Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at Landscaping 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
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.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announced recently that they have secured a £4 million grant from the National Lottery. The grant money will allow the RHS to construct the world’s first National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning, as well as develop three new gardens covering 1.2 hectares and restore their current laboratory.
Set to open in 2020, the proposed centre will be constructed at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey and will feature state-of-the-art research facilities, as well as showcase over one million nationally important science and heritage items for public viewing.
Items such as the Chilean potato plant brought back by Charles Darwin in 1834 (from which our modern potatoes are derived) and lavender collected in France in 1731 are just some of the items that will eventually be showcased.
More than 86,000 herbarium specimens, 24,000 insect specimens, 30,000 pieces of botanical art, 250,000 photographs and 100,000 books charting more than half a millennium of gardening history, will also be moved to the new centre when it opens.
The development of 1.2 hectares surrounding the centre will also see the creation of three new gardens - the Wildlife Garden, the World Food Garden and the Wellbeing Garden. Designed by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winning garden designers and RHS scientists the gardens themselves will act as living laboratories for the centre.
The third and final stage of the development will see the iconic RHS Garden Wisley’s Grade II-listed laboratory restored and opened to the public in 2021.
RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, said: “For more than a century RHS scientists have been working away behind closed doors in our modest laboratory conducting ground-breaking research that impacts us all.
During this time, we have researched the best plants to soak up air pollution, to cool buildings and to help pollinators, and these new facilities will enable us to enter a new era of discovery.
Over the next five years, thanks to National Lottery players, we will reveal incredible horticultural treasures to the public so people can experience the wonders of gardening and see why we need everyone everywhere to garden and grow plants for the good of people, plants and the planet”.
The National Lottery grant is undoubtedly a great boost for the development of such an ambitious project and the funding will obviously enable RHS Garden Wisley’s to get the project off the ground. However a further £2 million does still need to be raised in order to see the project through to completion, ensuring RHS Garden Wisley’s buildings, gardens and collections are protected for future generations.
If you would like to support this project or other RHS initiatives then please visit the RHS website for further information.
With springtime well and truly upon us, many Brits are already enjoying our gardens and open spaces. Maintaining lawns, hedges and borders can be a therapeutic pastime to some and an unwelcome chore to others, but having the right tool can make the difference.
For domestic and professional gardeners, the solution for large-scale garden maintenance has typically been to invest in garden machinery. The powerful petrol engines on these machines would enable the user to get much more work done than manual cutting tools, but they do have their disadvantages. Factors that some users find troublesome include levels of noise and emissions, plus the cost of fuel.
Recent developments in battery technology have reached a point where battery powered garden tools are comparable in performance and price to their fuelled counterparts. Chainsaws, trimmers and blowers powered by battery are quieter and cleaner than petrol models.
Early battery-powered garden gadgets would be let down by long charging times and short operating times. For professional users this would mean too much downtime leading to a loss of earnings unless they invested in spare batteries and chargers. The power delivered by these batteries would also be significantly less than a traditional engine, so it just wouldn’t be worth using for most applications.
In contrast, today’s lithium-ion technology delivers power and efficiency with quick charging and long life. With less moving parts than motor-driven machines, a battery-powered device also offers lower levels of vibration. This further enhances user comfort.
Another battery-powered innovation in recent years has been the robotic lawn mower. Far from being a showy gimmick, these highly efficient machines cut to a very high quality and virtually eliminate the need for man power. Husqvarna’s Automower range can cover lawns of all sizes, and once the machine has been set up, it can operate autonomously and return itself to base for charging.
The City of Edinburgh Council recently trialled Automowers in a cemetery, a school and public park, and noted the remarkable standards of quality and efficiency. With such a small storage footprint and low operating costs, the robotic mowers ticked all the boxes. Rather than rendering members of staff redundant it enabled them to focus on other areas of maintenance, thus improving productivity and saving the council time and money.
Robotic mowers are increasingly being perceived as viable alternatives to riders and pedestrian mowers because of their versatility, efficiency and connectivity. Mapping out the area of operation is done by installing the boundary and guide wires, and some Husqvarna models also have GPS connectivity via their Automower Connect app.
The latest development for Husqvarna Automowers is integration with Amazon Alexa. From September, the 315X, 430X and 450X models of Automower will be able to be controlled using a command in Alexa, giving you even more control over your mowing.
So the landscape of battery powered garden gadgets has moved quickly in recent years, and it might mean the end for fuel-driven machines. Whilst vehicles and construction equipment are still relying on petrol and diesel to be able to compete on value and performance, the market for battery powered garden tools is already taking shape.