies seem more plentiful in the gorgeous weather.

Here in South West London, I’d venture that the leaves look a brighter green because of the lack of pollution.

Last year, the summit meeting at Futurescape concentrated on how the landscape industry might address climate change and I was on the podium as part of the discussion panel. When I looked around the meeting room, I saw impassioned and informed individuals seeking unity on the subject and itching for more progress within the industry.

It’s a matter that has been close to my heart for a long time. At Landscaping Solutions we began to increase the sustainability of the business some time ago. Seemingly small actions mount up to a much larger overall impact. But we believe there needs to be a more unified approach across the landscaping world.

Sustainability begins at ground level, before a spade is lifted. Putting it at the very beginning of a garden design project opens the opportunity for dialogue-rather than deciding on a material and us looking for a way to increase its sustainability through the supply chain or installation methods, it offers the chance to discuss materials and methods that the home-owner might not know to specify but which fulfil the brief.

Regenerative designs-those which add to the environment, rather than take away-are far more realistic, achievable and cost-effective for the average garden-owner than the slightly sterile designs that are so often to the fore in show gardens and which have such influence. We hope that trend-setters in the landscaping industry will push hard to move away from the unsustainable schemes that have been in vogue for so long.

This is an exciting time, full of hope. The Futurescape event made clear the hunger that members of the industry have for a different approach. There are designers around the country who put deep thought into how to make projects more sustainable, whether finding required stone onsite, using suppliers who propagate plants using peat-free compost, getting rid of waste products on Freecycle instead of sending them to the tip. There are many small steps that incrementally make a big difference, especially across an entire industry.

Here at Landscaping Solutions, we’re in the process of adding to our sustainability measures. Already, in sharing our knowledge of how to make gardens more attractive to wildlife, even with very small, easy-to-manage additions, we encourage garden-owners to widen the possibilities and create habitat that will sustain insect-life and the birds that feed on them.

For the future, we are looking to integrate an ecological assessment for each design and build. We’re examining ways to make the business zero-carbon or, at least, carbon neutral. We’re looking into the opportunities afforded by permaculture design. Can we create a suppliers’ carbon register, letting us align ourselves with suppliers with a good environmental approach? The possibilities are much wider than might immediately appear and many more ideas are under consideration.

What this means to home-owners is that they will know that their garden is not only contributing to the well-being of wildlife, giving their outdoor space an additional element to enjoy, but has made the least impact possible during its creation. It doesn’t have to mean a high-maintenance garden: minimising the necessity for power-driven maintenance tools is also a factor in the sustainable garden design.

For garden designers interested in working this way, Landscaping Solutions offers a sympathetic, enthusiastic partnership: solving problems, sharing knowledge, co-operating on plants and materials in a shared ethos, with no loss of quality or attention to detail in the build itself.

These lockdown weeks have given much food for thought to everyone, about our own lives, our working practices, the importance of personal contact, community and friends. In the context of gardens, they’ve shown us just how much we need a natural environment to recharge our batteries, to enjoy better health, to find serenity.

Now is the time to plan to act on this understanding. At Landscaping Solutions, we build award-winning gardens. We also want to build a better environment for us and our children.

We look forward to the exciting opportunities afforded by working with like-minded designers and suppliers. If you’d like to discuss the opportunities for your garden design, contact us at Landscaping Solutions now.

A FRACKING DISASTER

Fracking Little Plumpton Lancashire

If you are a regular reader of the Landscaping Solutions Blog you may remember back in January of last year we did an article covering the preposterous plans to commence fracking in Sherwood Forests.

One of the world's largest chemical companies Ineos, were leading the charge at the time and had gone as far as to obtain all the relevant licences to begin searching for shale gas beneath the ancient woodland.

Fortunately, after a great deal of protesting and negative media attention these plans were subsequently dropped.

Sadly there’s no time to breath a sigh of relief just yet. With Ineos busy eyeing up their next target. Companies like Cuadrilla Resources are already busy at work.

