At TDGD we want to ensure that while we create beautiful and practical gardens for our clients, at the same time we don’t do harm to the planet.
This means thinking carefully about what is on site that can be reused or repurposed, as well as what we bring to the site.
PLANTING IN RUBBLE
Quite often we are asked to design gardens where the client is extending the house or knocking down an old house to build a new one or converting old farm buildings into a new build house. In these situations, a lot of waste is created from knocking down walls or taking up concrete. Rather than taking this off site, at vast expense, we aim to reuse this on site if we can.
Where levels need to be retained, we are designing retaining walls using gabions filled with the rubble from the site and faced with a local stone. Gabions have the advantage of creating wonderful invertebrate habitat.
SUBSTRATES FOR PATHS & PLANTING
Crushed brick and concrete can also be used for paths, where an informal loose shingle is required, or even turned into a low fertility planting substrate for drought resistant plants and to discourage weed germination. This is an emerging area of research in the horticultural world with wonderful trials being carried out at Knepp Castle and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens.
If we need to clear branches or shrubs, these can be put to good use in a dead hedge which provide good screening but more importantly wonderful habitat for invertebrates, small mammals and nesting birds. Climbers can also be grown over them.
COMPOST HEAPS & IMPROVING SOILS
We try and build compost heaps in our gardens for our clients and their gardeners to use for kitchen scraps and in garden maintenance. The compost is then put back on the garden when it rots down, rather than green waste being taken off site.
When looking at paving materials and timber for structures, we check with our suppliers to find out where they are from and that they have been ethically sourced. If we can, we source as locally as possible, and certainly we try and source heavy materials from the UK to reduce the carbon footprint. All timber must of course meet Forest Stewardship Council requirements.
All our plants are chosen specifically for the garden according to aspect,soil and the style of planting that you want to achieve.
TDGD has experience of designing, planting and growing the hot, dry climates in Western Australia and Cape Town. The plant palette that we use at TDGD takes into account the fact that climates in the UK are changing, with higher summer temperatures and sometimes with heavier bursts of rainfall. Green roofs help keep buildings cooler, provide additional habitat and absorb more water than bare roofs.
Water is a precious resource and rainwater harvesting in tanks and water buts, rain planters, rain chains, rain gardens, ponds to collect runoff, swales and berms will be considered where appropriate.
Rain gardens are fantastic for biodiversity providing insect habitat and nectar. Rain gardens also improve mycorrhizal fungi in soils, creating healthier soils, increasing numbers of soil organisms while at the same time becoming better at storing water and sequestering carbon.
Our planting supports biodiversity in many ways.
Native hedges and trees are fantastic for habitat and forage. We look at creating green corridors, linking gardens or woodland beside gardens that help bats navigate at night and provide nesting and food for birds and small mammals.
Meadows, created from plastic free meadow turf or by seeding or by adding plug plants to grassland areas that are left to grow longer is a great way of increasing habitat. By introducing species that extend the season, such as American prairie plants, both colour and the pollination season are extended. We have experience of trying to create a meadow on clay, laying meadow turf of different types in different places and sowing from seed and have attended workshops on meadow making.
Layered planting in the garden, in naturalistic planting design, creates multiple layers from below the soil using bulbs, covers the ground layer with ground covers and builds up layer upon layer of plant material above the ground, often using a mix of perennials, grasses and evergreens to create a tapestry of planting that is great for biodiversity both in the flora and pollinators.
LISTENING TO THE LAND
We also use our intuition – we look at the garden, the land it sits in, the surroundings, the topography and the buildings and we try to feel what it would be like to use this garden. We garden with the existing landscape, working with it to create something that belongs.