10 things you never knew about ‘Grand Designs’

Who is the Hollywood mega-fan of Grand Designs? 10 things you never knew about TV’s favourite home show.

Presented by designer and writer Kevin McCloud, the British television series Grand Designs, each episode, follows different people who have set out to pursue their vision of a dream home by building it themselves.

We take a look at some interesting facts about this innovative show:

  1. Each episode of Grand Designs takes at least a year to film. However, one build took 10 years.
  2. Presenter Kevin McCloud has never seen a fully finished episode as he refuses to watch himself on TV.
  3. McCloud often improvises his famous monologues on the day of filming.
  4. He was a member of the famous Cambridge Footlights drama society alongside Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.
  5. He is a trained building historian and works part-time for the Society of the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He founded his own architectural consultancy HAB in 2007 (the initials stand for Happiness, Architecture, Beauty).
  6. 2019 will see the 20th anniversary of the inaugural episode of Grand Designs.
  7. McCloud was diagnosed with asthma at age 16 and is about to present the show’s first ‘healthy house’.
  8. In Germany the show is called Der Weg Zum Traumhaus, which translates to The Road To A Dream House.
  9. McCloud has only ever visited Ikea once. He bought a rug.
  10. Meryl Streep is a self-confessed Grand Designs “addict”.

10 tips for springtime landscaping

The countdown to spring is well and truly on, making now the ideal time for landscaping your outdoor areas for warmer temperatures and flourishing garden spaces.

Landart Landscapes’ Matt Leacy shares his top 10 landscaping tips for spring 2018 – advice to not only get your outdoor spaces looking and functioning great for spring, but summer as well.

  1. Spring clean

Coming out of winter, it’s important to clean up the garden to get it in the best condition possible. This means removing any fallen leaves and thatch, and thoroughly weeding and pruning. Get on top of pesky weeds sooner rather than later as hotter temperatures help to stimulate weed-growth. And make sure you remove weeds from their roots so that they don’t grow back and seed.

  1. Pruning is key

Pruning comes next. It’s an important part of the process because it helps to ensure that existing plants grow anew in spring. Trim back any hedges or early shrubs that have finished flowering, and also dispose of any dead or diseased branches.

  1. Love your lawn

Spring is also the time to get your lawn looking green again. It’s important to remove thatch and aerate the lawn to let the roots get as much water and nutrients as possible – and then spread some course sand or top dressing soil over it. Fertilise your lawn now with something high in nitrogen (preferably organic) and water in well. This will be taken up by your lawn and will enhance its green and lushness.”

  1. Mulch is your mate

It’s also important to apply some high-nitrogen organic fertiliser to both your lawns and garden beds. Mulching is a must-do in spring, as it lays the groundwork for your soil to retain and conserve moisture in the summer months – as well as reducing weeds.

  1. Spring is for planting

Spring is the optimal season to plant cuttings or sew seeds – you can be a lot more creative and your range of potential planting choices opens up significantly. You can plant perennials and annuals, and you’ll have the time needed to properly establish plantings and let them settle before summer hits. Your choice of plantings should depend largely on your property’s individual aesthetic and vibe, but given that Australia is currently officially in drought, you’d be smart to consider the level of water and maintenance your plantings will need in order to survive the summer heat.

  1. Water-wise gardening

With drought conditions in many parts of Australia, there’s a chance we’ll see official water restrictions come into play during spring. Last time we had water restrictions, drip-line irrigation systems were permitted – and this is one of the most efficient ways of getting water into your garden.

  1. Pool preparation essentials

Spring is also the ideal time to start get the pool swim-ready for the warmer months. The first key thing to do will be to check the water’s pH levels. A pool’s pH level should always sit somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8, and it’s easy and cheap to monitor the pH level using a store-bought testing kit. It’s also worth checking that your pool’s filtration system is working properly.

  1. Go Alfresco

Spring is the perfect time to get your outdoor spaces optimised for living, relaxing and entertaining. Think about how you can make the most of your outdoor areas as the weather heats up – whether it’s through an outdoor kitchen, installing some patio furniture or even an outdoor lounge room with some shade or cover.

  1. Cover up

It’s no secret that Australia has some of the harshest sun in the world, making the need for outdoor shade and cover critical – especially in spring and summer. If you haven’t got a lot of natural shade in your outdoor spaces, there are plenty of relatively low-cost man-made options on the market that can provide cover not only in the warmer months, but autumn and winter as well.

  1. Spring trends

Moving into spring, we’ll likely continue to see lots of texture in landscaping design – plenty of timber and different stones, especially in flooring. I also expect to see further uptake in smaller textured tiles. Spring will also likely herald lots of creativity and diversity in terms of finishes, shapes and sizes – think cobblestones and mixing of linear lines with rounded shapes. I’d also predict we’ll see continuing popularity in concrete finishes – across pools, seating, flooring and barbeques.