Sometimes I feel people in Buckinghamshire are a little constrained in choice when it comes to choosing a driveway material and landscape scheme. Front gardens and driveways are the first impression of our much loved homes staging the entrance to our personal living space.
For the 30 years block paving has pretty much been the material of choice and I have to admit it does have some good qualities. I have said before the biggest problem with block paving is in time sunlight bleaches the surface and fades the dyes within the blocks. This is why I have always favoured the tegula cobble effect block paving as its grey tones very rarely fade. It also has a traditional feel in keeping with most Buckinghamshire housing styles modern and old.
But what are the alternatives to the traditional block paving in today’s market in Buckinghamshire and the South East?
Resin Bound Aggregate.
Resin bound aggregates did give a glimmer of hope for a revolution for the typical driveway in Britain. This smooth textured gravel surface looks good and is permeable slowing storm water runoff. This gave it both aesthetic and ecological attributes but as years have progressed still resin bound aggregate only has clad a hand full of driveways across the UK.
There is a few reasons for this. Having laid resin bound aggregates for numerous contractors and priced up many projects for resin bound it is always the same story. In order to base the underlying ground for maximum rigidity as to prevent cracking certain procedures need to be exercised.
To realise a truly ecological permeable solution a special type of free draining mot type one must be used as a base material. Then an ‘open textured’ tarmac must be spread to the surface leaving a 15-20 mm depth for the resin bound aggregate. The idea that tarmac is ecological in any sense in my view is false especially in a way that allows water to past through it into the underground aquifer.
The other option is reinforced concrete using a 6 inch slab again very non ecological and non permeable. The other problem with this is cost. All of the systems mentioned above for a robust installation that prevents cracking is extremely costly rendering it completely unviable for most people. Resin bound aggregate can crack if not based properly and also can get very dirty very quickly with its open textured surface a magnet for muddy shoes and loose materials.
I remember my best friends crazy paving driveway which was laid in the 70’s to this day it looks perfect when pressure washed like the day it was laid. This particular driveway was laid on top of a solid slab of concrete at least 5 inches thick. Each slab was laid on a solid mortar bed without any dobbing.
This robust labour intensive method of driveway construction is the only way to realise a paved driveway with materials such as slate and Indian sandstone. I personally think these make great driveways but they lack ecological attributes and there is the issue of drainage not in keeping with Buckinghamshire’s drainage policy. In my personal view the only way to have an ecological, permeable driveway or front garden is loose gravel full stop! The problem with modern sustainable urban drainage policies is they do not deal with the UK’s flooding problems.
I have visited many gardens around Buckinghamshire which are literally under water as all water runoff is channelled back into the ground at source. This means modern developments are riddled with underground voids full with water. In my opinion this potentially creates instability in surrounding ground as the seasonal flooding and drying of soakaways causes varying pressure under ground. The main reason most of these drainage strategies came into place was because of flash flooding and the drying of urban subsoil leading to shrinkage, cracking and subsidence. Today I believe we have the opposite problem with excessive ground saturation which also can lead to movement and property subsidence.
In my opinion sustainable drainage policy should focus on wild saturated landscapes such as the London wetland centre giving seasonal flooding habitats for local people to enjoy. Water should permeate back into the landscape not at source but via local wetlands designed within the landscape.
I personally feel there is a place for paving on Britain’s driveways materials such as slate and Indian sandstone are in my opinion far superior in look and longevity to block paving. The example here shows a slate driveway with the drainage gully leading to an underground soakaway.
I personally think there should be more options for Buckinghamshire’s driveways and front garden landscaping. With a reviewed drainage policy and more wetland habitat creation our modern landscapes can become more aesthetic and bio diverse at the same time.
When deciding a material for your new driveway we advise you contact the local council for their guidelines. Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners can advise you on your options and what driveway or paving design would look best for your property.
Please contact us for more information. Or visit our paving or driveway page.
One of the few simple pleasures in life is to produce your own food by growing it from seed. In recent years many scandals such as the horse meat scandal has raised concerns about the source of our food. It has been speculated over the years that food produced with additives to prolong shelf life may be good for corporate supermarkets profits but are certainly no good for taste or health. Many speculators have suggested that herbicides and pesticide residues in our food may have links to the onset of cancers and other serious diseases.
