Before I went to University to begin my studies in Geography, I owned a small gardening business.
Gardening is a peculiar past time.
For some it is a necessary chore; the weeding of a drive, the mowing of a lawn, these monotonous activities need to be done in order to keep one’s garden looking presentable, therefore conforming to the accepted norm. For others (me included!), it’s a joy that gives them endless hours of pottering around and fresh air. Each project that we take on is one that will stand the test of time, each seed we plant, an investment in the future.
Although the work started out as relatively simple, small jobs, weeding gardens and planting flower beds, soon I was asked to bring to life my clients’ dream gardens to life and do it all in an environmentally friendly way. You might assume that this would be a relatively easy job to perform, you’d be surprised at how demanding clients can be and how hard it can be to keep your carbon footprint small – even when you’re working on the smallest of back gardens.
Responding to these requests required ingenuity and a great deal of research. Although large scale garden transformations might have been all the rage back in the 90s, the modern homeowner does not look as kindly on concrete pathways, dodgy water features and wooden decking as it once did. As a result, the onus was on me to devise and source environmentally solutions to my clients’ demands.
Thankfully, I was given a relatively free rein, in regards to how I got my work done. I could therefore take some interesting routes to solving my problem.
Say, for example, that my client wanted ‘natural looking’ garden furniture – an alternative to the plastic and glass monstrosities that you so often see being sold at B&Q and Homebase. My solution to this? Upcycle timber packing cases from an online seller and re-shape the boxes into affordable, beautiful outside furniture.
Although the gaudy fountains and ugly faux-concrete ornaments firmly belonged in the past, clients still wanted some kind of water feature in their back gardens. Flat-out refusing anything approximating one of those God awful pre-moulded plastic ponds, I instead opted for a natural, eco-friendly option. Although more labour intensive, this method allowed me to be more creative with my designs as well as further protect the environment.
Of course the go-to option that I recommended each and every one of my clients was a compost heap.
Most people might not like the idea of a stinking pile of garbage in their back garden, but using more of those handy timber packing cases I found ways of constructing and hiding these compulsory garden staples and allowing my clients’ to successfully reduce their waste.
I was fortunate enough to be paid to do something I enjoy for the 6 years that I ran my business, this was my first foray into independent enterprise.