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Architectural Salvage

Old timers offer new character

Each garden should be individual, a reflection of the client’s personal likes and dislikes. The tricky part is how to combine that skill with a sensitive and intelligent use of materials.

Sometimes a designer just needs to be different and be imaginative whilst still caring about what materials are going to be used in the construction of the garden. In our modern throw-away society, the use of salvaged materials isn’t just big business, it’s also environmentally friendly.

There’s something magical about holding an object that has a history, like architectural salvage. They’re often real crafted items made by professional craftsmen who took a pride in their work, not simply mass produced for a cheap market. Each one tells a story. Since much of gardening philosophy is about recycling things and looking after what we already have, making use of unwanted everyday items can really give a garden character when given a little time and thought.

Old chimney pots suddenly make bold planters, slate mantelpieces can be transformed into solid seats and even discarded roof tiles can be given new lives as a path edge. For clever inspiration in a small, narrow garden, save that old kitchen door and place at the end to fool the mind into thinking the space is less enclosed than it really is.

The advantage of using old bricks as paving materials is the beautiful effect of each time-weathered surface. New materials have a habit of looking very uniform. Search out old London stock bricks for a raised bed and you instantly have a garden with a history.

One of the commonest forms of recycled timber today is the trendy railway sleeper. These chunky travelers are perfect for building cheap, low walls or steps.

There are many architectural salvage yards around Kent and London, each one offering unique items that you’ll never see in a big high street store.

Half the fun is searching out treasures to use in your own garden. The other half is letting your imagination run wild as you turn old things into new and create your own, unique piece of history.