I won this contract through the client walking past a job, we were completing next door, on Sydney Parade Ave, Dublin. He complimented our work and asked about getting, design/price for his own place, I went immediately to have a look. The house was situated in the Merrion Court complex Dublin, a group of tall, red bricked apartments, everywhere was tarmac, including the driveway. The house was beautiful, yellow bricked with a lovely colonnaded porch. It faced north. The surrounding beds were raised using 500 x200x100mm old granite kerbs. There was a mature Photinia ‘Red Robin’ hedge on the East side with boundary wall and struggling plants on the West side, the South bed included standard privet lollipops, with the bed in front of the house housing various mature specimens. There was a slight fall towards the house. I tested a section of the tarmac and it came away easily. The post and rail fence on the entrance side was rotten an in need of replacing. There was an existing outdoor socket and drain to the left pf the porch. The driveway felt like an extension of the outside complex, the contract was really attractive due to its potential.
I surveyed the area, took photos and sat down with the clients to create the following brief:
- Double cobble surround
- Re-use old kerbs
- Use gravel core matting system
- Garden lighting
- Replace rotten fence at entrance
- Ballylusk gravel to match in with yellow brick, brighten up the whole area
- Re-do planting
- Cobble apron at entrance and pedestrian gate
- Silver granite to match kerbs
- Low maintenance
- All year round interest
The design I came up with was similar to the original outlay and included everything in the brief. The backbone of the design was the double cobble surround which connected all the individual components including the large cobble driveway entrance, the cobble apron leading onto road, the 600x300x30mm silver granite paved area outside the front door and along the front of the house. The surround also created great definition within the space. The only difficulty were the falls, which all led towards the house and how to control water run-off. The gravel core matting would take care of this by slowing the water, but just in case, raised edging was not included in beds by house allowing water run-off to escape into beds. ACO drains were also included for possible over flows from the adjacent road, which lead to existing drain mentioned previously.
Unwanted plants were removed. The kerbing was taken out and stored. Some of the kerbs were stained with tar, these were cleaned with white spirits, then steam cleaned. The removal of tarmac did not go according to plan, it turned out to be 3 layers rather than 1, increasing labour cost and removal. Cabling for garden lighting was installed leading back to outdoor socket. Quarry dust was then spread and compacted over whole area to make levels. The double cobble surround was then installed, with cobble aprons, granite paving and kerbs following. Next more quarry dust, levels finishing 50mm below the cobble surround. The gravel core matting system was then installed and interlocked, using 10mm Ballylusk gravel to hold mats down as we went. The whole area was then finished with 10mm Ballylusk gravel.
This is a fantastic system which reduces water runoff. Each matt is made up of hundreds of hexagonal pockets, these pockets hold the water, allowing for percolation into sub-base. The system is very steady underfoot reducing ridging by car tyres when driven on.
The low voltage garden lighting system included 2 recessed uplighters installed within paving outside front door, glazing the two columns, 8 stainless steel spike lights were strategically placed within planting beds. The post and rail fencing was removed and replaced with pressure treated planed Scandinavian Spruce fence like original and then painted with 2 coats Ronseal ‘Willow’.
The following is a breakdown of work carried out to complete project:
- Breakout existing tarmac driveway to a dept of 100-150mm, cart to dump
- Fill beds with screened topsoil
- Supply and law cable for Low Voltage Garden Lighting System
- Supply, spread and compact 50mm layer of quarry screened dust
- Remove & clean existing granite kerbs
- Re-lay granite kerbs
- Supply and install 600x300x30mm brush hammered silver granite paving at edge of new bed, in apron for entrance to back garden and entrance at front door, use cobbles at entrance to driveway and gate to main road
- Supply and install ACO drain in front of paving by front door, connect to gully right of door
- Supply and install double silver granite cobble surround
- Supply and lay core gravel matting system
- Supply, spread and finish driveway using 10mm Ballylusk gravel
- Plant bed with Buxus hedge and cones, including two cones in planters to frame front door
- Supply and install Low Voltage Garden Lighting System, including 60 Watt transformer, Dusk till dawn sensor/timer, 2 Recessed lights 8 stainless steel uplighters
- Replace rotten, same style, using 150x25mm boards and 100x75mm posts, using planed pressure treated Scandinavian Spruce
- Paint new fence with two coats ‘Ronseal Willow’
- Remove all rubbish, cart to dump
The planting included Buxus hedging, Buxus cones in beds and planters. Hardy shrubs planted in groups of 3, creating all year round interest. Allium bulbs were also included behind Buxus hedge within bed bordering front of house.
The client was very impressed with the final outcome, kindly posting the following review on Google.
“Kevin has transformed our front garden. His elegant design complements and greatly enhances our house. From concept to completion, Kevin and his team have been a pleasure to deal with. He is proactive in proposing ideas and is open in his engagement, interaction and dialogue around alternative solutions. Kevin takes great pride in his work and is constantly striving for perfection. His ability and attention to detail manifest in the excellent quality of the work. Kevin and Ian make a great team and complete the task on time to the highest standard. I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Kevin”.