I am a garden designer and more to the point I am a very lucky garden designer as I am married to a very good landscape contractor, Peter Garland of Townscapes Landscape contractors http://www.carolinegarland.com/
Why is this particularly lucky?
10 good reasons:
It doesn’t matter how clever and detailed your garden design is, if you don’t have it built well you may as well not have bothered – seriously! If you are a busy garden designer you cannot be on site all the time at each of your gardens.
- Your landscape contractor handles the builders. This is an important, sometimes difficult, job. Builders usually know their stuff but you don’t want them going “off piste” so the landscape contractor should assure quality and detailed adherence to your design. While your designs are being built minute by minute, second by second small mistakes can be made by the builder. You need a good landscape contractor who can understand and translate your design to the builder at every opportunity and can oversee the detail for you. The landscape contractor’s role is to liaise between you and the actual guy building the plot. This guarantees good quality finish which is essential.
- Your landscape contractor correctly works out all the heights and depths from your design. There may be earth moving required. This needs a true expert – you need neither too much nor too little earth moved! This earth has to be bagged up and disposed of; choosing the correct means here is important – skips (including permission from the Council for pavement space), bags, grab lorries etc have to be ordered.
- The landscape contractor checks the fall of the land, all heights, depths and levels. He checks for subsidence and drainage (including inspection covers and soak-aways)
- Your landscape contractor must oversee the building of retaining or decorative walls, steps and paving. This might include making sure that a driveway has the proper materials to take traffic rather than just footfall. He also oversees fencing and trellising, very often tailor made.
- A good landscape contractor keeps on top of all quantities. Ordering the materials and products. This includes ordering in sand and cement, MOT, ballast for concrete bases, paving stones, bricks, gravel, soil, compost and/or turves and fencing/trellising.. These are just some of the materials that have to be ordered in the correct amounts to arrive on the right day. Very often paving and bricks have a lead time on delivery. This has to be factored into the builders’ work schedule.
- The landscape contractor therefore has to be responsible for the sequence of events. Your landscape contractor makes sure the correct machinery and tools are on site at the right time: diggers, compactor plates, cement mixers, angle grinders, drills and bits. He must make sure that loos and protective ground cover (Cordex) etc are on site; both to protect the clients’ properties. Evidently the builder may be responsible for a lot of this but the landscape contractor co-ordinates all the materials with the appropriate machines and tools with the relevant builders on site at the correct time.
- Your landscape contractor must keep an eye on finish and finesse ie quality. Every little detail – how an inspection cover is recessed into the paving, the correct drainage slots, finish around pipes and awkward corners. He checks the individual paving and ensures that the best possible pointing is applied. Also how the paving is laid; many mistakes can be made here and badly laid paving with bad “patterning” ruins everything. There is no point in choosing a high end good quality limestone for instance if it is laid incorrectly – this is an art in itself. Equally a badly built wall is hideous.
- A good landscape contractor helps you, the garden designer, ensure that the correct paving and coping is ordered. Again we are talking about quality and finish here. If you have stipulated a beautiful bull nosed step, a curved wall or fine York stone coping (to look good and protect the wall beneath it) it is up to the landscape contractor to make sure that this is correctly supplied.
- Your landscape contractor, last but not least, oversees the gardeners, lawn laying and planting. Very often this is relatively simple but sometimes huge trees have to be got onto the site by cranes and may have to be tied in to the ground. This is huge responsibility. The correct earth, depth, drainage etc has to be thought about for every plant/shrub/tree.
- At the end of the day the landscape contractor handles all the suppliers’ invoices, transactions, VAT etc so he can back up/verify your original quotation for the client. Choose a good landscape contractor and you’ll be alright!