THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


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

HOW TO FIND THE BEST GARDEN MAINTENANCE COMPANY

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 Maintenance in Surrey and South West London.

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.

Landscaping Solutions Garden Services.

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.

Landscaping Solutions Award Winning Garden Designs.

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 Maintenance Service.

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 info@landscapingsolutionsltd.co.uk to ask us to give you a call.

​GETTING THE DETAILS RIGHT IN AN AWARD-WINNING GARDEN DESIGN

There’s what you want from a garden and there’s what it and life impose on you. That’s where garden design and skilful landscaping step in - to marry the two into a something that meets your vision, services your needs and deals with its problems in a satisfactory manner. Oh, and looks good too.

Dining area garden design, Barnes, London.

Timber slatted fencing increased the privacy of the garden while the limited palette of colour, requested by the client, added to the calm elegance.

This garden in Barnes, south-west London, designed by Justin Greer, was built by us in 2012 and, we’re proud to say, garnered a BALI award for Domestic Garden Construction (costing between £30,000 and £60,000).

What were the problems? Well, it shared issues that we see frequently in London gardens. The plot is pretty much triangular, 10 metres wide at the house, narrowing to 2 metres along its 20-metre length. For tools and toys, it needed storage space that didn’t detract from the look of the garden, and it needed a greater sense of privacy from the houses close by.

In addition, drainage of rainwater from the rear extension had to be dealt with and, as happens so often with major garden projects, enormous changes were taking place in the house at the same time, the most major being the digging of a new cellar.

Barnes garden before work on the design commenced.

The triangular shape of the plot was very clear in the garden before its makeover.

These are merely obstacles that we meet frequently in the course of our work, however. Certainly they were nothing to interfere with our mission to remove the dilapidated decking patio and completely replace the existing unstructured and obviously awkwardly shaped garden with an enticing, more formally laid-out space that would indulge the clients’ desire to be outdoors, relaxing, dining and barbecuing with the family.

Creating the garden’s calm, relaxing atmosphere is garden designer Justin Greer’s strongly geometrical layout, with space for entertaining next to the house, a gas barbecue, a play area screened from the main garden and house. The whole has an elegant, timeless feel.

Sawn Yorkstone and reclaimed bricks garden design.

Sawn Yorkstone was used as a traditional paving and, here, benchtop, to complement the reclaimed bricks and old boundary wall.

Part of achieving this feel lies in the materials used. As anyone who’s been in an old London garden knows, the boundaries are usually tall walls, made of weathered London bricks. This was no different, but one of the boundary walls had reached demolition point, so it was replaced before we began work. This provided the ideal opportunity to create coherence in materials by matching design elements to the remaining boundary wall and we recycled the bricks into the raised beds and water feature. This required a fair amount of work in cleaning up the bricks - we also had to bring in some top-ups from the London Reclaim Brick Merchants - but it was worth it for the sense of age and history they add to the design.

Landscaping Solutions precise planting for formal garden design.

Precise planting is absolutely necessary to make a formal garden design work.

Of course, a formal feel is more easily imposed on a regular-shaped plot - think Roman piazzas or Hampton Court’s Privy Garden.

Here, the hardwood screen not only hides the play area and storage shed but squares off the space in a backdrop to the pleached hornbeams, which in combination with box hedging, standard bay trees and Quercus Ilex add the backbone of formal planting. This needs to be placed precisely for the effect to work as planned, otherwise the eye is drawn to the one trunk that’s not quite in line.

Finally, underpinning the design are the foundations that make it work - the sump for the water feature, hidden beneath the polished pebbles, is reinforced to avoid it being damaged when people walk over it; the hard-landscaped areas drain into plant border and through the polished pebbles.

Barnes, London garden design by Landscaping Solutions.

Polished pebbles create contrast with the sawn paving, as well as areas for rain to drain away.

And what about that rainwater draining off the extension? Hidden pipework takes the run-off along the east boundary and into a soak-away beneath the children’s trampoline, which was placed on artificial turf. This was to ensure the soak-away was away from the footings of the old wall, where it could have eventually made it unstable. It took careful planning and installation.

Also demanding a lot of planning, discussion, collaboration and co-operation was the fact that we had to build the deck before the light well was put down into the new cellar. As we explained in The Secret to a BALI Award-Winning Garden Design, communication is key to making sure a project runs smoothly, especially when you’re sharing the space with other contractors.

Landscaping Solutions, Barnes, London garden design.

Strong horizontals slow the eye as you look down the garden, drawing attention away from the narrowing shape.

Thanks to preparation, communication and our team of skilled landscapers, the build was not only completed within the course of two months - August to September 2012 - but also gave us a BALI National Landscape Award Winner in 2013.

If you’re a garden designer and would like to discuss how we can help you with your next project, or if you have a garden would like more information on how we at Landscaping Solutions can help you with its design and landscaping, contact us on 0208 2412402 or email us at info@landscapingsolutionsltd.co.uk.

THE SECRET TO A BALI AWARD-WINNING GARDEN DESIGN

BALI Award winning garden by 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.

BALI Award Ceremony

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.

 Garden seating areas.

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.”

Intimate garden lighting

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.

 Landscaping Solutions BALI Award 2018

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.”

Landscaping Solutions front garden designed by Jilayne Rickards.

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.

Bespoke Design Corten Steel Light Posts.

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.

Front garden gully cover.

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.

Black Porcelain from London Stone

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.

Cor-Ten steel screens and sculpture highlighted at night.

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.

The Landscaping Solutions team.

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 info@landscapingsolutionsltd.co.uk

BALI NATIONAL LANDSCAPE AWARDS 2018

BALI Landscaping Award 2018

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.

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