Green Square Designs
Green Square Designs was born out of a pure love of gardening. The owners of the business Janet and Natalie found that their passion gave them a sense of identity as they transitioned through different stages in life. Their passion has continued to grow, with each project inspiring them further, they want to push themselves creatively without compromising the task at hand and the needs of the client. They are a diligent and whirlwind two woman show who can make your horticultural and landscaping dreams come true!
We had an interesting conversation with them recently, discussing both the creative and practical sides of their business but also the challenges and rewards they have experienced.
How did you come to designing gardens, do either of you have a design background?
Janet: It’s actually quite a funny story, we were both stay at home Mums for many years, well Natalie was helping run the antique business her and her husband own, but we were spending a lot of time taking care of our kids, when one day we turned around and realised our kids didn’t need us as much as we thought they did, and realised it was a good opportunity to start taking some more time for ourselves and to think about properly going back to work.
Natalie: Yes, Janet is right, I think we were both looking for something more and something that made us feel good outside of taking care of our families. We both had always been incredibly passionate about our own gardens so it seemed like an incredibly natural fit. People were always asking us to help with their homes and outside landscape spaces, just giving them ideas as friends, so it felt completely natural to start monetising our advice! We went to Capel Manor and qualified in a three year Garden Design Diploma that covered all aspects of hard and soft landscaping. I personally have a graphic design background but this didn’t make the course any less challenging to be honest.
Janet: I was so nervous Natalie would be flying through the course and I would be stuck struggling but our skills sets definitely complimented one another and the course further cemented our passion for gardens and creating exterior spaces.
Has horticulture always been of importance to you?
Natalie: I think I can speak on behalf of us both when I say 100%. We both had mothers who loved growing plants and cultivating a garden, and both our parents felt it was important to be immersed in outside spaces growing up. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…We were both encouraged to spend as much time outdoors as possible, run and play, discovering the wildlife in our gardens! Although to be honest I think it must have been a little more exciting for Janet, who grew up in Johannesberg! I am pretty positive the landscape and garden wildlife of South Africa is a little more exciting than that of north London!!
What you say a garden or horticulture bring to a house or living space?
Janet: Nat do you mind if I answer this one, I am ready to roll?
Natalie: Go for it!
Janet: We aim to break the barrier between seeing a home and a garden as two independent spaces. The garden is another room of the house, and in the same way horticulture inside a home is the outside world coming in. There should be a fluidity between life in the interior and the exterior as they compliment each other so beautifully. We of course want things to be functional and fill the needs of a client, but a garden undoubtably adds atmosphere to a property, as well as adding value; a garden can very often set the tone for someone coming to visit or spend time in your home. And remember a garden or a horticultural space is a lot easier to change than a living room. Its interesting we often have clients that ask us to come back four or five years after the original design to upgrade or change the use of spaces and thats always exciting!
Can you please describe your design process? What different steps do you go through to create your garden or floral spaces?
Janet: Nat, considering you do all of our technical drawings I am gonna leave this one to you!
Natalie: Good thinking Jan! Hopefully from this interview you can see we work well together balancing each other out. Okay, so when it comes to designing a garden there are various stages. Landscape design is as meticulous as interior design, if you don’t give it the time it deserves it wont be as good as it can be. We have to assess a site, bearing in mind the house and its relationship to the land. We sort out the various focal points, the requirements of the client and then we begin to think about the horticultural facts such as trees, soil, slope of land etc. A drawing of how the space will be sketched is then created with all factors taken into account and hard landscaping. On approval of this, a detailed planting plan with a list of plants and trees will be presented alongside a costing sheet including labour. From that point it whether the client is ready to roll or not!
Are you utilising social media in order to gain clients or do you still feel the business is being promoted more by word of mouth?
Together: Word of mouth!
Janet: I think you have such a personal relationship with your garden that people really trust the experience of others.
Natalie: I do think we need to up our social media though, even if we are just using it to find inspiration. We are worried people wont find our page interesting because we aren’t designing for events or bouquets. But maybe we are wrong, if anyone out there is reading this please let us know if you would be interested in seeing the landscape/garden design process.
Where would you like to see your business heading in the future?
Natalie: I think we would really like to have an establish team of core contractors to work alongside with, and we can use these people to develop more gardens with hard landscaping. I don’t think we would want more projects but definitely to have a more solid team and to continue being inspired!
What has been the greatest challenge you have faced either within a project or in terms of starting the business itself?
Janet: Hmm there are a number of things; unprecedented weather conditions are definitely a killer. We will be going to plant a garden and then out of nowhere there has been snow fall and the ground is frozen. Alternatively building and construction within a home can affect the ground so certain landscape features will no longer be possible to install. There was once a situation where we wanted to install a water feature but because of the installation of a basement it was not possible, it was sad for the family as they loved the water feature and were in fact tired of their basement! Clients expectations have definitely been something challenging, we have to be very honest from the get go about what we can do with their space and additionally with their budget!
What would a future dream project be?
Natalie: We were just discussing this the other day! We would love another blank canvas project where we could work with pergolas again. We found this both challenging and inspiring, but I think we are both desperate to work with an outdoor eating space. Using key elements from garden, interior and landscape design to curate a space that is both exterior with the comfort of interior and which is functional but also pays homage to the beauty of flowers and fauna and wildlife!
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