It comes to a shock to many people that much of our food is grown using oil based fertilisers derived from fossil fuels. Most of the media always focus on the advances in sustainable energies such as wind and solar but the most sizable threat to the human race is food. When oil depletion occurs no amount of sustainable technologies will be able to replace synthetic oil based fertilisers. Ecospaces does a very good job of explaining this in this article.
So what is the solution? Well the truth is our centralised nucleated densities typical of modern human settlements may need a rethink. Since the industrial revolution, populations have seen a huge shift from dispersed throughout the countryside into cities. In order for future populations to feed themselves there will need to be a re-ruralisation of the population. Skilled farmers and vegetable growers will have to work the land and produce local produce once more.
But does this mean the human race going backwards? Well only if you consider; great health, strong family ties, happier people and almost no cases of cancer or dementia. Bold claims? Well this is exactly the reality of the peasant farmers of countries like Crete experience. In the 1960’s It was recognised that the village people of Crete had the longest life expectancy, happiest lives and had hardly any instances of cancer, cardiovascular disease or dementia. One of the main reasons for this was their local freshly grown and foraged diet. Vigorous physical activity in the form of landscaping and raising animals also meant fitter people. You can find a great article on the diet of the village people of Crete here. This way of eating or ‘lifestyle’ helped commercialised the now famous Mediterranean diet.
One of the most defining factors of this diet is its high percentage of fruit and vegetables. More importantly home grown fruit and vegetables! No pesticides, no genetic manipulation just fresh tasty produce metres from your kitchen door! But how do the great people of Britain and Buckinghamshire locally start growing food if they have limited time or no experience?
At Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners we propose two main options; Perennial fruit and vegetables and raised vegetable planters.
Perennial vegetables are vegetables that once planted produce year after year! Some of these include Rhubarb, Asparagus, and Artichoke. Orchard trees and shrubs such as gooseberries and apples can also give you a low input form of food production. For more information on this The Urban Farmer website has some good resources on this subject. The second way to grow more conventional annual crops such as lettuce, cabbage and potatoes with ease is raised sleeper beds. The height of the beds mean they are easy to work and being filled with good humus rich soil means large strong tasty produce all year. View some examples of our raised vegetable growing beds below.
Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners are experts in fruit and vegetable gardening and how it can be incorporated into your garden. If you would like more information on this or a quotation contact us via the button below.
Check out our latest modern landscaped garden in Aylesbury.
One of the biggest fundamental narratives in garden design for suburban gardens is the transitional fluidity of space from the house into the outside living space. No more is this concept more important than in Abigail's garden in Aylesbury.
The garden used to be completely overgrown they had actually never been to the rear fence! We soon ground out all of the wilderness to get the garden to a clean sheet once again. The design was a simple concept of a limestone patio with easy to maintain lawn. See what you think! Oh and make sure you watch the video we now create videos for all our landscaping projects.
Make sure you check out our video of the garden landscaping transformation from start to finish and a link to a great book about modern garden design below:
Check out our latest project a basic brindle block paving driveway in High Wycombe. In recent years it seems there has become quite a negative attitude towards this staple method of paving our driveways. The thing is there is no real alternative yet that has come along to take its place. However there is a very good reason why our old friend the block paver has lasted the test of time for Buckinghamshire and Britain's driveways as a whole.
The first thing is it makes use of flexible paving methods meaning the compacted sharp sand layer allows for very small moment and give which would crack mortar based paving or crazy paving. The block pavers can take the weight of a car and spread it evenly along the sand bonded surface.
Even though block paving is made with concrete aggregates and colour dyes it does have some eco friendly credentials. The small gaps in the block surface let some rain water run off drain back into the ground reducing storm water run off and clay shrinkage.
Over all you can't deny traditional block paving still have its place in our modern landscaping and driveways. It looks good, is affordable and has some ecological credentials also.
If you are interested in a new driveway or creating a new landscaping scheme contact Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners today.
Most of the time it is hard to explain to potential new clients that if you have a very low budget labour costs can make hiring professional landscapers and garden builders a non starter.
But when Mr & Mrs Horley from Great Missenden called us with a vision and plan of what they wanted we arranged a consultation.
