Here we have documented all of our standard procedures for our work. This is to ensure you as the customer know what to expect and if there is something you either want us to do differently or cannot see here you can specify that when you place an order.
All designs are hand-drawn, most commonly at 1:100 scale. We charge between £50-500 for designs depending on the size of the garden and any other required services, such as drain inspection and drainage solutions, level surveys, test digs or planning consent advice or applications. In most cases, the design fee is refunded if you continue to use Beautiful Gardens to carry out the work.
Soak-away’s have been revolutionised with the introduction of Aquacell units. These are strengthened plastic cells (1mx0.5mx0.4m) with a 95% void capacity (holds 190 litres of water). In short, one cell holds the equivalent of a 1.5mx1mx1m traditional gravel-filled soak-away. So there is consequently less to remove and dispose of and less to fill-in. They are installed by digging an appropriate-sized hole, wrapping the unit in membrane to avoid ‘silting’, inserting the unit into the hole, plumbing in pipes and back-filling. These can be used under driveways as they have a vertical load capacity of 17.5 tons/m2.
Covers come as either standard plastic, aluminium or steel lids or as recessed ‘trays’. These units allow block pavers, slabs, etc. to be cut into the lid to provide a seamless finish. Usually the 4 corners of the lid have holes where lifting keys can be inserted to raise the lid when necessary. Existing chambers may need to be cut down or new collars fitted to adjust heights and then both frame and surround are concreted-in.
Where provision of drainage is required, we mostly use Aco channel drains. These are either made of a resin polymer with a galvanised silver grate or from black moulded plastic. Both are laid on a bed of wet mortar and piped into either existing drains or into a new soak-away (where necessary)
These are mostly self-contained, comprising of a sump, pump and decorative feature. A qualified electrician must make all electrical connections and should certify their work. Water-falls, streams and rills can also be installed. Butyl liner is always recommended, but there are a large number of liners with 25-year guarantees that are mostly suitable. All liners are laid on either a specific underlay fabric, or a bed of building sand.
Preparation is crucial for turfing and in this respect, every garden is slightly different depending on soil type, drainage etc. Where we take up an existing lawn, it should be noted that perennial weeds such as dandelions are likely to re-emerge through the new turf. It is recommended that a ‘lawn doctor’ is used for the first year to eliminate these weeds and to feed the lawn. We often import 2-inches of screened top soil into the garden, rake, compact and level. New turf can then be laid on the final raked surface.
Fabric sails are weather-proof and allow areas to be sheltered from the sun. Metal or wooden posts are concreted-into position with the sail suspended and tensioned between the posts. Sails come in a large variety of colours, sizes and shapes and can be installed accordingly.
To create an effective rockery, large limestone or sandstone rocks are usually used. These are built up in horizontal layers to emulate naturally occurring rocks. They are best planted with small perennials, grasses and alpines.
Ponds can be formal or informal. Formal ponds are geometric and often have brick-built sides and slab edgings. Informal ponds by contrast, are non-geometric, have no built-up sides and can have a variety of edgings, from slabs, rocks, turf, soil/plants etc.
A range of play surfaces are available from sterile, clean play bark to rubber products or sand. Areas can be designed to incorporate various play equipment and surfacing types and we can arrange and build the play area to suit your requirements.
We have considerable knowledge and experience on planting and can advise on suitable plants for the garden and devise planting plans where needed. We plant everything from semi-mature trees to alpines and can compliment the final finish by adding bark chippings, or membraning and gravelling borders.
These can be of either metal or wooden construction, and either bought in kit-form and made to fit any area. Posts are concrete-in and pergola/arch built on-site. Treatment can be applied to surfaces if necessary.
We specialise in laying natural stone slabs. They are currently cheaper than their concrete equivalents, obviously never lose their natural colour or texture and suit both new and old properties.
A compacted base layer is recommended to be laid beneath patio areas, but is not always essential. Slabs are laid on a full bed of wet mortar, with consideration of falls and where water will drain to. Slabs are cut to size and shape and pointed between with an air-cured jointing compound.
Paths can be constructed many different ways, using a wide variety of materials Most surfacing types are described in the ‘Driveways’ section, but slabs are an obvious choice , as is gravel or even bark chippings in the right setting.
We work alongside electricians to install the main armoured cable around the garden to the connection point outside the house. A qualified electrician must carry out all electrical work and should provide you with a certificate on completion. All electrical work outside has to comply with Building Regs Part P.
Although we can install and locate hot tubs/spas of all sizes, a qualified electrician is always needed to connect the unit to the mains supply. We can recommend local electricians if necessary. Spas can be laid on any level surface from slabs, concrete or gravel.
These are simply created by laying a good woven weed-guard membrane (Plantex or similar) over the area and laying approx. 2-inches of gravel over the surface. Areas are usually embellished with stepping stones or random slabs, planting, water-features and pots.
Metal or wooden gates can be installed with hinges, latches, bolts, jockey wheels, drop bolts etc. depending on the size and style of gate. Gates are secured to timber wall plates fixed onto buildings or posts concreted-into the ground.
