Tree Planting – Good or Bad? by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Oak tree 1

Tree Planting – Good or Bad?

The government has launched a £ 50 Million campaign to encourage farmers and landowners to plant more trees to help tackle climate change but is this a good idea, and what are the options?

Forestry

Tree planting is a long term investment, some native species such as Yew can live for thousands of years and even the non-native Sitka spruce commonly grown in commercial forestry may live past six hundred years although in the UK they may be typically harvested between thirty and fifty years of age. If it is intended to produce timber this may follow a clear felling operation on previously forested land, on peat bog moorland or on more productive agricultural land.

Spruce forest

If sequestration of carbon is the main objective according to scientific research pasture sequesters 30% more carbon than forestry and this grass land may be grazed by the animals that provide us with dairy products and meat. It would seem to be counter-productive to plant trees in the UK if this merely resulted in forest clearances elsewhere in the world so that food may be grown for us to import instead?

Cord Wood 1

What about the rewilding options, how can they help to fight climate change?

Around ten thousand years ago after the climate had warmed at the end of the Ice Age the tundra habitat that had then prevailed in the UK gave way to the primeval woodland that we consider to be native today, remnants of which may be found in what are defined as ancient woodlands, those deemed to be over four hundred years old. This process occurred through natural regeneration, the spread of both flora and fauna from warmer latitudes.

Ancient woodland 1

These woodlands are rich in species diversity containing complex interdependent ecosystems, far better than any man-made creation. They have proved to be resilient in the face of the ongoing post Ice Age climate fluctuations, thriving during the extremes of cold, heat, wet and drought that have occurred since. If allowed to do so these woodlands can expand outwards to regain their former territory through natural regeneration, with the seeds distributed by the wind and in the droppings of wild birds and mammals such as deer.

roe & bluebells

Tree Planting

Nursery grown trees provide an instant visual impact, in the short term is quicker and gives control over what species are planted although the choice may be somewhat limited. If the trees are not local to the area they may bring new plant diseases with them. Planting may be both costly and labour intensive with the trees requiring unsightly stakes and guards, and they may require careful watering and weeding for the first few years until well established.

Tree guards 3

In the 20th century following the devastating loss of the nation’s Elm trees to the imported Dutch Elm disease the government promoted new tree planting, so what became of it? In short the trees failed to thrive:-

Plant a tree in ‘73

Plant some more in ‘74

Still alive in ‘75

Dead as sticks in ‘76

Natural Regeneration

Natural regeneration can be slower to establish and care must be taken to remove any alien invasive species such as Sycamore, however the emerging scrub will provide valuable, diverse wildlife habitats in which declining species such as nightingales may thrive. Survivability will be good in the long term with the scrub gradually transitioning into mature woodlands from which future generations may benefit. Much of this work is currently being pioneered on the Knepp Castle Estate in Sussex.

knepp livestock

Making a choice

Whichever method is used to establish new woodlands there needs to be clearly defined objectives about what this tree planting is supposed to achieve. Is it to be a commercial timber crop that may be used to produce renewable energy wood pellets or is it to be part of a rewilding scheme managed to benefit biodiversity in the future? Each will sequester carbon and both have their advantages and disadvantages, it is however essential  to decide which route to follow before embarking on such a project.

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A sloping garden in Ventnor by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Natural stone walling and steps

A sloping garden in Ventnor, Isle of Wight 

Our clients had lived in their family home for a great many years, it was steeply sloping and mainly laid to lawn with some mature shrubs in peripheral areas. The lawn had however become increasingly difficult to maintain and our client had become concerned that one day she might slip on the steep slope and have a nasty accident whilst mowing it. They liked the idea of having the garden divided into terraces so that they might maintain it themselves but appreciated that the construction of this was a major undertaking for which they required specialist assistance.

Amongst the challenges that we faced, quite apart from the slope itself was how to blend in the new work without disturbing the best areas of mature planting. We split the slope into three distinct areas with grassed pathways and shallow flagstone steps for access, the latter had a special challenge of its own , it had to fit around a main drain and soakaway pit!

