True Grit...and Stone...and Timber...and Iron...

Materials and detailing should be at the back of the designer's mind from the very start of a project, because it is through these that the mood and style of the garden can be conveyed, every bit as much as through the spatial arrangement and the planting.

 

 

Materials in traditional and modern usage - the power of association with regional traditions means that the location of at least some of these is obvious without any further information.

 

Materials have to be suited to the garden as well as to the local vernacular styles of building and construction, and for this reason I feel strongly about the use of plastics, glass and stainless steel in contemporary gardens - they are available everywhere, have an immutable appearance and do not reflect any traditions of building for many of the gardens they are used in. 

For show gardens, where there is no context within which the garden exists, these materials offer a great opportunity to experiment with shapes and structures, and in a setting of modern architecture they are clearly more appropriate and have their place.  If we want to use these modern fabrics in our designs then we should be pushing developers, planners and architects to build visually and spatially modern housing stock - housing that is not merely a tepid rehash of the sub-Arts and Crafts genre which has prevailed in the UK since the 1920s but which is not only well-suited to the needs of modern living but also offers a suitable backdrop for the contemporary garden.

It is possible, however to find modern materials and usages that can bridge the gap between a modern garden and period houses.  Gentler surfaces, such as that offered by Cor-ten steel, for instance, are a halfway house between the modern and traditional - the modern material picks up the colours of earth and brick, and is a subtly changing presence as it weathers.

 

 

A tank in Cor-ten steel, with Bredon gravel terrace and crisp timber cladding: bridging the gap between traditional and modern.

 

 

The best materials to use in most gardens will be those which have a counterpart in the local architecture or which are established as the best suited for their purpose.  In an exterior context we are talking about stone (limestone, flint, sandstone), brick, iron, timber, gravel and tile. 

Using materials appropriate to the climate and building tradition of the area makes a design relevant - it will sit happily with the house it belongs to, and will be a far less jarring imposition in the landscape than if the materials are alien. 

In city courtyards and gardens (in which the relationship of the local architecture to traditional forms and the landscape has already been stretched to breaking point by the urban surroundings) there is greater scope for the use of modern materials, but I feel that there are plenty of ways of creating an up-to-date look in gardens with traditional materials if these are handled creatively.

 

 

A jokily unusual use of traditional brick in a Chelsea show garden.

 

 

Think about the alignment and spacing of timber and stone, flush finishes placed next to unfinished surfaces, juxtapositions of the unexpected, combinations of materials exploited for their differing structural qualities: there is plenty of scope here for creating something unusual yet true to the vernacular traditions of a site.  Ironwork set in Bredon gravel, timber of differing widths and spacings to clad fences or shelters, unplaned timber contrasted with highly finished render or tiling, decking planks interspersed with channels of gravel or grass - all these could (and do) bring traditional materials convincingly into contemporary exterior design, and are examples of the ongoing dialogue that a garden has with the surrounding landscape and with the people who create it.

 

Paul Ridley Design

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

Comments

  • First off, apologies for the title.  It could have been worse, but I thought even LJNers would balk at 'Roar: Materials'!
  • Very interesting and thought provoking - thanks Paul
This reply was deleted.

You need to be a member of Landscape Juice Network to add comments!

Join Landscape Juice Network

Open forum activity

Dave Hooper replied to alan mcmillan's discussion I'm looking for a decent duplicate Invoice book?
"For all my regulars I don't  I voice, they don't want the paper and it saves me time on data entry, which I never do for invoices. Only invoice for one off, commercial and when materials are involved, I invoice mostly by email. Made my own invoice…"
2 minutes ago
Megan Poole posted a discussion
Hi,Myself and a colleague have been asked to tender for maintenence contracts for 2 primary schools that are part of a trust partnership. I'm fine costing up everything else as I've been doing garden and small scale grounds maintenance for 8/9 years…
22 minutes ago
Jonathan Davidson replied to alan mcmillan's discussion I'm looking for a decent duplicate Invoice book?
"Does anyone have any recent reccommendations of suppliers for again a decent duplicate invoice book ? Something to leave for mainly the ad-hoc or irregular customers where a job has been done and it can be left through the door if they are out…"
33 minutes ago
Bruce Martin replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"thank you all for your comments - I think I will go down the cordless route - most of my work is thinner hedging - I still have a small petrol hedge cutter just not a long reach pole so that should do the thicker stuff - thanks again "
2 hours ago
dan replied to Adam Woods's discussion Renovating box topiary
"id go by eye and use a good T series sthil hedge cutter. Id start now with light shaping and then go harder in spring and aim to do again lightly sept next year and repeat the following year. Should be able to get them back in two years. "
4 hours ago
John F replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"Yes i agree i watch those videos myself  in fact i recently bought a lazer cut blade which came with sharpening instructions we can only trust the advice has being tried and tested and learn from experoence , I believe its possible to sharpen them…"
5 hours ago
Martin knight, Gary McGeown and Stephen Allen joined Landscape Juice Network
15 hours ago
Dave Hooper replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"Not heard about no sharpening blades. My dealers never mentioned that.
There's  Stihl how to sharpen hedge cutter blade videos on-line. I sharpen mine when there blunt. I find that once the touching worn down in the inside they just don't cut fine…"
16 hours ago
John F replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"I find cordless is is a joy to use on hedges which just need regular trimming and existing shape and height maintaining but i find petrol has the edge on the bigger jobs but i understand from what i learn on here that there are stihl cordless models…"
18 hours ago
Gary McGeown replied to Terka Acton's discussion Sunken trampoline supply/installation
"Some of the images below look pretty great, and we have found that there are usually excellent videos available from the trampoline manufacturers on Youtube. We have some videos from Berg. Let us know if you want to have a look.
Gary"
19 hours ago
Gary McGeown updated their profile
19 hours ago
Dave Hooper replied to Adam Woods's discussion Renovating box topiary
"I'd always use a hedge cutter for Stuff like that, especially renovation."
20 hours ago
Adam Woods replied to Adam Woods's discussion Renovating box topiary
"Well here are two examples of the problems - and to remind people... I have been doing the garden (2acres) on around 3 hours a week for the past 2 years or so - and tbh have followed the shape that the cones and spheres were.  We could quite easily…"
20 hours ago
Brian www.mibservices.co.uk replied to Gary RK's discussion Ramps - what are the options ?
"Hi Gary, aye good mate, except the obvious C19 we're all going through..... you ?"
yesterday
Bruce Martin replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"sorry should of made it clear I do servicing generally on it ie greasing etc every month but send it for a full service once a year - no sap hasn't dried - taken head off nothing looks stuff and well lubricated - looks like it is in the main gearbox…"
yesterday
Dave Hooper replied to Bruce Martin's discussion petrol v battery
"I use mine this morning to cut the top off a laylandi hedge, it hadn't been cut for two years, it did fine. But I had to get the petrol poll saw out for a few bits.
You should try a demo one, I wish a brought them years ago!"
yesterday
More…

petrol v battery

Any views on battery v petrol for a long reach pole trimmerI have had a petrol husqvarna for quite a few years but unfortunately coming to the end of its life I feel as blades have ceased (although this one is only 3 years old ! and maintained…

Read more…
9 Replies · Reply by Bruce Martin 2 hours ago

Viburnum problem

Hi All,Can anyone identify the problem on these viburnum. They are planted this year and were fine until a few days ago. They were sprayed with liquid fertiliser last week mixed with pesticide..... at least I hope thsts what it was.. Paul

Read more…
8 Replies · Reply by Richard Shelton yesterday