Nathan Burkett is the director of NBLA, an award-winning landscape architecture studio based in Hawthorn, Melbourne. Nathan is a qualified Landscape Architect with over two decades’ experience.
Here, Nathan shares his love for landscape design and why genuinely great gardens require a smart approach to garden maintenance.
Hi Nathan, firstly tell us how NBLA tend to get involved with a project.
Typically, the earlier we can get involved with a project, the better. This is especially relevant if clients are having their property renovated or designed from scratch by a landscape architect, because we can make recommendations that complement the architectural and interior design of a property.
Firstly, we meet with a new client and discuss the outcomes they’d like to achieve from their garden or outdoor space. We explore the landscape and architectural opportunities presented by the site and identify the practical elements for our clients; do they have children? Do they like to entertain outdoors? Do they want to incorporate a swimming pool / outdoor kitchen / grill etc.
Using this information, we start to prepare an initial design concept.
Why Design and Maintenance go hand-in-hand
When we create a design, the longevity of a garden consumes a large part of our thought process. We have to consider how a design will evolve over time, because gardens tend to look very different once they are fully established.
Low maintenance gardens are an extremely common request. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as ‘no maintenance’ because plants are living, evolving organisms. But there are things we can do to make a garden easier to maintain such as the selection, allocation and care of plants etc.
We always try to consider the financial burden garden maintenance can put on a client over time and design in a smart way balancing spaces and plants to achieve the look we want, while minimising the level of care.
There are also practical considerations; if trees grow too close to pool fencing, for example, they can make the swimming pool barrier non-compliant. We use plants appropriate to their application and consider their long-term maintenance needs, such as which trees need to be pruned a certain way to achieve a specific effect five-ten years down the track.
Why do you love working with Botanic Horticulture?
They offer a level of service that reflects well on our business. In this industry, it’s easy for anyone to start a gardening business and the market is flooded with unqualified gardeners lacking horticultural knowledge. Every one of the gardeners at Botanic Horticulture have qualifications and a passion for what they do, so we know they will offer the horticulture perspective and professionalism our gardens need.
Customers often tell us they’ve been disappointed in the past by other gardeners. They show up sporadically when it suits them, and clients don’t know when to expect them. Garden Maintenance requires a strategic approach and Botanic do this really well. They offer a tailored maintenance plan that takes both client and garden needs into account. And because they have a reasonably large team, our gardens are never under-serviced. Together, we create a plan and Botanic execute that plan on a systematic basis.
They also allocate the same team to each garden, so clients have the one point of call. That team get to know the garden and the client’s wishes. They become passionate about it. When it comes to gardening, achieving results can be a slow process, so you need long-term commitment by the same gardeners.
Lastly, Botanic have an excellent administrative department with strong office support who attend to us quickly and positively, every time. It’s a win-win all round.