Whether you’re responsible for redeveloping a single property or a major residential or commercial development or redevelopment project, getting the landscaping right is key to the overall success. When designing external space, consideration should be given to both form and function. Attractive gardens and imaginative planting may look great, but if paths are unlit, seating areas inaccessible or trees block light from buildings, then the landscaping is unsuccessful. This is where experienced landscape contractors and designers come in.
Working with a professional landscape company, who understands the importance both of working in collaboration with architects and of understanding the needs of end users of the outdoor space is essential in ensuring that the final product is fit for purpose.
Whether working from a design provided by a landscape architect or taking responsibility for the entire project from design to completion, selecting a landscaping contractor who can provide the majority, if not all, of the work required to deliver the landscape design will also help to ensure that your project runs smoothly.
You should also employ a landscape gardener who fully understands the ways in which the use of trees can add particular value to your development, and how they may even help you acquire planning permission.
Why it’s important
Creative and attractive landscape design confers a number of benefits on a development, some more tangible than others.
Landscaping is primarily about the look of a development. Whether it’s softening the ‘harder’ edges of a building or providing an attractive space for users to relax, the most immediate benefit of a great landscape design is visual. An imaginative landscape design will enhance any development, as will making sure that the commercial landscaper you use fully realises all elements of that design.
We hear a lot about ‘kerb appeal’ when talking about private residential sales, but the idea that improving the look of a property can increase its financial value can also be applied to commercial developments. Whether you are planning a housing development or an office complex, great-looking outdoor spaces are bound to attract more interest than a development where little thought has been given to the landscaping. It therefore makes sense from a commercial viewpoint to give the green spaces of your property development project as much consideration as other aspects.
With the significance of the concept of biodiversity net gain in gaining planning permissions. While the Environment Bill 2019 failed to make it through parliament due to the calling of the General Election, there is no reason to believe that the new legislation won’t also contain the requirement for developers to demonstrate biodiversity net gain of 10% in order for projects to pass through the planning system. It’s therefore more important than ever that when considering a landscape design you also take into account the environmental impact as well as how the design looks.
This is a less tangible benefit than some of the others, but there is significant evidence that providing residents or employees with good outdoor space can contribute to their mental or physical wellbeing. In particular integrating relaxed sitting areas into office development help employees feel more valued and less stressed. When you are looking to attract businesses to take up space in your development this may give you the edge over others.
You can also help to improve the safety of users or tenants through the appropriate use of lighting, as well as potentially decreasing anti-social behaviour by including play areas or eliminating secluded dark areas.
The Role of Trees
Trees are big news. In the December 2019 General Election all the major political parties made commitments on tree planting, with promises ranging from the planting of between 30 million and 100 million trees per year. Including trees in your landscape design can provide quick wins both in enhancing the appearance of the development and improving biodiversity, but it’s important that the trees are selected carefully with your particular goals in mind.
While the of trees in carbon offsetting is fairly well-established, in terms of biodiversity more thought should be given than merely ‘planting some trees’. Native species will support a much greater number and wider range of wildlife than introduced species and so you should consider this when deciding which types of trees to plant.
Trees can also provide other benefits. For example, carefully sited trees can help to either allow winter sun into buildings and reduce heating costs or provide cover from hot summer sun, reducing the use of air-conditioning. Thinking about where trees are planted will also reduce the risk of creating dark, isolated areas within the development, or they can be used to deliberately screen sitting areas to provide a quiet, meditative space.
Finally, trees look amazing and with care will continue to do so well into the life of your development. You may well find that many prospective clients expect to see at least some trees included in a development, and will consider those with limited trees as part of the design to appear quite bare.
The Problem with Trees
Having acknowledged the benefits of including trees within the landscaping of a development project it’s important to also recognise the possible challenges.
Initially you will be largely concerned with young trees establishing themselves, although most thrive with little need for external interference, particularly if they have been correctly sited in the first place. It is usually only necessary to ensure that they are supported where necessary, and protected from the possibility of damage.
Once trees are established, they will require more specialist care. This is when it will advantageous to find a local tree surgeon like Kings, who cover the whole South East from small residential tree work to large scale commercial services. Although you may find that you’ll have to look a little further afield to find a tree surgeon with the requisite skills and experience to provide services to a larger development in some areas.
Employing a commercial tree surgeon with experience of larger projects will ensure that your trees stay healthy. In addition they will help guard against trees posing a danger or an obstruction, both of which you may be liable for.
For continuity of service it is always worth employing a commercial landscaping contractor who can also offer maintenance and tree surgery services. That way you will benefit from a coherent end-to-end service from a company who fully understands the vision of your development.