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The Garden Builders Portfolio May 2012

Hampsted Garden Suburb, London 2012 APL Supreme Award Winner

There were very strict guidelines regarding the development of this complex garden landscaping project as the property is located within the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust. The proposed hard landscaping materials specified by the garden designer and The Garden Builders had to initially be approved by the client and then had to be further approved by two agents namely the Suburb trust and the local authority.

An extremely difficult aspect of the works was dealing with the depth of clay within the grounds. Some excavations were as deep as 1.5m, down to the water table. This factor combined with the very wet, cold weather conditions combined to result in a sticky, muddy site during the preparation process.  In order to form the foundations and block-work walls for the dramatic long water rill in the rear garden we had to use a waterproof mortar and wrap the excavations and walls with a damp proof membrane in order that it could dry out prior to fibre glassing.  Due to the season and the incredibly wet weather this drying out process took almost two months.  The fibre glassing works were completed in March just as we entered a warm spring, which assisted the process.

To successfully prepare the planting areas, required specific attention to detail again due to the excessively clay loaded soil. We overcame this by importing a granular horticultural grit mix and then screened and sterilised soil mixed with manure to the planting areas, this mix was well worked in by hand into the excavated planting borders, in some areas the old soil was removed as deeply as 750mm and replaced with our imported soil mix. For the lawns a comprehensive land-drainage system was designed and installed, with guidance from the local authority we created a number of underground soak-aways within the lawn areas for excess water to discharge into.

The setting out of all the stone work in the garden required particular attention.  All aspects of the layout were checked and confirmed by the garden designer and then the client.  The selected stone was a high grade of sawn York stone, again tying in with the requirements of the trust.  All aspects of the hard landscaping angles matched those of the architecture of the house, creating a flow throughout the whole project.  The bricks and even the pointing style had to be approved by the Trust and various samples of bricks/pointing in the form of a sample finished panel had to be presented for approval prior to works beginning.

A major feature of the garden is the somewhat quirky outdoor room situated by the water rill. This bespoke ‘gazebo’ was formed from a mild steel and timber framework and clad with a high grade of lead along the posts and the ring beam. Attention to detail on the corners, folds and joins within the lead work was paramount. An eco friendly ‘green sedum roof’ adds a ‘softness’ to the overall structure and free standing toughened glass partitions create the garden room and offer protection from wind and rain.

An irrigation system was installed discretely within the whole soft-landscape element. The garden is beautifully illuminated in the evening with a variety of exterior stainless steel and powder coated light fittings from the ever popular Hunza range. The planting scheme was fully designed and supplied by the designer. She previously obtained any approval from the Trust and of course the clients for all aspects of the planting.

Our remit on the planting was to fully and correctly prepare all existing and new planting areas. We were then charged with receiving, placing and planting all plants under the designer’s guidance. As with any large planting scheme, there was an element of ‘tweaking’ required. This aspect always takes slightly longer to complete and attention to detail is much more involved than you would originally allow, especially when onsite design decisions needed to be investigated, trialled, approved and then implemented. Saying that, this process was well worth the extra time it took as the end result was very satisfying the finish speaks for itself, this is true for both the hard landscape and soft landscape elements of this entire project.

The building works took 4-5 months in all from start to finish. Approximate costings – £100,000, not including the planting.

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