Posts can be wooden or concrete and are always concreted-in. Post-caps and finials can be added to wooden posts and wooden or concrete gravel boards can be laid to protect the bottom of fence/trellis from rotting in the soil. Panels come in a large variety of styles and can be inserted between posts, or for picket / feather-edge fencing the rails and boards are erected on-site.
Decking can be laid onto a solid surface or raised off the ground. Where it comes onto contact with the house, the finished height of the deck should be 2 bricks below the damp proof course.Where it is raised off the ground, posts are either driven or concreted-in to position, depending on the height and weight-loading of deck. The posts are connected by a framework of 4x2-inch or 6x2-inch tantalised timber, screwed into position. Deck boards can be either softwood or hardwood and can be either screwed directly down to the frame or stainless steel fixings can be screwed to the frame, with boards clipped into position to give a seamless, screw-free finish. It is advised to oil boards rather than use a water-based paint. It is much harder to maintain a painted, than one that has been oiled.
Often used around decking or patios, ballustrading comes in numerous forms. Mostly, 4-inch square wooden posts are screwed to deck frame or concreted-in, with a wooden hand rail screwed top and bottom to form bays. Each bay can have wooden spindles or wooden/metal panels fitted between to finish.
Depending on size, usage and underlying soil-type of driveways, a hardcore base (usually MOT Type 1 aggregate) is laid to a depth of 4-6-inches and compacted with a vibrating plate. Where the subsoil is relatively soft or the ground is ‘made-up’, a membrane can be laid beneath the hardcore to help prevent future movement of the base course.
All edgings are laid on a bed of wet concrete and/or haunched along sides with concrete
A 1-2-inch screed of sand is laid over the compacted hardcore layer, with blocks laid on the sand. Blocks are cut to size where necessary, kiln-dried sand brushed into all joints and the drive compacted with a vibrating plate to finish.
A slightly different base course foundation (Type3 MOT) is laid with this type of paving to increase its porosity. A 1-2-inch screed of grit-stone is laid on the compacted foundation with blocks laid on to screed. Blocks are cut to size as necessary and drive is compacted with further grit brushed into joints.
Base course tarmac is laid and compacted to a depth of 40-60mm onto the compacted foundation layer. A 20-30mm top coat is then raked, levelled and rolled over surface to finish. Block pavers can be integrated as an edging around perimeter of drive or as a central feature to help break up large areas or to personalise your drive.
Gravel is laid to a depth of no more than 2-inches and is recommended to be between 14-20mm in size with suitable hardness not to crush under the weight of vehicles. Self-bind gravel is a mixture of aggregate from 6mm to dust and is compacted to finish is leave a solid but permeable surface.
A 2-inch compacted screed of sand is laid over the compacted foundation, with a membrane laid between sand and the Aco Ground Guard tiles (for large areas). The tiles interlock and are cut to size on-site to fit edges. The tiles are pinned every 2m to give extra strength and can be filled with gravel (usually up to 10mm in size), or with top soil and grass seeded.
Resin bonded gravel can be applied to a tarmac or concrete surface. Existing surfaces must be repaired, if required, and high pressure cleaned. If new tarmac or concrete is laid, approx. 4 weeks curing time is required before resin surfacing can be laid. A primer coat is also necessary to seal the surface. Resin bonded gravel is very sensitive to weather conditions. Surfaces must be dry and a clear 24-hour forecast is needed when laying. Temperatures also need to be above 5 Celsius.
The resin is squeegeed-out over the surface to a depth of approx. 2-4mm with the gravel scattered over the resin surface in excess, to allow the resin to bond. The excess gravel is then brushed off to remove all loose chippings. An acrylic sealer coat can then be applied to seal gravel from the elements (see ‘Sealing’ section)
Resin bound gravel can be applied to a tarmac or concrete surface, or laid onto a permeable base.. It is laid to a depth of 20mm on solid surfaces, using gravel ranging from 0.5-6mm in size. Using 6-10mm gravel allows the surface to become permeable and is used most commonly around trees, or where porosity is essential. This is laid at 40-50mm depth directly onto permeable base.
The resin and gravel are mixed together in a mixer for the bound system. It is then trowelled down to create a smooth, seamless surface. Kiln-dried sand can be applied to the surface whilst curing to add grip. Glass and other decorative aggregates can be used to create stunning individual areas.
Acrylic or polyurethane sealant can be applied to block-paved and resin bonded drives to provide protection from weathering, discolouration and weed growth. The sealant makes the sand between the joints in block-paving set hard. Acrylic sealant can be applied using a sprayer, polyurethane is applied with a roller. Edges are taped to protect areas from spread of sealant.
Beautiful Gardens, 8 Barlow Drive, Fradley, Lichfield, WS138TL Tel: 01543 444 470 Mob: 07709 433 493
Beautiful Gardens are members of the Association of Professional Landscapers, the Horticultural Trades Association and the government endorsed TrustMark scheme. Beautiful Gardens strongly supports all aspects of environmental issues and actively supports the David Bellamy Tree Appeal.