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Covid 19 and lockdown: how to adapt a garden advice service to support those at home

Birds wildlife in the garden

Spring and planning your garden transformation – a good time to start?

Spring is usually a busy time for garden designers responding to enquiries as homeowners start to think about their garden as daylight hours extend, and buds emerge on plants and trees. Early Spring is a good time for planting and this is probably what initiates the call at this time of year.  Homeowners contact me as they plan ahead for the summer months, anticipating the occasions to spend more time outdoors; when they are searching for advice and creative ideas on how to enhance their outdoor space.

Social distancing and providing tailored garden advice?

But, the spread of Covid 19 in the UK and the impact of lockdown with social distancing in March & April meant some homeowners hit the pause button on their garden projects.  For three weeks the enquiries stopped completely, understandable given the unprecedented situation, whilst life changed everyone’s day to day priorities.

However I was keen to find different ways of working so that garden projects could continue to progress whilst staying safe within lockdown.  This was the time when people really needed their gardens.  For some people – gardens being their only accessible outdoor space, for many – having the time to appreciate what garden and green space they have and what to do with it.

In response, the first service to be adapted was my established One-off Consultation and was trialled for the first time for my retired clients, Karen and Roland.

Excited with a new garden, but don’t know where to start?

They contacted me after recently downsizing and moving into their bungalow in Skipton and they were excited about transforming their outdoor space. However their initial excitement was tempered – they were daunted and making progress had stalled.

Adapting a tried and tested service avoiding social contact

Sensing their desire to keep the project moving and to have a plan of action, I suggested using a video consultation in place of the initial meeting at their home.  This worked well. I could still meet them ‘face to face’ and discuss their garden albeit not in person.

During this conversation we refined the brief, clarifying my understanding of what they wanted from their garden and identified how my One-off Consultation service could help them achieve it. Sharing my computer screen, also proved invaluable enabling us to view garden sketches and images for inspiration and reference.

The site assessment is normally the next phase of the consultation. Lockdown and social distancing meant we had to rethink this and establish whether I could access the garden without going near the house or coming into contact with the clients or their neighbours. Due to the layout of this particular house and garden this was possible, and I was able to visit the garden and complete the assessment without meeting anyone, or coming into contact with any parts of the property.

One key benefit of the One-off Consultation is that I see your garden with fresh eyes. Sometimes just viewing a garden from a different angle can spark an idea. For Karen and Roland’s garden, the far end of their plot had been ear marked as the vegetable garden.  But walking round the garden, one idea that came to mind was that this spot would make a perfect seating area with views of the surrounding moors and countryside above the rooftops.

“We were beginning to get frustrated, due to the lockdown period, it was really good that you were still able to help us and give us ideas.  The way it worked out, with the video call, seemed to work fine.  It made us feel that at least we could move forward despite the lockdown restrictions.”

Karen & Roland
Skipton, One off consultation

Positive feelings during uncertain times

I’m delighted that I was able to adapt my One-off Consultation service and start working with Karen and Roland. Being able to suggest ideas and an action plan has given them a sense of progress and optimism about their new garden, which was important, particularly at a time when the world feels very uncertain.

Read here for more tips about Lockdown: Gardening through the Coronavirus Crisis

When to ask for advice?

It’s worth noting – making that initial enquiry in Spring for changes a few weeks ahead, may be leaving things a bit late.  Much better to start in September/Autumn time for design advice to implement changes the following year.

At busy times of year, there may be a minimum of 6 week lead time to book a consultation.  Other times, as little as 2-4 weeks. I will do my best to accommodate your enquiry.



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