Discover how Artisan Landscapes made full use of our bespoke stone service to create this stunning scheme in Somerset, winning them a prestigious APL award. 

“This has been our largest and most complicated project to date,” says Landscaping Director Will Cooke. He’s speaking of Ridgeview, Long Ashton, Somerset, an extraordinary design-and-build which made his company, Artisan Landscapes, the 2019 APL Awards’ Winner in the £100,000 - £200,000 project category.

Artisan's use of several different material textures and colours adds to the overall aesthetic. Credit: Finn P Photography

Not least of the challenges was the restricted access to the site, which had a steep 5.5m fall. Two hundred and fifty tonnes of spoil had to be removed down a single-track private driveway. “It was incredibly difficult to access,” says Will. “The house was on the high side of the landscape and everything at the bottom had to be raised up to the top to be taken away down the drive. There was a Tree Preservation Order on a large tree with low branches, so no lorries over 7.5 tonnes could be taken in. We offloaded 150 metres away on the main road and then loaded onto smaller vehicles.”

As a result of the difficult access, all waste had to be removed in skips. “We were working against the landscape,” he adds.

Changing levels and challenging access were just two of the obstacles that the team from Artisan faced. Credit: Finn P Photography

The end result, however, is a garden that looks totally at home. It complements the house in materials and colour, spilling down the south-facing hillside, offering stunning views of the Somerset countryside.

Not surprisingly, steps feature strongly and Beige Sawn Sandstone was the chosen material. “The client wanted a very sleek, modern pale stone,” says Will, “as light as possible and as uniform a colour as possible, without markings. They also wanted a soft finish to blend with the render and white paint of the walls of the house.”

For detail, Will plumped for a bullnose profile. “The steps are one of the main features, adding substance to the garden, so we wanted a strong profile with a classic feel.”

A sleek bullnose edge complements the Beige Sandstone steps, available off the shelf. Credit: Finn P Photography

Beige Sawn Sandstone is one of our most popular stones, especially for contemporary settings, and is part of our wide range of natural stone available off the shelf in three widths: 900x600mm, 600x600mm and 600x400mm. Due to its popularity, Beige Sawn Sandstone is also available as planks at 900x200mm and 600x200mm and in a stunning large format of 1800x700mm.

This build, however, combined the standard step lengths with a bespoke element as the treads needed to be slightly shallower, so we narrowed them by slicing off some of the back edge before pre-sealing. The main steps, which have a 2.5m fall, measure 2m wide, with the flights lower down the garden narrowing to 1.5m and then 1 metre wide, where they drop down to the brick paths and wooden raised beds of the vegetable garden.

Providing a perfect contrast to the Cor-Ten retaining walls. Lush planting completes the stunning look. Credit: Finn P Photography

“This was our first project using steps, and our first using London Stone’s bespoke service,” explains Will. “They had a fantastic relationship to the project. They were flexible and on-hand, delivered what was requested. They also advise on the best way to do a job and where money can be saved.”

Other materials included permeable resin-bound surfacing, chosen partly on the grounds of cost but also because of the importance of dealing with run-off, which would have been considerable. Paving the entire area would have required substantial drainage works.

Cor-Ten steel cladding echoed the colouring of local materials in walls, resin-bound surfacing and fencing and provided an ultra-modern contrast with the steps. While Ardex FL was used to grout the steps, a silicone grout was required where the sandstone met the Cor-Ten cladding. “We were advised to use this due to the metal expanding in high temperatures and contracting,” explains Will. “It’s been a huge learning curve, the whole project.”

Bringing the modern aesthetic, the Beige steps work in harmony with the house itself. Credit: Finn P Photography

Artisan Landscapes are dedicated to using, not only expertly crafted materials, but also those that are sustainable. This contributed to their decision to use London Stone. “Even though it’s horticulturally orientated, as with any construction, there’s impact of the carbon footprint, ethics, quarrying, sourcing - we use a lot of cement, concrete and there’s plastic waste. It’s great to be able to use a supplier that’s ethically and environmentally conscious and have confidence in their approach and their impact on the local areas of production.”

The result, as we’re sure you’ll agree, is stunning. From above, it’s clear that the choice of beige sawn sandstone not only punctuates the start of the different sections of the garden but also creates a design link as you descend through the levels.

The scheme blends modern simplicity with period features perfectly. Credit: Finn P Photography

“The project was scheduled for four months originally,” says Will, “but went to six months as the scope of the work expanded as the project went on and the clients realised they wanted extra areas and various bits.” It took place across the winter months.

We were so impressed, we featured Will’s APL award-winning build in our 2019 brochure. “To have recognition from London Stone as well as the APL award makes this a very rewarding project.” says Will.

Many congratulations to Will and all the team at Artisan Landscapes on their APL Award and for making such a success of such a unique project. “The challenge was worth it,” says Will, and we don’t think anyone can disagree with that!