If you’ve ever been through the construction of a garden with NBLA, you’re likely to be familiar with Zane. Having been with us for a decade, he’s been involved with pretty much every type of landscaping project possible. This year, we are celebrating Zane’s 10th year with the company. We couldn’t ask for a more dedicated person. Zane’s commitment to achieving the high level of detail in our design has played a significant part in our success as a studio.
In his own words, Zane answers a few questions about his role over the years, and the joys and challenges that have kept him loyal to us for such an impressive stint.
What’s your role at NBLA?
As Construction Manager, I’m responsible for the implementation of our designs to bring them into fruition. There’s an immense amount of planning and preparation that goes into the construction phase and even a small design involves a combination of specialised skills and trades. Through each step of construction, I’m inspecting and evaluating the work to ensure it’s progressing as indicated in the design drawings while making sure it’s meeting the high standard of detail and workmanship synonymous with NBLA. Thankfully, I have the backing of a talented team of landscapers with great work ethics who never let me down.
Communicating regularly with builders, key consultants and clients is an essential part of my role. By keeping open and clear dialogue, we’re able to manage client expectations and bring all the elements together to realise a design as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
How has your role evolved over the past 10 years?
I started with NBLA as a qualified carpenter; building decks, screens, fences, retaining walls and pergolas. After a few years, I was given the opportunity to complete a landscape apprenticeship to broaden my knowledge. This qualification, combined with my hands-on construction experience, enabled me to progress to site manager, overseeing projects from start to finish. I loved the challenge involved with that and this passion prompted me to further my qualifications and acquire my building license.
I now manage a team of seven landscapers, four qualified and three apprentices. What I love about the NBLA crew is the boutique skillset they bring to the table to deliver such a high calibre of work.
What do you love most about your role?
I love bringing a design to life. We get presented with a set of drawings and we put in the hard yards, planting, constructing hardscapes, installing fire pits and outdoor kitchens, and generally realising every element of the design. Each project is unique, summoning a different set of requirements and challenges, which means no day is the same.
What do you find challenging about your role?
One of the greatest challenges is getting projects ‘out of the ground’. There’s a lot of prep work that goes on beneath the ground; setting foundations, earth works, footings and engineered structures, which you don’t see in the finished product.
What’s your favourite project to date and why?
I love challenging projects. We completed a project for a beautifully positioned property on the edge of a cliff overlooking Port Phillip Bay. The site’s geological characteristics on a steep hill made it one of the most challenging sites we’ve worked with. Safety was a key factor throughout each step of construction. Footings and fixtures had to be specifically engineered for a landslip zone and, because we had limited access, we had to put in the hard yards carrying materials up and down steep hills to get them where we needed them.
The finished result was breathtaking. We installed a boardwalk throughout the garden to take advantage of the stunning views. Two metres in height and with a perfect circle radius, construction of the subframes was challenging with each decking board needing to be cut into a seamless curve. The design team were able to compile some fairly sophisticated computerised drawings to provide us with exact dimensions.
What do you think NBLA offers that gives them an edge over their competition?
We take incredible pride in our work delivering stunning results with a focus on detail. We also recognise that our clients love to be involved, so we’re constantly in communication with them to incorporate their feedback and ensure they get the result they dreamed for.
What skills do you think make up a great landscaper?
An eye for detail is essential. It’s also an incredibly labour-intensive job, so strong work ethics and physical fitness are a must. Our landscapers are dedicated to getting the job done and willing to put in the hard work to make sure timelines are met. Also, with the calibre of projects we take on, there’s no such thing as shortcuts. All our landscapers are committed to delivering the highest quality of workmanship.
Where do you foresee the future of landscape design?
I think people recognise they feel happier and healthier when they spend more time outdoors. As populations increase and gardens become a rarer commodity, people will place an even higher importance on investing in outdoor places that feed their soul and spirit.
Have a garden design project you’d like to discuss with NBLA? Call the studio on 03 9095 8344?