Wealden Landscape Designs - Experts in Landscape Garden Design, Garden Construction and Garden Maintenance Services

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"...absolutely fabulous"
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Wealden Landscape Designs - Experts in Landscape Garden Design, Garden Construction and Garden Maintenance Services

See other recent large scale projects

 

Wealden Landscape Designs - Our Latest Large-Scale Project

It was rather gratifying to discover that our clients had carried out a considerable amount of homework on our company before we had even met and therefore they already knew quite a bit about our work. Quite naturally they needed to feel comfortable that we could handle the project given the enormous scale and budget they proposed. The house itself occupies a picturesque, sloping plot of some 4 acres (we do seem to attract the projects with steep gradients) and is situated within the beautiful countryside between Sevenoaks and Tonbridge. From a design perspective, a wonderful piece of canvas to work with.

 

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

We first meet with our clients in early June when they are still in the process of purchasing the property.

Completion of the move is scheduled for late August.

Ideal for us since this allows the best part of 3 months to carry out the design work.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Unusually (in our experience) our clients have very clear views on what they would like.

They are keen to stress the importance of eco-friendliness in the design expressing particular concern for generating a natural wildlife habitat.

Water re-cycling for irrigation purposes is a must also.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Given the scale of the site the existing terracing is really inadequate in size and the views down to the lake are obscured by trees and overgrown plants.

Substantial new terracing particularly to the front of the pool house is a key requirement as is a heated Koi Carp pond.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

In addition we are required to remove the existing trees (leylandii and willows) and plants seen here around the pool house.

We also need to remove the existing rockery style pond which acts as a turning circle but also obscures the general view from the house.

Our client also requires a new driveway with a formal entrance gate and a remote controlled video entrance system.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The existing grass meadow is in a poor unkempt state and densely weeded.

We suggest creating a wild flower meadow which is well received.

In addition some level lawned areas are required for our client’s housekeeper’s young son to play on.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Amongst the key criteria is the rejuvenation of the existing but heavily overgrown stream fed lake.

Our clients want the lake to become properly “reflective” and a key feature yet currently the lake is practically invisible due to the dense woodland which surrounds it.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

It is clear that the work required on the lake and woodland is a significant project by itself.

We will have to clear an enormous number of trees from around the lake as well as the islands on it.

Our final proposal will include a woodland walk with seating points around the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Clearly the existing bridging will have to be upgraded especially with young children around!

Our aim is to create an oak board walk over one corner of the lake which will marry in to our proposed “goldpath” woodland walk.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With a new pool house and office building also planned it is essential to maintain access to the top of the plot.

We have therefore built a temporary road around the back of the house to allow us to work unhindered to the front.

This will be returned to lawn at the end of the project.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Utilising a 13 tonne and a 5 tonne digger we start clearing a route around the lake.

This will later be finished with a “goldpath” self binding gravel walkway and planted either side with native woodland plants such as bluebells.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

As well as clearing the woodland area we begin to remove the topsoil from the existing meadow and stockpile it for use elsewhere.

Topsoil is far too rich in nutrients for a wild flower meadow to develop as the grasses will tend to dominate the mix.

We will use the exposed subsoil to grow the wild flower meadow instead.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

To ensure the best blend of wild flower seed for the meadow one of our RHS qualified horticulturalists takes a number of soil samples which are sent away for a detailed analysis.

From the results we are able to identify the most appropriate species for planting.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here Leighton is seen doing a spot of pleasure boating!

Seriously though, with the access now cleared around the lake we are able to get onto the water to finish the tidy up.

However we encounter our first major problem. There is only 2 feet (60 cm) depth of water across the whole lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Upon further investigation we find that approximately 6 feet (1.8 m) of silt had built up over the years, mainly from leaf fall.

At the current rate of silting the lake will be dry within a few more years.

As a result our clients have asked us to de-silt the lake which is itself, a massive undertaking.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

We decide to create a “holding reservoir” for the existing fish by damming off a quarter of the lake using clay from around the site.

By first clearing the silt from this area there should be sufficient space to store the water from the rest of the lake later.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

To make the task slightly easier we bridge across to one of the islands from two points on the bank.

A small digger is to track the bridge across in what is a delicate operation.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Nearly there!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Whilst we construct the dam it is good to know that the clearance work is practically complete.

