A few of our recent and current projects...
Wildlife area and ponds within a garden
Client Brief -
To create a wildlife area in an ongoing garden re-design project. The area must blend into the rest of the garden and include two ponds. One of these ponds should be large and the whole area planted with native wildlife friendly plants and flowers. the client is also a keen wildlife photographer.
What We Did -
It is always difficult coming in as part of an ongoing build and to be allocated an area in a much bigger plot. Getting on with other landscapers and designers is majorly important so we ensured that we communicated with them throughout this process. Deciding that 'the larger the better' was the key to water in the wider landscape of the garden we designed a large pond 8mtrs x 5mtrs that would be linked to a smaller pond by a stoney channel/river that would act as an overflow but would also look good when drier. To get the real 'wow' factor and the 'natural' look that we wanted from this space we incorporated a large amount of huge logs and tree trunks. These are not only dramatic but add perching places for wildlife such as dragonflies to sit on in the summer months, giving great opportunities for the client to study and photograph these fabulous insects. The wood will also slowly rot down over a long period of time creating valuable habitat for other invertebrates as well as reptiles and small mammals. We went with rocks and three different sized cobbles as a base around the pond. These tie the whole area together and compliment the grey slate used heavily around the more formal parts of the garden and paths that move you around the garden. This also gives a great base to plant through when we return in the Spring to plant up the pond and areas around the pond with native wildflowers....
Complete garden re-design
Client Brief -
Smash out large old deck and patio and design a modern low maintenance garden with decked areas, room for socialising, accommodate a large trampoline. the garden must have a lawn and pockets of 'easy to care for' planting to attract butterflies and bees.
What We Did -
This really was a job of turning and ugly duckling into a blank canvas and then into a fun garden with elements for all of the family to enjoy! (2 adults, 2 children and 2 dogs!)
This was an interesting job as we were hugely restricted with access into this garden, which was through a neighbouring properties' front garden and narrow side passage. The garden itself was then a meter or more below the level of the narrow access route making the use of machinery impossible. All materials had to be handled in and out of the garden. We also ended up inheriting extra extensive groundwork's that couldn't have been predicted before we started. It is sometime the case that you start with a plan and the job throws you a 'curve-ball' or in this case several curve-balls causing you to revisit and 'adapt' the plan as you go along! This 'evolution' must be used as a positive and not a negative and in this case a simple 'two-tired' garden design evolved into a 'four-tiered' design!!
On lifting the old deck we were presented with several ton of debris and hardcore from a previous garage demolition. To make the situation worse this was mixed into a few ton of heavy clay obviously dug out of the old patio area by a previous owner! With no 'mechanical' access we had to remove a good amount of this waste by hand and barrow but also decided to work with the problem by landscaping and creating extra 'tiers' which actually would work well with the extra 'retaining' sleeper walls that we were forced to build to retain this huge amount of soil and rubble that would be almost impossible to get off of site without costing a huge amount of time and extra labour costs for it's removal.
A good sized raised deck was constructed from the patio doors and this was sat on a solid framework consisting of posts concreted into the ground and solid cross members to support the deck boards. A hand-rail was fitted and this was finished with two lengths of thick rope between each newel post to give an interesting modern look. A set of bespoke stairs lead onto our middle tier which is landscaped with plum slate and a few large 'feature' rocks. planting here is minimal with just a few Sedum and blue 'Sea Thistle' planted between the slate and rocks. Both of this plants will thrive in the poor soil and sunny conditions and should attract butterflies and bees throughout their flowering seasons. Set just above this tier and to the side of the deck is a slightly higher tier, again behind a retaining wall build with sleepers and faced with plum slate. thus area has been designed as an area for a trampoline but can later be utilised for a hot tub or similar as the children get older and grow out of trampolining. by placing this area here we use a part of the garden that otherwise would be redundant and stop the trampoline from blocking both the garden and view as it was doing before. This also protects the new lawn area that would otherwise get churned up or turn yellow from having the trampoline sitting on it at all times. this lawn area is the bottom 'tier' of the garden and is an ideal place for children and dogs to play on and enjoy. A plum slate topped path leads down to a smaller deck right at the bottom of the garden to make the most of the last bit of sun that shines into this area at the end of a hot summers day. An ideal place to wind down and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun sets! Also a great place to watch the bees, butterflies and moths busily buzzing around the 'pollinator-friendly' plants planted in the sleeper raised beds that flank this deck area and pathway.
Showcase Raised Bed -
Client Brief -
A large raised bed made of sleepers to divert pedestrians back onto the footpath preventing further erosion of wildflower area. The raised bed is to showcase plants that are friendly to pollinating insects and that can be easily grown in an average garden to help wildlife.
What we Did -
It's always exciting to be involved in conservation work and this is no exception! Thanks to local resident Gill Brown a neglected area right in the centre shopping area of Nailsea has now been turned into a fabulous wildflower area. To promote the planting of 'bee & butterfly friendly' plants we built a long raised bed using 28 timber sleepers. This created a lovely planting area that was filled with a variety of 'pollinator friendly' perennial plants that were also sourced by Somerset Wildlife Products. This bed also solved an inherent problem of a heavily used 'desire line' that was slowly eating into the wildflower area of this project. The plants planted in the bed promote plants that can be grown in an average garden to attract pollinators.
This is a great Community project that we love and are privileged to have been involved with. If you think you could start a similar project in your own village or town please do contact us as we are happy to discuss how this could be achieved in other areas.
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.