Once the site has been cleared and all unwanted elements removed, the stage is set for the commencement of the building of the new garden. Usually the building works comprising two stages of construction: First Phase Construction usually involves the installation of elements rarely seen once the project has been completed. Many of these ‘not visible’ construction elements, although unseen many are fundamental for the long term performance and viability of the finished garden with the added complication that many may not be readily accessible once the garden has been completed and therefore it is essential that all first phase construction elements are done once and done right!
The construction phase of most new gardens is generally straightforward and sequential with only the prevailing weather the uncontrollable external factor impacting on construction progress. Following the site clearance, the sequence is usually:
- marking out
- excavations (foundation trenches, patio areas etc)
- pour concrete foundations, complete any remedial works to boundary walls, fit wall capping etc
- construction of raised planting beds (concrete block work and later rendered or construction of natural walls)
Marking out the site (generally involving spraying an outline of the design onto the ground) is always a useful visual representation of the new design providing the owners with a clear guide to the proposed space allocations. It is a very helpful and practical opportunity to become more familiar with new layout and facilitating any size and space amendments to the various elements (raised planting beds, patios, pathways, lawn etc) thus avoiding making any later changes during an advanced stage of the construction.
Any necessary adjustments to size, position or layout are easily made at this stage. In this project and prior to the commencement of excavating foundation trenches, it was first necessary to install a land drainage pipework along rear boundary wall to control the dampness cause by water percolating from neighbouring sites. Essentially this entailed excavating a 600mm – 900mm deep trench into which a 100mm slotted land drain pipe wrapped with a protective but permeable membrane which was placed on a base of 150mm drainage and covered all round by 150mm of drainage pebble.
Once the pipe gradient had been checked and secured, the trench was back filled with soil. Once the foundation concrete had set, block wall construction got underway. Construction work was severely hampered by the many prolonged spells of heavy rain and although progress was slow, once does one’s best and by the time all block work has been completed and the works start on constructing the natural stone wall finishes, one is encouraged by the early signs of the emerging character of the new garden.