It’s almost a miracle to see beautiful gardens, parks and wonderful landscapes in the Middle East countries. If we try to sum up landscaping, it is actually the process of arranging soil, water plants, and structures to develop a space with a particular tone or appearance. It involves exterior works and gardening in both residential and non-residential buildings and parks through the process systematic irrigation system and planting of trees, flowers, shrubs, grasses, water bodies, walkways, pavements and drainage. But the million-dollar question is how did this all happen? Particularly in desert countries where the native xerophytic plants are few! Climatic conditions are harsh with scorching heat and no rains! Soils are sandy and infertile, and irrigation water is scarce.
Syed Abdul Haleem, Division Manager, MBM Landscaping Division answers this, “What made the difference were the professional architects and horticulturists who were engaged to transform the landscape. Appropriate soil amendments and a wide array of ornamental plants were introduced and acclimatized, modern irrigation systems were installed; water regimes were regulated and networked. These systematic efforts resulted in the profound success. There are umpteen challenges faced while laying out gardens. Number of factors such as selection of appropriate plants, hardscape features, water features, garden furniture, garden lightings, and equipment are systematically considered. Apart from these, the agro – climatic factors are kept in mind. One of the most serious limiting factors in undertaking large scale landscaping projects is paucity of irrigation water.”
Haleem futher adds, “Apart from acute shortage of irrigation water, even the cost of designing, layout and maintenance of gardens, is prohibitive. In Gulf countries, where there is total absence of natural vegetation, it is a real challenge to design and lay-out aesthetically appealing, functionally appropriate gardens. It becomes imperative those landscaping and facility maintenance service providers are involved at the design stage to ensure efficiency, ease of management and long-term savings.”
Business Development & Contracts
Manager, MAB Facilities Management
Challenges in the area of landscaping
Proper distribution of water for all areas and all species with limited quantity is certainly an important area of concern for the managers. Ashok Mathew, Business Development & Contracts Manager, MAB Facilities Management, says, “There are various irrigation techniques that can be used better landscaping and water conservation. Effective irrigation program and automation can assist in reducing water wastage. Use of waste generated from cutting plants and trees for soil treatment will reduce evaporation from soil trapping moisture leading to low water consumption. One can also rely on use of water features in landscaping to increase water availability. Yet another important thing is to use plants and trees that can attract birds that will assist in indirect fertilizer for soil.”
Rajwal Afridi, a Landscape Engineer from ServeU Facilities Management, shares, “Computer Controlled CCU systems are used for more convenient and better operation, which could give proper water distribution and can be controlled easily. They can
be programmed for irrigation which depend on the timings of the day, seasons and weather. Some systems even sense the weather conditions and react accordingly.”
Skilled workers are the main concern in a landscape maintenance company, as they are giving the final output and image for the landscaping.
Workers who are trained in machine operation bring perfection to the final output. And by adding more machines one can even reduce the man-hours. Those workers with a background in horticulture should be recruited and they should be regularly trained in modern horticultural methods and processes.
What needs to be done
Sustainability is the keyword everywhere. Similarly in landscaping, it’s important for managers to make the process more sustainable during the design process itself.
Afridi adds, “Sustainability forms the core part of our practices. In landscaping, it’s important to have the right selection of trees and shrubs, which could withstand the high temperature, experienced in the Gulf area and which will consume less amounts of water; selecting the appropriate trees, which give good shade and will leave less garbage, so that the maintenance will be very easy; also adding ground cover with plants instead of small shrubs, which could withstand the high temperatures more. Proper waste disposal of the grass and foliage cuttings in the appropriate area, without any delay is another integral part of the procedure.“
Water conservation is another matter of concern for the FM managers. There are many ways, which could help in achieving this. For example, using more clay in the soil, this could retain more water and thus increase water conservation.
Mixing water retention material with the soil mix, at the time of plantation is another practice commonly used. Also, adding wood mulch to the exposed soil areas helps to reduce weeding and to reduce evaporation of water from the soil.