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The team at Scotland’s Shepherds Landscaping & Building love a good landscaping challenge to get their creative juices flowing, and so quickly took on a mammoth project to transform a 100m2 ‘mud pile with exposed pipes’ into a pristine garden design. See what materials, products and tools they used to achieve a slick and professionally paved finish.
As a specialist in bespoke and unique landscaping designs, John Shepherd of Shepherds Landscaping & Building in Dundee was approached to work on a domestic landscaping project that would utilise his team’s full range of building and paving skills.
John describes the job as transforming what was originally ‘a mud pile with exposed pipework’ into a tiered play and entertaining area with lots of steps and practical storage features. Their hard work also included the groundworks for a new driveway that will be finished at a later date.
Although it took John and his team longer than expected to create this impressive and very functional garden due to the sheer volume and scale, the end result has been a dream come true to the garden’s owners, Paul and Leanne.
Review the before and after photos to see the scale of the project on a residential garden, both front and back, in Dundee.
John shares, “We took out no less than 140 tonnes of earth and rubble to create a usable garden (upper tier) and prep a future driveway.
“In went 100m2 of Overland dark porcelain.
“A million cuts were needed to achieve a geometric wrap around pattern to the patio, from front to back, with a contrasting picture frame in light grey porcelain edging.
“We also created a number of sets of new steps, in the same porcelain and finished with a very classy aluminium step trim.”
To add a striking contrasting colour to the dark porcelain, John and his team chose to use Fuga Pave Grout in Light Grey for the pointing.
John shared with us his experience of using Fuga Pave. “There are other products out there four times the price which don’t feel as easy to use as Fuga Pave.
“The choice of colours is a big plus. Having five to choose from in solid colours feels like a bit of a luxury as some other products are more limited and tend to come with a mixed grain, which sometimes detracts from the finish I want.”
Take a look into the five Fuga Pave grout colours available.
In addition to the tiered paving, the clients Paul and Leanne wanted to split the future driveway away from the garden.
“We installed a new retaining wall with a shed-load of timber sleepers and another set of steps to the lower area,” explains John.
“The sleepers were blowtorch treated, for the shou sugi ban effect. We also repaired the boundary wall in a number of places and planted some hedging to fill in existing gaps.”
A first for John and his team, they also built a garage extension with a full timber and felt roof.
“We’re really pleased with how the project came together. It was one of those jobs that took a hell of a lot longer than planned, just due to the sheer volume of the key parts of the job. But we are all impressed with the end result.”
John has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to bespoke landscape designs.
“I started out bricklaying when I was around 18 years old for a small local business who did landscaping,” he explains. “So as well as learning bricklaying, I was able to learn all the arts and crafts of general landscaping, patios, decking and so on.
“I later moved to a bigger building firm who also did landscaping as part of their business and continued to learn more detailed work together with a lot of joiner skills to add to the landscaping skills.”
John shares that he’s always been very creative and arty. “Along with my landscaping experiences, this creativity has helped me craft my own style of working to deliver projects that are bespoke and a bit less ordinary.
“I made the leap to start my own company seven years ago and it’s only helped me hone my skills. I push my creativity to the limits and will try my hand at anything to give the customer something unique.”
When we asked John which paving system he prefers to use on his projects he said that it really depends on the paving materials he’s working with.
“I always choose a full bed mortar, slurry primer and the right finish for grout. But the products can change depending on the type of stone or paving material used.
“There is no one-size-fits-all, but always following British Standards and best practice is a must.”
Reflecting on old landscaping methods, he shares, “The way we do things has changed over time. For example, grouts weren’t grouts years ago – instead we used hand-mixed cement, then jointing compound and now external grouts.
“It is hard to keep up sometimes, but important to move with the times and try out new products. I like to find things that work, products that will last the test of time and that look the best.”
One of John’s latest tested products is Aquacut’s Fuga Pave system which was used on his most recent Dundee landscaping job.
“Learning to use Fuga Pave has been easy and it is a firm favourite for future jobs. It offers a high-end finish without a huge price tag.
“With Fuga Pave, the price for the quality of install is fantastic,” he adds. “With the right sized joints, a little goes a long way and I am really impressed with how far it goes, how well it fills the joints and in the overall finish.”
We asked John if he had any extra advice to share with other landscapers about getting the most from Fuga Pave.
“Mix a quarter of a bag at a time so you can use the product without rushing and worrying about it going off too quickly,” he says. “This also helps to keep consistent coverage working in smaller batches.”
John also advises on using a grouting gun for installation with a washboy and regular changes of water being a must. Him and his team recently invested in a small Rubi Washboy and says it has been ‘an absolute godsend’ when grouting.
“A hard float and sponge work wonders for getting the grout off quickly and efficiently. I am not a tiler, I am a landscape gardener, so these tools are fairly new to me but I am really impressed with how well they work.
“But although the small Rubi has worked well, the bigger the washboy the better! A stand-up handle float will help a lot so we’re now looking to invest in a larger Raimondi washboy kit, with the float on a handle and bigger bucket.”
After John shared about his new love of washboys, we asked him about his other favourite landscaping tools and equipment.
“There are so many ‘must haves’ it is hard to answer!” he says.
“Suction cups (like the Grabo Pro) are great for moving large paving and helping support good back health.”
Then he says, “You can’t go wrong with an old fashion string line and level and a good stiff broom. Sometimes the oldest ways work best!”
Thank you to John and the team at Shepherds Landscaping & Building for sharing your photos, insights and expert tips after this impressive paving job.
If you’re based in or around Dundee and have a landscaping challenge, get in touch with John by visiting www.shepherdsonline.co.uk or their Facebook page.
If you want to try out Fuga Pave or any of the other products that John chose for this project, get in touch with our team to see how we can help.
Huge discounts are available with The Paving Experts when buying in bulk and products can be delivered the next day, even to mainland Scotland. Call us on 0330 122 1025 to find out more or browse the full range of mortars, primers, grouts, tools and equipment.
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