Their vision was to create a garden completely from waste including old wooden pallets and broken stone into a modern but quirky eco / wildlife garden. The only real materials bought was concrete for the path way and some native and ecological planting. The design was put together buy Sustainable & Ecological landscape company Ecospaces.
The original concept was to create a journey to the long narrow plot which meanders through various habitats and wildlife features. Even though the materials budget for the project was £1000 pounds the finished product is nothing less than remarkable! Wildlife and eco gardens are not always every ones ideal garden with a conception that they look untidy but designed and built correctly great landscaped gardens suitable for wildlife are achievable!
Some images of the completed project can be found below!
Some of the new wildlife to the garden recorded have been: Hedgehogs, Frogs, Newts, Foxes, Dormice, Dragonflies, Great Stag Beatle, Woodpeckers, Squirrels, Blue Tits and Sparrows!
If you have a garden project that needs building or help with a design whether a wildlife garden or new patio please do not hesitate to call Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners today.
New landscaped garden in Amersham including a new lawn with mowing edge. Video from start to finish!
Check out our video below of our new landscaped garden in Amersham, Buckinghamshire including paving and a new garden lawn!
A very common theme in landscaping projects is the need to tackle all your gardens issues at once instead of in stages. It is tempting to do things in small sections to try to mitigate cost and effort but usually with landscapes and landscapes everything is interrelated.
When Ann from High Wycombe called Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners earlier in the year due to a soggy lawn she knew she wanted the perfect lawn but also a new pathway and steps. Quite quickly we realised the reason her lawn was so boggy was a funnel effect from the surrounding higher gardens. We decided to tackle all the drainage and landscaping issues all at once by installing a new drainage cage soak away with an outlet to a drainage grate along the house to solve her rising damp problem in the house.
The new drainage cage is assisted by a new lawn with a free draining sharp sand layer under the topsoil to allow water to drain to the system effectively. The new lawn now retains moisture to grow well but does not allow excess water to sit on the surface reducing muddiness and the onset of mosses.
The drainage system has an overflow outlet under a new Ashdown brick path with basket weave bond pattern for a very effective route through the garden with a high grip in wet weather. The overflow is plumbed into the storm water drain but is doubted it will ever need to as the drainage cage holds a cubic metre of storm water. The new drainage grate along the house prevents storm water from causing damp in the houses structure through the external walls a true example of how landscaping can benefit most aspects of a properties longevity and functions.
As usual with most garden landscaping solutions are found by assessing the garden holistically with drainage, hard surfaces, soft landscaping, topography and soil type all contributing to various landscape and building factors. If you are planning anew landscaping project and are based in Buckinghamshire including High Wycombe, Aylesbury or Amersham do not hesitate to contact Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners today.
New Landscaped Front Garden Tegula, block paving front driveway, Construction process video, Denham, South Buckinghamshire.
Please check out our video of the construction process of this new driveway in South Buckinghamshire. If you need any landscape construction, garden building, patio laying, driveways, planting or brick work please do not hesitate to contact Buckinghamshire landscape gardeners today.
Check out our new landscaping scheme in High Wycombe. Here we have used Brazilian Black Slate to create box steps which used to be a compacted mass of gravel used as a driveway. Our company, Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners
undertakes all types of landscaping including driveways, patios and planting schemes.
Sometimes its hard work trying to formulate a garden design proposal that caters for all the members of the family.
It is fair to say a garden lawn always has its part especially when the homeowner has young children. Not only does lawn have practical uses a nice lawn is ingrained in the British conscious with it also being a safe bet for resale. But with such a dominant expansive landscape feature how do you integrate a more varied interesting garden landscaping scheme.
In this garden design for our clients in High Wycombe a lawn was important but I really pushed to meet the extra expectations of the clients including edible planting, a modern outside room with fire pit, woodland wildlife play area, screening, a garden kitchen and a garden gym with nature roof. I designed in a circulatory pathway which the children could use for bikes and buggies to create a journey. The path links the various landscape elements allowing for nature discovery, vibrant planting and interacting with the outside world.
Please stay tuned for the construction of the garden in April we will be filming a video during the process for you to view viewing our video blog.
If you are interested in our landscape services be it a design or just need a general landscape gardener please do not hesitate to contact Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners via our contact page.