Ever wondered how a landscape project is conceived, designed, planned and then implemented?
We have created quite a few over the years, so we thought we would attempt a trial of one here that we did some years ago.
There is an ulterior motive for this, Ann & I would like to attempt to follow a project from ‘Concept to Completion’ on our radio show ‘Growing Trends’
This project started because the owners, a young couple, were starting a family, and wanted the swimming pool that dominated their back garden removed, partly for safety reasons and partly because as you can see it didn’t leave much space for a user friendly garden.
The first step was to survey the garden, in this case we needed to take fairly accurate levels to enable us to quantify the amount of work to do.
This has a number of benefits ;-
When working in tight areas , there was only a side gate access, it is very wise to design in such a way as the least amount of material is taken away or brought in to complete a project – all that hauling is wasting the clients budget.
Secondly it is jolly hard to accommodate too much material when the entire site is being worked on.
With such restricted access the design whilst needing to be imaginative, had to be practical and effective.
The solution was to use the existing access path level as the main level, demolish the pool surrounds, break out the base of the pool, to allow for drainage, then backfill in layers the excavated pool , paving and surplus material to bring the levels up to create a much larger patio.
We even salvaged some of the brick wall to mix in with the new london stocks to create the imposing planter that acts as a statement as you walk around the side of the house to the rear garden.
The new paving extends all the way around the house to give continuity, we added a stock brick edge to the paving so we could link the low black stained timber retaining walls, the raised patio diaz, and the black stained timber edged step to the rest of the garden.
The stained timber edge is protected with polythene sheeting and has a gravel pressure release drain set behind, to prevent water incursion onto the light coloured patio stones, which would stain very easily otherwise.
There is now a much enlarged patio area ideal for young children to play on, which is both safe and secure.
The step detail is modulised to provide continuity and ease of use when walking on, planting the edges will over time soften the strong straight lines and allow the planting to seamlessly flow into the step area.
The steep banks are now lost in the planting, supported by the low stained timber wall, creating a feature rather than an aftercare issue as before.
The completed project, is much easier to maintain, has a huge amount of safe space, opens the garden up, into an interesting useable space, for play, entertaining , whilst giving more light to the inside of the house and a feeling of spaciousness.
You can hear Ann & Chris talking to garden owners and the experts that help them on Growing Trends ( just click this link) it will send you to our internet radio show.
If you have an interesting garden or story to tell do drop us a line, we will get back to you in a few days.
We would love to hear from you..
Ann & Chris
Alternatively take a look at our web site at www.grotrends.com it’s packed with helpful hints.
Today you can chuckle at my expense !!!
Designing & Building award winning landscapes has been a very rewarding, satisfying, fun filled occupation, of course there have been days one prefers to have skipped or passed by, yet more where looking back it was quite amusing now – I’m sure you too have a few you could share with the growing readers too.
So Ann and Chris are making you an offer you cannot refuse? – well perhaps you can !
Here is the challenge. If you have an amusing enough incident and you share it here by way of a comment,
Ann & I will call you ( we will have to keep this to an English conversation for now) , we will give you at least 5 minutes to describe in your own words the Opps! moment, you may also give your business a gentle plug!
Hows that ?
So let’s get the ball rolling with some of those Opps ! or “Out take” moments that have happened to me.
“Hook – Up”
The first that I remember wasn’t actually related to horticulture it was whilst working during a summer recess from college, working as a summer assistant lock keeper,on the River Thames at Mapledurham, which I think is in Oxfordshire, as I recall a quite well known movie was being filmed at the time called “The Eagle has Landed”, just across the reach from the lock.
On this particular day, there was lots of action and noise from the film set, lots of tourist and regular cruisers plying up and down the Thames. The lock is quite large – from memory nearly 200 ft long and about 16ft wide with a 5 ft rise and fall. Because we were busy we were packing in the boats. Anyway, having filled the lock with boats I opened the sluice gates to let the water out and let the lock water level fall around 5 ft, as this happened I was distracted by the filming. the next minute I turned to see all the boats hooked up with no water beneath! … not a good position to be in !
It took some time to undo the resultant mess….
Sticking to water… one night I was making a visit to a potential client on the way home, it was around dusk, the home owner was a banker, they had a lovely home in Chislehurst, Kent. After a brief talk we took a short stroll around the garden as dusk was fading, it was a long time but it was quite dark by the time we headed back to the house.
