Winning ways: what can the winners of the 2018 APL Awards teach us?

The Association of Professional Landscapers Awards provide an annual opportunity to celebrate and reward excellent and creative work across the landscaping industry. As in previous years, the winners of the 2018 APL Awards provide a rich source of inspiration for landscape designers, gardeners and builders. Here are five landscaping lessons that the winners of this year’s awards can teach us:

1. How to maximise small spaces

Identifying an excellent project on a smaller budget in the ‘Project Value Under £20,000’ category, the judges crowned Green Rooms’ Modern Courtyard Project the winner. Brighton-based Gabriel Pol exquisitely transformed a small space in a city garden, proving that big spaces and big budgets aren’t prerequisites to producing exemplary design. Also transforming a small space, but with a significantly larger budget, was the winner of the ‘Project Value £100,000 – £200,000’, won by Landscape Associates. The team maximised the potential of a small Kensington garden by the clever use of walls and levels, masterfully created with high-end materials. Their creation was deemed so exceptional that it also took home the award for ‘Overall Design & Build’.

2. Committing to a brief

Responding effectively to a client’s brief is paramount, and this was acknowledged in Urban Landscape Design’s Heathland’s Care Home project, which incorporated a beach-themed garden that is suitable for dementia patients. The judges commented that it took a “well-considered and crafted approach to a challenging project, which delivered the client’s hopes and ambitions for the space.” Similar compliments were extended to Wardrop Design’s Hampstead project, that the judges felt showed total commitment to the client’s brief and delivered a high level of detail, winning the ‘APL Designer of the Year’ category. This family-friendly garden was created with a contemporary feel by incorporating a sophisticated blend of porcelain, cedar and copper, complemented by a planting palette of mauves, white, purple and lime but had the needs of the family at the forefront of the design.

3. How to be clever with multi-functional design

Maximising a garden’s potential by making it a multi-purpose space is often a key part of a brief. The judges recognised the skill this involves by making Kingston Landscape Group the winner of the ‘Community Garden’ category for their Tubs Hill project, that provided multi-use areas around a challenging multi-level courtyard layout. Ryan Alexander Landscape Design & Build were recognised for their exceptional Dean Grange project, winning the ‘Project Design Over £200,000’ and the prestigious ‘Supreme Winner’ category for a garden that was “built for purpose and reason”, with “perfect creative planting” and “an impressive and inspirational achievement for other landscapers”. The ‘Garden Feature’ winner, JB Landscapes, were also recognised for the multi-purpose and innovative use of gabion walls that made their Caledonian Road project an excellent example of creativity and execution.

4. The importance of using quality materials

Demonstrating that an emphasis on quality should run throughout projects of all values, Lanwarne Landscapes was the winner of the ‘Project Value £20,000 – £35,000’ category. Their Georgian Close project involved the skilful use of materials, finished to a very high standard in both the hard and soft landscaping features. Similar compliments were extended to the winner of the ‘Project Value £60,000 – £100,000’, with the judges noting the extremely high standards achieved with great attention to detail in Langdale Landscapes’ Redlands Road project. One of the secrets to superior landscaping is the quality of the materials that you often can’t see. Using professional landscaping products, such as those from Growtivation’s Product That Works range, will ensure the quality and longevity of a landscaped garden.

5. How to successfully draw on international influences

Creative Landscapes clinched the prize in the hotly contested ‘Soft Landscaping’ category. All the designs in the shortlist were inspirational, providing new ideas for the wider industry to consider in their planting designs and use of lawns. But the judges particularly liked the originality in Creative Landscape’s Berkshire project as a thought-provoking scheme that resulted in a distinctive Malaysian retreat. Bringing the exotic to an urban residence, the team at Creative Landscapes introduced a fully planted garden with colour, palms, and ferns and Asian artwork that created a tropical ambience and seclusion from neighbouring buildings.

A sad footnote

On the day of the APL Awards, world-famous contemporary garden designer, John Brookes, passed away, aged 84. John was the first major independent British designer in the late 1950s and 1960s, revolutionising the approach to British garden design and shaping the industry into what it has become today.

Great landscaping starts with the right tools. Find out more about Growtivation’s Products That Work range and download our Product Guide. Or to find out where you can buy Growtivation products, visit our online Where to Buy facility or contact the team at Growtivation for advice on 0800 197 8885 or email