Following years of protests, demonstrations and debate Cuadrilla Resources have sadly begun fracking for shale gas at their site in Little Plumpton, Lancashire on the 15 October.

This marks the first time fracking has been carried out in the UK since the process was linked to earthquakes, caused by Cuadrilla Resources, back in 2011.

It comes as no surprise then when you hear the news that the Little Plumpton site is already in trouble. At the time of writing this article the site had triggered 37 earthquakes in only three weeks.

Worryingly, two of those earthquakes were powerful enough to breach regulatory limits and be categorised as "red" events by the Oil and Gas Authority monitoring system, meaning work had to stop completely for a minimum of 18 hours. On a third occasion an earthquake came so close to a “red” event that Cuadrilla Resources themselves voluntarily ceased operations.

Some organisations are concerned that these repeated breaches of regulatory limits already suggest Cuadrilla are in way over their heads. Yet shockingly, only last week the chief executive of Cuadrilla urged the government to relax the shale gas exploration limits currently imposed on fracking. The energy minister, Claire Perry, thankfully rejected such requests.

The reality though is that the Government shouldn’t be giving projects like this the go ahead in the first place. We should be shifting away from fossil fuels, not looking at ways to make it easier for companies like Cuadrilla Resources and Ineos to dig up more.

Fracking is by no means a long term solution and at best can only serve to extend the supplies of current fuels for a limited time. In fact, it’s sustainability has already been called in to question by countless studies with the most recent study concluding that fracking is one of the least sustainable methods of producing energy.

Renewable energy solutions are truly the only way forward, offering a long term solution, to the long term problem of maintaining energy supplies but also reducing carbon emissions.

However, until the Government is prepared to listen to the environmental scientists and the growing concerns of the public, councillors and MPs, Theresa May’s recent promise of a healthier environment for the next generation, is unlikely to be one she can keep.

RISE OF THE ECO GARDENER

Eco Gardener

An unfortunate side affect of living a modern lifestyle is losing touch with nature. As we further develop our towns and cities, slowly swallowing up fields, parks and woodland the gradual loss of our natural surroundings is becoming ever more apparent.

Thankfully, as a nation we are becoming more environmentally aware everyday and attitudes are beginning to shift. As the effects of climate change begin to touch our everyday lives, there has been a rise of eco-conscious gardeners wanting to get back to nature and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

With this change in attitudes, people are developing a greater awareness of the environment as well as becoming more considerate of garden wildlife. Recent figures released by Wyevale Garden Centres showed that 67% of people surveyed considered themselves to be eco-conscious when it came to their approach to gardening. City dwellers in particular are setting a good example when it comes to cutting back on waste and encouraging wildlife.

The same survey also revealed that more than three quarters of gardeners try to avoid using chemicals in their gardens, with 46% opting for organic fertilisers as an alternative.

The negative impact our current food system has on the environment is also becoming clear to the eco-conscious gardeners of today. For this reason, growing your own food and in particular, watching what you eat, is becoming increasingly important to many.

People want to know where their food is grown and are aware that by adopting an organic approach to growing they can dramatically reduce their food’s carbon footprint.

As a result, the grow your own movement has been gaining traction and has quickly become a key focus for the eco-conscious gardener. In fact, a recent report from The Soil Association revealed the UK organic market alone is now worth £2.2 billion.

For those starting out in eco-gardening, knowing were to start can sometimes be a daunting prospect. The trick is to start small with something simple; using recycled pots, encouraging birds and wildlife in to your garden or installing a water-butt can quickly set you on the path to becoming an eco-gardener.

If growing your own food tickles your fancy then starting with items that are relatively easy to grow is also a good way of beginning your eco-gardening journey. A perfect starting point for example would be growing tomatoes. Tomatoes require minimal effort but can still yield satisfying and tasty results.

While all this may seem like relatively small steps at first, if all of us began thinking about changes we could make in our own gardens and implementing those changes we could make a difference. Not only to our own surroundings but to the environment too.

GARDENING: AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE MODERN WORLD

gardening-an-antidote

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.

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