For some reason, I was talking to the client side by side one moment and the next I was treading muddy water, tearing though a rather decrepit swimming pool cover having missed the dog leg steps on the poolside.
The water soon reached my waste, and my suit took on a rather unusual color and smell..meanwhile the client rushed indoors exclaiming I had fallen into the pool, which brought the whole family out giggling !.. somewhat soaking I drove the last 15 miles home. We ended up completing the project, one of the requirements was to break out the miscreant swimming pool !
On another occasion we were contracted to dredge a small lake and construct a weir. ( a pond is in my definition an area of water in which you can throw a stone over it to land on the other bank. A lake is where the stone falls into the water). So dredging a lake is a task, requiring a variety of big toys… in this case we arranged with the local waterways folks to block ( legitimately) the upper inflow channel, allowing the water in the lower lake to fall around 8-12 ft which would allow the use of a piece of equipment similar to a dragline.
Unfortunately, whilst we knew the plan, the water folks knew the plan and the parks department knew the plan, nobody had told the security guys – who “unblocked’ the upper lake outfall late in the night, thinking some vandal had blocked up the outfalls !
So after about two days of working we returned in the morning, to find the lake full of water , the equipment marooned 50 ft out in the lake,with their tracks buried and the mud slowly engulfing the cab.. some drastic action was needed, a very heavy lift truck was used to winch out the equipment, and we changed our method of removing the silt,to pumping the now slurry into a temporary lagoon to dry out before carting away.
“An up-lifting experience”
The next was a tad more mundane, well it started that way at least. We had just completed a large ‘cut & fill’ project covering many tens of acres on a setting out ground for a new power station, we were preparing one area of about 30 acres for seeding when suddenly the bomb squad pulled up, I kid you not…
Here is an English sapper exploring on the site !
Apparently they had been told that a lady across the way ( about 1/4mile, you can see the block in the distance) had just recalled a flight of German bombers had dropped their loads of bombs in the 2nd world war ,just where we were working some had failed to explode…
so they dug around for a few days, messing up our seed bed and left, when they failed to find any …..
Some ten years later, whilst preparing for the new Queen Elizabeth II, Dartford bridge, the said 15 or so unexploded bombs were indeed found in the hedge row not 70ft from where the bomb squad had poked around !!!
It was a very useful do not ASSUME moment … you know the meaning don’t Assume as it makes an “ASS out of U and ME”
Enjoy the week !
Ann & Chris
As it seems for some of us climate change is playing havoc with our normal weather – for some way too much rain, others nowhere near enough and yet others both but at the wrong times along with huge temperature variations. I thought it might be an idea to show you some projects that eventually turned out quite well despite the conditions we encountered during construction.
The thing to remember is, that they took longer to complete, longer to establish and usually they cost much more because the folks building them could only work in short time sections.
This first project was constructed on very heavy wet clay, here is the site as we saw it when we started work.
here is the site after we have been working a little while. Almost ready to put the finishing planting, turfing in etc,.
Here, during an inspection, the plants have established and the grass is growing well, you would never know how bad the conditions had been. Happily this project won a number awards for us.
This next site was similar… in this case we recommended the owner take a few long weekends away, whilst the garden looked so bad, actually we also wanted the housebuilder to leave so we could apply a finished landscape, without him running equipment over the finished work.
and so it slowly took shape..notice it’s somewhat tidier looking..
The trick is to let the ground dry out, drain where necessary, and what ever you do, do not over compact the sub surface where planting and lawns are due to be.Also as soon as possible get the site clean and tidy and keep it that way, the client usually has had enough after about week 8 of these very distressing looking pictures., fortunately In the end it looked just like any other project.
perhaps nicer than some..
We found that if management spent a little extra time with the client in these situations, it wasn’t long before the project was back on course, with a happy client and a happy workforce.
Yesterday was the launch of our new internet radio show, it’s really all about people, how they make a difference to the environment they live in, how they have created their very own paradise, landscape or garden space, where they retreat to recharge their batteries after a hectic working day.
Each has it’s very own charisma, all are different, personal, delightful and special, Ann and I are very grateful to these wonderful people opening their truly amazing spaces to us, to interview them.
You can find us at www.cravingtalkradio.com – Growing Trends, we hope you will enjoy each visit with us. Please do, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org ask a question or request we visit you, or like us on Facebook – Growing Trends where you can see more pictures of the garden landscapes we visit each week.
The before picture, oddly we often removed swimming pools, especially when young families moved in.
Now here’s the after picture….
and one looking down from above.. quite a transformation