The whole area has been opened up and there is a much better feeling of light.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here is the view taken from the top near the proposed site of the new office building.

Much of the woodland had been cleared with the lake now revealed as is the pasture behind.

Our clients can at last appreciate the reflective qualities of the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

We always find nosey neighbours interested in what is going on!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

In the meantime we remove the 20 odd “dreaded” and massive Leylandii trees seen earlier behind the pool house.

To the other side of the Leylandii we find a line of native trees which will now have the light they need to flourish.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Bricks and blocks start arriving for the walls.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With work continuing on the lake we also begin the footings for the Ha-Ha wall.

Designed to be invisible from the house a Ha-Ha traditionally consisted of a sunken wall made level with the garden. A ditch would then run along the far side to provide an effective barrier to livestock.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here we aim to create a level lawned area to the front of the house simply retained by the Ha-Ha.

Instead of a ditch we intend to incorporate a segment of our circulating stream “water feature” which will then meander its way down to the lake.

The re-enforcement bars seen here are put into the concrete before it is set to provide extra strength to help retain the weight of soil behind.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

When working with heights and gradients a laser level is invaluable for getting levels correct.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With both dams complete to the island work begins on pumping out the water from the holding reservoir into the main part of the lake.

Once the silt has been removed from the holding reservoir it should be able to hold the entire volume of water existing in the main part (assuming our sums are right!)

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The big issue though is what to do with over 3000 tonnes of near liquid silt.

Due to the prohibitive cost of transporting it away as waste we create a large bunded area to store the silt and dry it.

It will take several months to dry out properly but when it does it will become a rich topsoil which we will redistribute around the site.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

As the water is drained down the fish left in the holding reservoir are quickly netted and transferred to the main lake.

Here is a lovely conditioned common carp.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With the water drained and the fish removed we are left with a very deep layer of silt, lovely!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Using the large bucket the silt is scooped out of the lake and loaded into a dumper for transfer to the bunded storage area.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

While this is going on work is started on a 35 metre deep bore hole to provide backup water for our irrigation system.

You are permitted to abstract 20,000 litres of water per day from a bore hole without needing a licence.

Over time this can result in a cost saving especially if you are metered for water but it really comes into its own during hosepipe bans.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

As the silt is removed from the edge of the lake it is possible to get a small digger onto the lake bed.

The digger is used to push the remaining silt across the lake to where it is more easily extracted by a large digger.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here you can see how liquid the silt is as it is poured into the bunded storage area.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With the silt emptied completely the holding reservoir is filled once more from the main lake.

Now we can move on and repeat the process for the main part of the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here we can see the main lake after it has been pumped out.

In all, well over 300 common carp, mirror carp and roach are netted and put into the holding reservoir.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The Ha-Ha wall is well under way with a facing of brick interspersed with Kentish Ragstone for decorative effect.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

It is necessary to divert the main drains to the house.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The Ha-Ha wall will be backed with a waterproof membrane and then back filled first with pea gravel and then soil.

This is to ensure adequate drainage is achieved.

Copper tube lined weep holes at the bottom of the wall will carry rainwater into the stream in front and down to the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Well the maths worked out perfectly.

The bunded silt storage area has consumed every last drop – just!

With the consistency of “Texas Tea” it’s not something you would fancy falling into though.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The main part of the lake is now being gradually re-filled.

When the water both sides of the dams reaches the same level then the dams can safely be removed.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Working close to the house the level is reduced down.

The Koi pond will be constructed here and to the side.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

These large concrete rings are required to create the sump which will house the water pump down by the lake.

A large and powerful bespoke pump is required to pump the water from the lake all the way to the top of the stream some 13 metres higher up.

To minimise frictional pressure loss a large 100mm diameter high pressure water pipe is used.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here Sarah and Matt J can be seen planting some of the 10,000 native bluebell bulbs required to create the feature bluebell wood by the lake.

The planting is supplemented with a large quantity of ransoms (wild garlic) and wood anemones.

Hopefully we will get a reasonable showing this coming spring but the following year should be a picture.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here the footings are going in for the main steps, retaining wall and planters.

Again steel re-enforcement is required for strength.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

After heavy rain, a concrete mixer manages to make its way up the steep 50 metre drive but just fails to make the last few metres through lack of traction.

