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We are delighted to have won a BALI National Award for maintaining gardens at Clarks Village

Tony Benger Landscaping was engaged to manage the landscaped grounds around the Clarks Village Designer Shopping Outlet in Street, Somerset, commencing March 2014. The stated aim to create a less municipal planting scheme and create a welcoming village feel.

The first two years were offered on an annual basis only - however the client is so impressed with our work and the improvements we have made that we have been asked to enter into a three year contract - this will help deliver continuity and further upgrading of the landscaping.

Our work on the site has just been judged by leading professionals in the industry and we have won this prestigious award for 2016.

The first year of the contract was focused on basic improvements such as upgrading areas of planting and removing the many plastic containers of bedding. These were replaced with terracotta and lead-effect planters and troughs with more sustainable planting. Tired box cones have been reinvigorated and we continue to improve the shape of these.

The second year of the contract has allowed us to focus on more creative projects. In two key positions on the site we were asked to create ‘Pause Points’, so we had fabricated large bowls made to our own specifications - planted with structural planting this lends a slightly more contemporary touch to the village.

The site comes with some unique challenges such as the Christmas tree bed located in a key area of the site, which has 200mm of top soil on a concrete base. All the plants have to be removed every year so a large Christmas tree and festive display can be erected. Through careful maintenance and sympathetic planting this bed is a key area of the site which must, and does, look good throughout the year.

A constant challenge of the site is the almost ever present public in their thousands with associated health and safety issues and very limited vehicle access. 3.7 million visitors pass through the site each year with associated wear and tear on the landscaping. We have to keep the site looking fresh and healthy at all times.

The scope of the work includes lawn maintenance (a huge challenge with such a footfall), maintaining the numerous planters around the site including provision of seasonal planting, the supply and maintenance of 120 hanging baskets and the maintenance of all planted areas including their gradual replacement or upgrading. Various ecologically beneficial features have been added during the time of our maintenance such as the bird tables and nesting boxes.

The site is rare amongst such centres in having many mature trees of historic and aesthetic significance. These, and the surrounding planting, create a particularly pleasant shopping environment. The aim is to retain shopper’s interest and time on site as well as creating a family friendly atmosphere and promoting repeat visits.

This successful retail site relies on frequently offering something new to shoppers and as well as new brands offered in new shops, this means constantly seeking to improve the gardens of the site. In one instance changing the landscaping of one section of the site, removing the original wall of municipal planting and replacing it with roses, grasses, bulbs and other more colourful planting led to an increased footfall of over 100% to the adjacent shop. This indicates how important the correct landscaping and good continuing maintenance is.

The site has come a long way since our first pre-contract meeting. With the support of the management team at Clarks village we look forward to not only maintaining the site to the highest standard but developing it further through exciting projects over the next three years.