THE LANDSCAPING SOLUTIONS BLOG


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

​GARDEN DESIGNER PAMELA JOHNSON

Here at Landscaping Solutions, we’ve got to know some of the garden designers we work with pretty well.

Completed garden in Hampton, Surrey, designed by Pam Johnson

A garden in Hampton, Surrey, designed by Pam Johnson. She describes her designs as having become increasingly “planty” over the years.

One of the great pleasures of working with the same person on a variety of projects over the years is becoming familiar with another’s working practices so you virtually start from where you left off when the next garden design brings an opportunity to team up again.

“It’s the team you end up working with that’s critical,” says Pamela Johnson. Pam’s had twenty-five years’ experience in the business, training at the College of Garden Design when it wasn’t so much a growing profession, as she says, but a very small growing hobby. Things have certainly changed in a quarter of a century.

Landscaping Solutions ground preparation, Surrey

For Pam, there’s no substitute for good ground preparation. “If it’s not done properly, it’s hard to get a garden working when it all starts growing.”

Since she started, Pam has designed many gardens in and around London, but has now moved to Dorset. “I had enough of tiny London gardens and the logistics,” she says; if you’ve any experience of the problems of parking, access and spoil removal in Central London, you can probably sympathise.

While she was here, though, the result was some truly gorgeous gardens, of which we’ve been lucky enough to build a large number. Building relationships with designers is equally precious to us. “Ben’s very good with clients and good at running a team, which is critical,” says Pam, “but the next person who’s very important is the foreman.”

A Landscaping Solutions garden in Hampton, Surrey, designed by Pam Johnson

Another view of Pam Johnson’s design for a garden in Hampton, Surrey.

The foreman is the one who heads up the team on site, keeps things running smoothly, liaises with the client and keeps the designer informed on a day-to-day basis.

“As a designer,” adds Pam, “that’s the person you work with most.” Here at Landscaping Solutions we have three permanent teams and the foreman of each stays with a project from start to finish. “That’s critical, too,” adds Pam. “If a foreman has a good sense of design themselves, and an understanding of your design, is good with the client and understands your relationship with the client, then it’s good combination. If you’ve not got any of that, then it’s a nightmare. Tom, whom I worked with, is delightful, very talented.”

Beautifully balanced garden design

A beautifully balanced design which won a BALI award for a Surrey garden.

Pam approaches a garden very much from the point of view of the client. “I interpret within their means, manage their expectations. You don’t want something inappropriate to the circumstances. If I was to design something that I wanted, it wouldn’t fit the brief.” At the forefront is always the understanding that, as she says, “It’s not my garden, it’s the client’s garden. And it’s important for the landscaper to respect that too.”

There’s quite a skill to marrying up expectations with circumstance to create a happy solution. Some clients came to Pam because they loved the look of her own garden. “Aspirations can be tricky,” she says. “Unless you were a really good gardener, you wouldn’t be able to achieve that.”

Now in Dorset, Pam is taking a break from designing and, instead, is concentrating on working on the blank canvas of her new garden, currently mostly gravel. “It needs proper structure,” she explains, and she plans to do things gradually, seeing how they develop. “I’m doing it very slowly, rather than all at once. ‘Slow gardening’,” she laughs.

Landscaping Solutions, BALI award winning garden, Surrey.

Pam used a sinuous path to echo the border of the pond in this BALI award-winning Surrey garden.

Starting when garden design was so young an occupation, Pam spent many years as a member of the Society of Garden Designers, which has presided over an improvement in working practices within the profession. “The SGD has set out quite rigid guidelines about how to conduct business, making sure everything’s done properly and professionally.”

This has turned out to be to everyone’s advantage, from the client, who knows that sensible quotations have been obtained, to the landscaper, who gets as full a brief as possible from the start. “The guidelines inform the way you deal with contractors,” explains Pam, “so you get comparable quotes for a specification. If all contractors quote for slightly different things, that means nothing.” As a client, it’s vital that your designer understands how to specify and get quotes. “There’s always an anomaly,” adds Pam, “but that’s the designer’s problem to work out.”

As anyone who’s had a garden designed and built knows, “something unseen”, as Pam puts it, is likely to crop up. If a problem occurs, it’s usually the site conditions at the centre of it. “The weather,” explains Pam, “or something buried, or a neighbour who complains.

“A landscaper can be instrumental in working something out,” she adds. “You need someone with good people skills. Ben will have a talk with a difficult neighbour and then say, ‘We had a problem, but we’ve sorted it.’ It’s great when someone does that.”

Garden design by Pamela Johnson

It’s important that a garden matches the needs of its owner.

Not only that, but we understand that the project we’re working on won’t be the only iron you, as a designer, have in the fire. “If you want him to, Ben’s very good at stepping in and dealing with stuff that would have been the designer’s job if, for whatever reason, the designer can’t do it,” adds Pam.

The better a designer and landscaper get to know each other and the way they work best, the easier it is to liaise and anticipate any difficulties in a build. That’s why we believe in the importance of getting to know how the designers we work with like to do things and in building up a relationship. We’re proud also to have contributed to the success of a number of award-winning gardens in London and the South-East.

Pam will eventually open her new garden for the NGS, but it won’t be very soon. In the meantime, however, keep an eye out for a blog about her new garden and courses on gardening. We’ll give you a shout on our social media when they start.

“Designing gardens is a delight,” says Pam. We couldn’t agree more!

If you’d like a chat about how Landscaping Solutions can help you achieve the design you want, then give Ben West a ring on 0208 2412402 or email info@landscapingsolutions.co.uk

​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.

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.

​DOES A GARDEN ADD TO THE VALUE OF YOUR HOME?

adding-value-to-your-home

As you would expect, the majority of people go to great lengths when sprucing up their homes in the hope of making a sale. In the past gardens would foolishly be overlooked in this process, their potential undervalued by homeowners and prospective buyers alike.

But times have changed. Almost 40% of Brits now spend more time in their gardens compared to five years ago.

Over the years homeowners have begun to take more and more pride in the layout and landscaping of their gardens, with buyers also following suit, putting the same emphasis on the garden as they do other rooms when viewing a property. The garden is becoming an integral consideration in the house buying process.

A huge part of selling a house is standing out from the crowd. Large or small, the condition and appearance of a property’s garden is going to play a part in successfully achieving that.

First impressions count and in many cases the garden is the first thing a person sees when arriving at your property. A badly maintained garden could be enough to put off a potential buyer before they even set foot inside.

Research recently conducted by property buying website “Sell House Fast” surveyed estate agents, garden designers, landscape gardeners, property professionals and consultants. The results found that a well-maintained garden can add up to 20% to the value of your property. Based on the current UK average for property prices that’s £60,000, and up to £90,000 for properties in London.

We’re not necessarily talking about acres of land either. The majority of the estate agents surveyed agreed that even a small garden or courtyard, if well crafted, would certainly be worth more than a similar property on the same street where nothing had been done.

In a separate survey conducted by estate agent Foxtons it was also found that 72% of their clients said they would pay more for a home with a garden.

What is certain from all this is that a well-maintained outdoor space is more in demand then ever before and if you are thinking of selling up in the near future, your garden could easily be the deal breaker.

If you have found this article interesting you may also enjoy one of our previous articles; The Importance Of Good Garden Design And Landscaping.

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