Welcome to our Blog. Inspiration, updates and industry trends from the team at 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 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 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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to ask us to give you a call.
Futurescape is a leading event in the garden landscaping and design world. This year’s event, held last month, included a Summit addressing what the industry might do to combat climate change.
A packed Summit at Futurescape 2019. Ben West (second from left) on stage with Andrew Wilson, Sarah Eberle, Katya Griffiths, Paul Cowell and Alistair Bayford.
On stage were Landscaping Solutions’ Ben West, alongside industry leading lights and award-winning designers Sarah Eberle, Alistair Bayford and Andrew Wilson, President of the Landscape Institute Adam White, garden designer Katya Griffiths, Chartered Landscape Architect Paul Cowell and the Landscape Institute’s Noel Farrer.
Chances are that Climate Change is a shadow that hangs over you in some form or other. It’s difficult to avoid, as each day another worry seems to be added to the list of environmental damage: habitat destruction, plastic pollution, chemicals in the food...
The good news is that garden-owners are perfectly placed to play a part in creating a solution. “Gardens cover a larger area that Nature reserves in this country,” says Ben. “As the wider and wilder landscape becomes eaten up by development and intensive farming, gardens have become highly important last refuges for wildlife.”
It’s not about having the garden that doesn’t suit you, though. There are so many small changes that can add up to a greater impact. At the Summit, Andrew Wilson said, “Are we all going to change world tomorrow? It has to be incremental. If there’s a moment when ‘incremental’ can happen, it has to be now. Planting may be a garden at a time or a verge at a time, but that’s better than nothing.”
This is why it’s important to select a garden designer or landscaper with care, to find someone who is interested and knowledgeable in making a garden sustainable, for both you and Nature.
It’s an approach encapsulated in Sarah Eberle’s words at the Summit. “It’s about Man’s relationship with Nature, about our protection of Nature and what Nature can do for Humanity.”
The good news is that, as a garden-owner, there are garden designers and landscapers who are already ahead of the game. The Society of Garden Designers has started a programme of advice to members to enable more informed decisions on materials. A well-qualified designer will understand the plants that will suit your area best, and what will be useful for pollinators and attract birds to the garden.
Landscapers with an interest in their environmental impact buy hard landscaping from sustainable suppliers and environmentally sound businesses; they research and practise sustainable construction methods, reduce cement use and carry out environmental audits of their business.
Here at Landscaping Solutions, we do all these things and work with a number of SGD members. Nature-Friendly Garden Design is a speciality of ours. We can advise on how to reduce environmental impact, how reusing and recycling materials and keeping excavated soil on site can save money, reducing the need to hire skips and pay waste costs.
“What will you do tomorrow?” was the final question asked at the Summit. Sometimes, it can be hard to think of changes we can realistically make to help the climate change agenda. But if you’re thinking of redesigning your garden, then choosing designers and landscapers who will help find the most sustainable solutions alongside the stunning design you want is the first step.
“We are the superheroes of tomorrow,” said Alistair Bayford at the Summit. Join us in being a superhero to your garden.
For more information on how we can help create a sustainable, nature-friendly design that gives you the garden you want, contact Ben on 0208 241 2402 or email email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.