Circular Paving and planting

No sooner had we commenced the project than it began to rain, almost every day for the next five weeks, it soon looked like a moon-scaped garden instead. However, the construction of the natural stone supporting walls was soon completed and the levelled lawns grassed with a specially grown turf specifically grown for a coastal location. We relocated many mature shrubs to new locations reinforced by some new areas of tree and shrub planting and constructed circular patios in different parts of the garden to take into account the daytime passage of the sun.

Tim Brayford Landscapes – This lovely Dogwood was well worth keeping

The whole project had taken just over three months to complete, our design had successfully given a new lease of life to their garden. It was far easier for them to maintain, just two or three hours a week.

Our clients said:- “Tim Brayford did a marvelous job, the new features fit in so well with the rest of the garden and I get a great deal of pleasure from it. People who come round are always commenting on how nice the garden looks.”

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Gardens and Deer by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Gardens And Deer

One of the joys of a well laid out garden is that it will attract wildlife, and if you are very lucky you will occasionally be visited by wild deer. However, you can have too much of a good thing so here’s some suggestions of what you can do to ensure that you can enjoy both the deer and your garden.

There are six species of wild deer in the UK varying both in size and habits, one of the smallest, the Chinese Water Deer, is of a very localised distribution and is usually found on open arable land or in reed beds, it is the one least likely to be seen in a garden. Of the others the largest herding species, Red, Sika and Fallow are most often found in the more rural areas and are less likely to be found in a suburban garden although they do occasionally turn up in unusual places. The smaller native Roe and the alien Muntjac are the two most likely to be found in a garden.

Roe deer are sometimes seen in gardens

So how do you know that the deer are present? They are mostly dawn or dusk feeders, Muntjac can feed through the night and you may see chewed off plants and not know quite who the culprit is. Neatly bitten off stems similar to a cut from a sharp secateurs is indicative of a rodent attack, squirrels, rabbits or hares. If the stem is cut on to one side and torn off the other this is more typical of deer.

So what can you do to prevent this damage?

Planting things that deer don’t like to eat can be helpful such as Camellia, Rhododendron or Hydrangea, the RHS produces a comprehensive list of suitable plants.

Camellias are unattractive to deer

Tree guards and shelters are a wise precaution, particularly with new plantings. These will protect against both small and large herbivores, and to some extent carelessly used strimmers!

Fencing off the most vulnerable areas such as vegetable, fruit and roses gardens may be necessary, especially in areas where there are high numbers of deer. Stock fencing up to 6’/1.8m high is ideal, reinforced with 3”/75mm squared netting if Muntjac are present. Make sure the bottom wire is well secured to the ground as deer are known to push up under such fencing. A strand of the highly visible electric fencing tape used to contain horses on the outside of the fence can also be useful. Avoid using double strands of barbed on top of stock netting, deer are prone to getting caught up in this and suffer painful fatal injuries.

Repellents such as lion dung, ultrasonic screeching devices and flashing lights have all been mooted as deer deterrents but in reality their effect is short lived and the deer soon learn to ignore them. Greater details about deer in gardens are available on the BDS website

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Pond Life by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Pond Life

www.timbrayford.co.uk Damsel Flies (2)

Damsel flies

www.timbrayford.co.uk marsh marigold & bee

Marsh Marigold and Bee

Yellow Flag Iris

A small wildlife pond

Dragonfly

jersey butterfly

A Jersey Tiger butterfly feeds on a pond side plant

www.timbrayford.co.uk fish fry

Fish fry in a healthy pond

www.timbrayford.co.uk garden ducks

A pair of wild ducks

www.timbrayford.co.uk Toad 27.7.16 (2)

A Common Toad

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and we are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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The Wilder look by Isle of Wight Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The Wilder Look 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Meadow Cranesbill

A stumpery

Spindle berries

Midsummer meadow flowers

Woodland and Bluebells

Leave some wood to decay for fungus to grow on

Yellow rattle is an essential plant in a wildflower meadow

Damselflies are attracted to pond side plants

Fritillaria naturalised into a boggy pond margin

Wild Cowslip

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Colourful raised beds

A Residential Care Home on the Isle of Wight

As part of a major refurbishment we were called in to upgrade the gardens at one of the island’s most prestigious nursing homes. We had worked for the same client before at another of their establishments and we were looking forward to working with them again.

