A few of our recent and current projects...
Wildlife Pond Clearance -
Client Brief -
Sensitive clearance of a overgrown wildlife pond that hasn't been cleaned for over two years.
What we Did -
Wildlife ponds are something that we specialise in here at Somerset Wildlife Products. We thoroughly enjoy creating such valuable habitats for wildlife by building and maintaining wildlife ponds.
Our priority in any maintenance job such as this is to cause minimum disturbance to the wildlife and the habitat that they are living in. When cleaning a pond we will use a series of different 'sieve' type tools with varying hole sizes, these work by being suspended over a container filled with pond water, which all the weed and detritus that is cleared out of the pond is placed on top of allowing creatures such as water shrimps, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs and newts to pass through the different hole sizes and drop into the pond water below. This set up will always be left for as long as possible to maximise the number of creatures that fall through. In this situation we continued other garden maintenance jobs to allow the maximum time for as much wildlife as possible to work it's way through to the water. All weeds and overgrown plants are removed and divided as required. Clearance is by hand where possible or using a range of special nets that can scoop out muck without harming the creatures within it. The last job of the day will always be to sort through the weeds and muck by hand to rescue any insects that haven't managed to make it down into the water or that may be too large to fit through the smaller holes. Once happy that we have rescued as much wildlife as possible the water in the container is returned to the pond along with all it's inhabitants. Although this may sound like a disturbance it is very important to keep wildlife ponds clean to ensure of a healthy habitat. It is in a clean healthy pond that wildlife will thrive, ponds that are allowed to fill with leaves will slowly become stagnant and support no wildlife at all. For more information about our pond cleaning service please do get in touch.
What we did:
The idea of this garden was to provide easy planting areas for children and to have something that will last a long time and be easy to maintain. We started by marking out the plan on the grass and then with the help of some parents who very generously volunteered to help we stripped off the turf from the required area. This area was then raked and levelled to give a good firm and even base for the beds. Weed suppressant membrane was laid and pegged in place. In an area with heavy foot traffic, such as this, it is important to think of safety and ensure that there are no loose edges for people to trip on. The edges of the area were then lined using long lengths of timber board, these were held in place using heavy wood pegs that the boards were screwed into. Timber edging such as this gives clear demarcation of areas but also gives a pleasing finish by tying in with the timber raised beds and timber benches. The raised beds were constructed and lifted into place and filled with top soil. The last job of the day (or night by the time we had finished) was to cover the area with wood-chip/bark and fix the benches and tree seat into place. We have built five raised beds to hopefully provide one for each year and one that will be planted with pollinator friendly plants so the children can learn about the value of nature and how it helps us with much of our food production. The plan did evolve slightly as we built it and we changed the layout and placement of the raised beds to ensure that there is plenty of room in the case that disabled access is required. By pushing the beds up against the fence at one end we have allowed for the planting of wildlife friendly shrubs between each bed, these include Hebe and Buddleia which will both attract butterflies, bees and other valuable pollinators to the garden.
Client Brief & Requirements -
A garden to attract wildlife but in particular butterflies.
A garden to address current and future 'slight' mobility limitations
Requirement to be able to do some easy 'light' gardening (as limited by mobility)
Replacement of a large decked area outside house to accommodate a large hot tub
Retention of a small lawned area
Size - 39'x19' with a side return of 21'x4'
Aspect - South Facing
Soil - free draining top soil on pure holme sand
What we did:
The requirement for the deck was to keep it next to the house and with the hot tub electrics already in place this makes sense. We added wooden 'privacy' trellis panels to give the tub a degree of privacy. In keeping with the wooden deck we added two large raised beds constructed out of sleepers. These were 'topped' with decking board to not only add consistency of materials but to create a seat that can be used by the client whilst carrying out light gardening work within the beds or to add extra seating when family and friends visit. 'Tweaking' the plan as we went and to keep the continuity of materials we used the same boards to create edging to the paths. On the left the path leads to a small wildlife pond neatly edged by sleepers. The longer path on the right leads to a 'wildlife' and seating area at the bottom of the garden. This area is terraced with shallow steps that are also edged and fronted using the same deck boards. Both raised beds are packed full of perennial plants that have been chosen specifically to attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial pollinators. These plants include Aster, Gerenium, Veronicastrum, Echinacia and Helenium. Plum slate has been used for the path with corner areas planted with Sedum and Lavender that will thrive in the free draining soil and again will attract butterflies and bees. The wildlife pond is small but the planting of Marsh Marigold, Water Avens and Iris will attract pollinators as well as frogs, toads and dragonflies. The wildlife seating area at the top of the garden is surrounded by four different varieties and colours of Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) and under-planted with spring flowering bulbs such as Bluebell, Crocus and Wild Daffodils. Some perennial plants have also been planted here but space is left for the client to add a few of her own favourite plants.
The side Return is simply laid with plum slate in keeping with the paths and deck edging. We have added trellis panels to frame the entrance and disguise storage cabinets that the client needed to keep. Bespoke planters were constructed using reclaimed timber from the garden and planted with a mixture of ferns, grasses and flowering perennials that will help to lighten an otherwise dark and unused area. As this return is outside the kitchen window and provides the main view down the garden from the house we painted the whole length of the wall (60 feet) in a bright 'Teal' colour chosen by the client to lead the eye through this passage and into the garden beyond. The continued use of plum slate, wood and teal coloured walls now neatly tie these two areas together.