I had completed a landscaping and garden design & build for this client 7 years previous. The Contract was in Donnybrook, Dublin at the end of a ‘Cul De Sac’ with zero room to get up and down.
On first site visit the house was under renovation. The Aspect of the back was North facing. A limestone path had been installed at the front, concrete and beds along the West side and a substantial oatmeal granite rectangular patio installed in the back. The new extension had large windows looking out into the garden. The West boundary was coppiced Sycamores, the East an attractive old wall, the back wall, beautiful black limestone, covered in Ivy. The site was overrun with weeds especially Bindweed. The only plants worth saving were a bay laurel at the front and a holly at the back. There was an old 8×6’ garden shed in the West corner, full of stuff. There was a large mound of good black weed infested topsoil in the East corner. There was an outdoor socket situated at the side of the house. The Sycamore hedge was the boundary to a Seminary which had ample parking and perfect access for materials. Taking on the job depended on whether I got permission to use this access, otherwise it would’nt be worth the hassle.
After surveying the site, taking photos etc. I sat down with the clients and wrote the following brief:
- Low maintenance
- Removal of Sycamore boundary
- Installation of concrete post & panel fence
- Synthetic grass
- All year-round interest
- Removal of old shed and contents
- New larger shed
- Inground trampoline
- Child friendly
- Dog friendly
- Garden lighting
- Save and prune Bay Laurel at front
- Creation of written argument to replace Sycamores with fence to be presented to the top priest in the Seminary, which would be then given to other priests and voted on.
- Organise meeting with priest and walk site.
The priest turned out to be a gentleman, he presented the plan, it was accepted on the provision we included a hedge along the front of the fence on their side. I recommended common Laurel, as fast growing, good for wildlife and evergreen, unlike Sycamores. I was also given access with conditions, as classes were taking place through the week.
The contract was broken down into 3 areas. First was the removal of Sycamores & building of fence, second, building garden front and back, third was the killing of weeds for a whole growing season before planting, called the ‘Stale bed technique’.
For the first phase we used a chainsaw to clear most of the Sycamores, then, with a 6 tonne digger cleared all the roots. There were a few old rusty posts we left to help with boundary line. There was a 2ft drop between the two properties. We used 10ft concrete posts, dropped into holes filled with concrete. Then 2 gravel boards between, acting as a retainer to the soil. The pre-made fence panels were then inserted. The hard part with this job was to keep the posts all the same height, for the whole run. A Laurel hedge was finallty planted with mature plants every meter on the Seminary side.
For the second phase, I drew up a design which included, raised beds, Synthetic grass lawn, sunken gravel paths, inground trampoline, 10×8’ custom built garden shed, gravel area at the front with central bed and planting.
Working within the brief, the design was created using rectangles within the rectangular shape of the garden & included low voltage garden lighting throughout.
The gravel boards on my clients side created an eyesore. This forced the decision for raised beds on both sides. The raised beds were constructed using 1000x200x100mm oatmeal granite kerbs capped with 600x150x30mm granite strips. The use of the kerbs really speeded up the process of raised bed building and looked great. Going forward they would need zero maintenance apart from the odd power spray. Existing soil heap and soil excavations for levels were then used to fill raised beds. Next to the raised beds were sunken gravel paths bordered with 200x100x100mm tumbled granite cobbles. Blue LED lights were housed in the cobbles at the base of the raised bed every 1.5M, both sides.
The path surrounded a large 40mm synthetic grass lawn. The fact the path was sunken really improved the overall look, interest and definition, simple idea but really effective. Behind the path at the back of the garden, space was provided for a new 10×8’ custom built Baumanns garden shed and 4.3M Berg inground trampoline with surround. Space was left behind shed for composting bin, pots, ladder etc. Leaving a space behind a shed is a great idea as allows extra storage, out of sight. A seat was also included using granite kerbs capped with hardwood ‘Bangkiri’ 4” boards. Uplighters, glazed the natural stone wall with spike lights for plants within the raised beds.