The building had been doubled in size and featured a sunny inner courtyard accessible to the residents, raised beds were constructed within it which enabled them to gain the full benefit of the flowering, scented plants that featured in our carefully considered scheme. In such locations it is vital realise that elderly people can sometimes get confused and attempt to eat things that are not good for them so avoiding spiky or poisonous leaves and berries was essential.

Fragrant French Lavender

Outside was some mature woodland which we extended with new native trees and a grassy slope leading down to the sea, located within an Area of Outstanding Beauty, this too presented some challenges. The soil was a very heavy clay that had to be improved with large amounts of compost. Again we had to be mindful of the need to provide a safe environment for the residents whilst providing as much scent and colour from the plants that we used as possible . Decorative bark mulches were spread around the planting to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, thus reducing future maintenance requirements

Newly extended native woodland

Ground conditions were yet another challenge as with the onset of autumn rains it would become unworkable. We had to even out the slope to a more shallow grade, easier for those who needed the help of a stick or frame to walk on and separate areas of this had to be both seeded and turfed whilst we were still able to do so.

The owner of this prestigious establishment said:- “ Tim Brayford has done a great job bringing the gardens up to the high standard of our care home”

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Spring Flowers by National Award Winning Garden Designer Tim Brayford

Spring Flowers 

A successful garden will  contribute significantly to our well-being and quality of life.  It may play host to a broad range of flora and fauna enhancing local biodiversity and collectively benefiting the wider world environment by absorbing CO2. Here are just a few examples from gardens on the Isle of Wight and elsewhere. 

Marsh Marigold and Bee

Snowdrops

Tulips and Bluebells

Narcissus and Lunaria flowers

Cowslips

Daffodils

Camellia

Flowering Currant and Bee

Chaenomeles

Early Cherry Blossom

A late spring assemblage of blooms

Woodland and Bluebells

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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Going Peat Free by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

A natural peat bog, according to the IUCN peatlands store 30% of global carbon

Going Peat Free

Peat has long been used within the horticultural industry both as a growing medium used in composts and as a soil conditioner. It is a natural product composed of slowly decaying plant material built up over many thousands of years.

It is harvested primarily from lowland raised peat bogs, an increasingly endangered form of habitat along with the flora and fauna that it supports. But this is not all, it efficiently locks up atmospheric CO2 forming an effective and vital buffer against climate change.

Modern peat harvesting destroys the original peat bog

Fortunately advances in recycling and composting technology has rendered the use of peat redundant for most conventional gardening purposes. Peat free compost is made up mainly from recycled waste organic material such as bark, sawdust, coir, paper etc. blended with inorganic materials such as sand , grit or perlite, with fertiliser added as appropriate.

A simple guide on how to avoid using peat in the garden:-

Only purchase composts specifically labelled as being “Peat Free”

Use recycled garden waste as a soil improver and conditioner. Traditionally gardeners have done this for themselves by constructing their own compost heap, high quality recycled composts are also available from many municipal authorities

Source plants from nurseries and garden centres that have peat free policies

Plant only what will already grow in your existing soil without adding peat

Raised peat bog flora like this Bog Cranberry will be destroyed by harvesting

*******It is the policy of Tim Brayford Landscapes to avoid using peat and peat based products*******

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A Seaside Garden on the Isle of Wight – by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

A Seaside Garden

Meeting the challenges of a seaside garden

Our clients had recently purchased a highly desirable seaside residence bordering the Solent. It had previously been used for commercial purposes and the grounds were in need of a considerable upgrade. On entering the driveway there were numerous eyesores that considerably detracted from the wonderful sea views that were evident. We removed a derelict mobile home , broken fencing and dying plants from an ill-advised and failed scheme that a previous occupant had planted.

