Soft Landscaping, Polden Bower School

Polden Bower School
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Polden Bower School | 2020 - 2021 | Bridgwater

Polden Bower School

idverde was recently contracted to construct and maintain all of the soft landscaping and green spaces on the grounds of Polden Bower School

idverde was recently contracted to construct and maintain all of the soft landscaping and greenery on the grounds of Polden Bower School, an all-age special school that caters for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. The idea behind the project was that the area would interest the pupils by creating stimulation using colour, smell, shape, feel and sound to encourage pupils to explore and sense the grounds around them.

As well as allowing pupils to explore their senses, sensory gardens provide therapeutic benefits. They are also very beneficial for children with sensory processing issues, such as autism, and attention disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Main Challenges

As this was a school catering to children of all ages, it was important to ensure the landscaping design had no sharp corners or humps and bumps and kept to a different levels to a minimum. All plants were also to be less than the height of the pupils to prevent them from being hidden from view during break times. When planning the project, we ensured that it had a safe and flowing design to allow pupils to experience the area without any risk of harm. 

Additionally, the main area of inclusion for the pupils was fenced into sections, to allow pupils to play in relative safety in their specific areas. This meant that maintenance of these areas had to be actioned when the pupils were not outside playing.

One solution was to work with the headteacher and client to maintain some areas out of normal working hours and to divide the site up into red, amber and green areas where work can be carried out at specific times, with as little disturbance to the pupils as possible. 

The Result

A key focus of the project was to improve biodiversity and help with the regeneration of a naturalised community, so we used rich flora and fauna to encourage wildlife to thrive in the environment. We used trees such as Crataegus Monogyna (Hawthorn) Fraxinus Excelsior (Ash) Betula Pendula (Birch) and Ilex Aquifolium (Holly), which all provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies, moths and insects.

We planted Salix (Willow) trees in areas where pupils walk and play as they are more sturdy and provide a visual stimulant to pupils as they have coloured stems in the winter months. We also planted grass plants that are well suited to a sensory garden, as they flow in the wind, sound like rustling fields, have different shades of leaf and flower spikes in the autumn, are relatively low maintenance and long-lasting.

Additionally, the garden is managed on a long grass maintenance programme which is cut once per year. After three to five years, the area should become self-sufficient and replenish biocultural specimen plants to allow all species of natural flora and fauna to thrive.