Sowing the Seeds of Sustainability
Naas, Co. Kildare
Landscape Construction and Landscape Maintenance
Winner, Nature Conservation and Sustainability – ALCI Awards, 2022
Award of Merit, Residential Category – ALCI Awards 2022
Winner (Cairn Homes), Irish Independent Property Industry Excellence Awards – Excellence in Planning, 2019
In recent times, we’ve observed a significant shift in how some of our clients are approaching the design and construction of residential developments. Instead of simply building houses, the emphasis is now moving towards the creation of communities. Key to this is the integration of more ecological and sustainable features – and not just in the buildings themselves, but also in the landscapes they are situated in. Oak Park in Naas is a prime example of this new direction.
Constructed by Cairn Homes with landscape architecture also by Cairn Homes, Oak Park boasts impressive eco credentials. The site incorporates many green spaces for rest and recreation, but the jewel in the crown is the 2.9-hectare parkland that sits within the development and provides a wealth of landscape habitats, including woodland, meadow and wetland.
Having worked with Cairn Homes on many of their previous developments, we were invited to undertake the soft landscaping for this exciting new project.
We worked in partnership with the client to complete the landscaping of the entire site under a tight schedule. Deliverables included the cultivation and seeding of lawns; preparation of planting areas; wildflower planting; the establishment of grassland meadows; tree, shrub and hedge planting to ensure year-round appeal and biodiversity; aquatic planting; bark mulching and the installation of fencing, grasscrete parking spaces and amenity areas.
The vision for the park was to create a semi-natural landscape that promotes biodiversity and requires limited maintenance. We sourced and planted over 3,300 native trees and shrubs for the park, which, when fully mature, will echo the oak woodlands that once covered the plains of Kildare. As well as being a practical response to the steep nature of the site, and providing a natural corridor between the town and countryside, the woodland will sustain a wide range of invertebrates, birds and mammals, like bats, badgers, field mice and rabbits.
With sustainability at the heart of the project, our solutions took account of the client’s ecological objectives. We used native hedge and tree species across the site and incorporated a natural floor within the woodland. Every autumn, when we mow the wildflower meadows, the cuttings are spread across the woodland to further promote seed distribution. We protected the watercourse with native wetland planting and put measures in place, like natural chestnut fencing, to safeguard the existing mature trees. Wildflower meadows, natural grasslands and the planting of ornamental areas were also designed to attract pollinators.
The landscape design balances nature and man-made features to form a harmonious environment that encourages well-being. We developed engagement and wellness spaces throughout the park, with pathways, kickabout areas, a playground, seating and places to explore all incorporated within the scheme. A greenway linking residents to Naas town centre was also integrated into the park, providing a natural connection to the existing green spaces along the Broadfield stream.
Since completing the landscaping, our team continues to provide maintenance services for the parkland – though, in line with the original concept, these are only ‘light touch’ in scope. The success of Oak Park demonstrates that, with progressive thinking and sensitive design, we can build responsible, sustainable communities that give back to our environment. We believe that this new approach will soon become the norm for residential developments in Ireland – creating better spaces for us all.
Oak Park won a special award at the 2022 ALCI Awards under the ‘Nature Conservation and Sustainability’ category, along with an ‘Award of Merit’ in the Residential category.
“Working with the team at SAP Landscapes on the Oak Park project was a pleasure. They understood our vision from the get-go, and the knowledge and the expertise they brought to the project was immense in delivering this award-winning project”.