In their place we constructed a series of raised beds supported by Cotswold natural stone walling. These were mass planted with a selection of evergreen flowering shrubs, carefully chosen to withstand exposure to salt laden winds whilst providing fragrance and reflecting the colours of the sea. A matching buff coloured self-binding gravel was sourced on the mainland to resurface the driveway with.

Plants thriving right on the water’s edge!

Adjacent to the house we planted semi-mature container grown conifers obtained from a specialist supplier near to London. These trees created instant impact in this part of the garden. Semi-mature evergreen hedging was planted to shield the garden from the worst of the wind. Planted areas were mulched with decorative bark chips to retain moisture and reduce weed growth, easing ongoing maintenance requirements.

Santolina thrives at the seaside

The surrounding lawn areas had previously been laid with a cheap turf unsuitable for this seaside location, the grass was in a very poor state and needed replacing. This was removed and the ground, which was quite uneven, levelled off. We imported a high quality seeded lawn turf grown inthe midlands with fine leaved grass species that thrive in locations next to the sea. There were a few challenging areas of the garden that were subject to being flooded, albeit infrequently, by the sea. These were planted with a mixture of shrub and herbaceous including Tamarisk, Sea Cotton Lavender and Sea Thrift.

 

Our client said:- Everything looks great in the garden, thankyou Tim for all you have done for us

Tim Brayford Landscapes were established in 1980 and are British Association of Landscape Industries National Award Winners for Garden Design & Construction. For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918

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A garden with a view, Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight – by Garden Designer Tim Brayford

The  garden that we created

What can you do with an awkwardly shaped sloping garden? 

We were contacted by a client in Carisbrooke, she was moving into a newly built house which had wonderful views of Carisbrooke Castle, unfortunately the same could not be said of the garden that the builders had left her with, it simply consisted of a grassy slope so steep that it was impossible for her to cut it. She needed a garden that was more easily maintained and landscaped to a high standard.

We assessed the site for her and advised her on what needed to de done, she then commissioned a set of scale plans from us which detailed the general layout and itemised what was to be planted. The garden had to be in keeping with the area, the house is on the outskirts of Carisbrooke with views both of the castle and surrounding countryside. An informal natural look was preferred combined with low maintenance . We recommended leaving the area to the front of the house more open as this naturally led the eye into the surrounding area, save for some Beech hedging that was planted to screen a wooden fence and under-planting the grass with spring flowering bulbs.

The garden had spectacular views of Carisbrooke Castle and the surrounding countryside

One of the biggest challenges was the steepness of the plot, the client was not keen on splitting it up into terraces so a different solution had to be found.We constructed a curving shallow flight of steps out of old railway sleepers, mass planted on either side with ground covering shrubs. The thin chalky ground in which these shrubs are planted has been enriched with a large amount of compost and mulched with a generous layer of bark flakes to help retain moisture and supress weed growth. An automated irrigation system has been installed to ensure that the plants do not run short of water during dry spells.

At the top of the slope to provide a level sitting area that made the best of the views we created an elevated deck and a pergola. Fragrant climbing roses, Clematis and a vine were planted up it, the whole structure providing some shade on sunny days and an element of privacy from being overlooked from neighbouring houses. A couple of planters for seasonal bedding were constructed on the front of the deck.

Newly planted

A modest water feature was constructed to the side of the deck, this consisted of a small pebble filled stream and a waterfall dropping into a rocky pool, with the water recirculated by a solar powered pump. The bubbling sound of the water running through this was most relaxing. This wildlife friendly garden attracts many kinds of birds, badgers and red squirrels.

Our client said:- “What I particularly didn’t want was a garden that took a lot of hard work. The way Tim has done it I can enjoy the garden and work in it when I want to. It is just a source of pleasure. Tim really was fantastic, he saw to all the work himself, was totally reliable and created the garden that I wanted. Everyone who visits here says how pretty the garden is.”

For more photos, advice & stories about gardening please visit our  website  email timbrayfordlandscapes@gmail.com  phone 07890 869918