The versatile 13 tonne digger however is on hand to negotiate the last few paces to the footings.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With the footings complete we are able to start getting the brickwork in place for the main steps.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The top coarse of bricks are now put in place to complete the Ha-Ha wall.

The block work you can see will eventually be below soil level.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With the re-enforcement steels in for the rear retaining wall a few final measurements are taken with the laser to ensure that everything is at the correct height.

With measurements complete work can start on the wall.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The main steps and planters either side are near completion.

The steps are back filled with concrete ready for the pavers which be laid a little later in the process.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The back filling behind the Ha-Ha wall nears completion.

This level area will eventually become the main formal lawn to the front of the house overlooking the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The sub-base for the “gold path” walk way is now laid around the lake.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The sub-base is completed right around the lake with a loop taken through the woodland.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With hardly a moment to spare the excavation of the Koi Carp pond is completed and the re-enforcing concrete and steels are laid in place.

Then suddenly bang! – torrential rainfall followed by a deep freeze and heavy snow.

Landscaping is never easy in the UK and it’s no wonder that the majority of the team prefer the Cypriot projects this time of year!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Okay work may be a bit difficult now but everything is undeniably beautiful in the snow.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

We all love to see snow but let’s be honest, enough is enough, we have a business to run after all.

Please melt!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Hurrah!

With the snow now gone (thankfully) we got on with the demolition of the old pool house.

However that is one heck of a big hole to fill now.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Time now to get on with the woodland and lakeside planting.

However, because of the huge number of large carp that forage in the lake, planting lilies without protection is simply a big no - no.

The carp will continually disturb the lily rhizomes as they dig for food so preventing their establishment.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

To overcome this we install several 2 metre deep circular cages in the lake in which we plant the lilies.

The water level can now be raised to just cover the top of the cages.

The smaller island and far bank is planted with Gunnera Manicata then covered with fleece for frost protection. This will provide great drama throughout spring and summer.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The Koi Pond is well underway now with the outside wall in place.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The first of several bench seating areas are put in place around the lake path.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Another is put in place to overlook the beach area.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

There’s a lot going on here but the steps to the main entertainment terrace start taking shape.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The pavers for the Koi Pond terrace “island” are starting to be laid.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The lake walkway nears completion as the gold path is finally laid to provide a striking visual contrast.

However grass and wild flowers will be allowed to grow into the path in order to naturalise this feature more.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The blue bells are starting to come through already and they look really healthy in their first year.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The better weather has allowed the silt from the lake to dry sufficiently for it to be spread out.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Meanwhile excavation of the pool pump house continues unabated.

Boy is that a deep hole!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The Koi Pond and terracing are definitely starting to take shape now.

The topsoil has now been distributed across what will be the main front lawn area.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

With the good weather we are able to lay the turf.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The contrast of the new green sward against the brick and rock walls provide a stunning contrast.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The base for the pool house pumping equipment is laid out.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The “subterranean” pool plant room is starting to come together.

Who’s idea was it to set it below ground level??

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The steps from the Koi Pond to the main entertainment terrace near completion.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Following Environmental Agency guidelines the natural rear stream is redirected and shaped to avoid the occasional flooding of the neighbouring land.

Planting of natural species is complete on the far bank.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Our efforts are now focussed on completing the bespoke third party designed pool and pool house.

As you can see the foundations have been dug.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

And there’s a lot more!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Ah! We just love the smell of liquid concrete in the morning.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The shuttered foundations.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The steel work is erected as the pool house starts to take shape.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The re-enforcement steel mesh is put in place for the pool prior to casting.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here you can see the finished third party cast swimming pool.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The internal dividing wall between the pool room and conservatory goes up.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Work can now begin on the side pillars.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Matt C loves a bit of rock work (and there’s a lot of it).

As an aside I wonder why everyone in our company appears to be called Matt?

We’ve got four of them – Matt C, Matt P, Matt J and Matt G. Thank heavens for Max F!

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The rock work pillars start to come together.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

The conservatory end of the pool house nears completion.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Here you can get a strong idea of how the completed pool house will look.

Our Latest Large-Scale Project

Just for good measure a bespoke complementary greenhouse is erected beside what will be the vegetable area.

To be continued soon..........

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