Lighting cables led back to the outdoor socket where a 150 Watt transformer was plugged in & connected to ‘Dusk till Dawn sensor’, this allowed for the automatic lighting via ‘Photo-electric cell’ for 1 to 9 hrs in length. The lighting system was 12 volt requiring little energy. Effectively leaving the lights on all night was like boiling a kettle.#
The front consisted again of granite cobbles raised up from the existing limestone path. Cobbles were used to rise again creating feature circular bed and rectangular bed. This whole area was then covered with geo-textile & disguised with 50mm Ballylusk gravel. Cobbles also created beds either side of the front window providing balance. On street lighting made garden lighting defunct in this area.
Finally, the fencing was painted Ronseal ‘Slate’ grey, which worked really well with the naturally grey concrete posts.
Work to carry out the job included
- Remove trees and shrubs and drag to chipping area
- Remove existing green waste and drag to chipping area
- Chip all green waste and cart to dump
- Dig out stumps using 5 tonne digger and cart to dump
- Remove ivy using 1.7 tonne digger and cart to dump
- Remove fencing, posts, foundations and existing garden shed, cart to dump
- Dig out run to make room for gravel boards/concrete posts using 1.7 tonne digger and store soil
- Supply and install 8’ high fence using 10’ concrete posts, 2 gravel boards and 6×6’ pressure treated shiplap panels (48Lm)
- Back fill soil against gravel boards on Fr Vincents side
- Prepare area where Ivy has been removed and lay grass seed (144Sqm)
- Plant 5’ Laurel hedge (24)
- Remove all rubbish and cart to dump.
- Remove unwanted plants and prune Bay Laurel
- Supply and install raised edge using 200x100x100mm tumbled oatmeal cobble
- Supply and create bed for hedge using 200x100x50mm tumbled oatmeal cobble
- Supply and spread topsoil to bring up levels (2.5 Tonne)
- Meet client at Gardenworld Nurseries to choose plants
- Plant chosen plants and cover soil with geo-textile matting, disguise matting with 25mm layer of Ballylusk gravel
- Fill beds along side passage and plant
- Remove existing shed and cart to dump
- Dump contents of shed
- Supply and install raised bed using Oatmeal granite kerbs capped with 600x150mm Oatmeal granite to a height of 45cm
- Fill raised bed with topsoil
- Erect & install sunken trampoline (Supplied by client)
- Supply and install sunken gravel path using 14mm Ballylusk gravel bordered with 200x100x100mm tumbled oatmeal cobbles, install 11 ‘Astrum’ uplighters within cobbles by raised bed every 1.5Lm to glaze face of granite bed
- Pave area behind shed
- Supply and install seat by trampoline using Oatmeal granite kerbing capped with Bangkhiri hardwood
- Supply and install quarry screenings to bring up levels for synthetic lawn
- Supply and install 40mm synthetic grass lawn
- Plant beds with chosen plants
- Supply and install low voltage lighting system including transformer, cable, 8 stainless steel ‘Arigo’ spike lights, 3 ‘Diemos’ downlighters and 11 ‘Astrum’uplighters
- Mini digger rental
- Remove all rubbish and cart to dump
The planting as mentioned previously was left for 4 months to allow for treatment of existing weeds with glyphosate every 4 weeks. This insured no weed problems for newly planted plants. The plants included: Prunus laurocerasus hedging, Buxus hedging, Buxus balls, Standard olives, standard photinia, stabdard Bay laurels, Trachleospernum jasminoide climbers, Wisteria sinesnis climbers, Euonymus alatus specimen, Ilex aquifoloium specimen, Cornus controversa specimens, Japanese maple specimens, Dodonea purpurea specimen, Santolina spp, Agapanthus spp, Heuchers ‘Purple Palace’, Diosma ‘Sunset’, Skimmia japonica, Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’, Astilbe spp, Paeonia spp, Geranium spp, Rosmarinus prostrates, Erica spp, Cotoneaster congestus, Acanthus spinosis
The client was very happy with the results, and kindly posted the following review on Google:
“Kevin is an amazing person to work with. Visionary, patient and very flexible. He loves his work and it shows. Very creative and doesn’t try to over-engineer. This was the second time we used Kevin after he made our postage stamp of a previous garden look amazing. Final point – the gardens he designs are built to last. They are easily maintained.”
If you want to create an amazing space out of your garden, contact Award winning designer/contractor, Kevin Baumann on 086 8198444