Q Lawns have been supplying landscapers and garden centres with turf, topsoil, sedum matting and wild flowers for two decades. Angela Lambert gives us an insight into what to expect from this dynamic company in 2013 and beyond.
The firm will be celebrating 20 years of trading in 2013 and are planning a year-long celebration with price-deals, competitions, charity fundraising and the launch of their 20/20 alliance scheme.
The turf is grown just outside the village of Hockwold in Norfolk as just one of the crops on a thriving agricultural unit. The farm (also known as Shrubhill Farms) began life in 1949 when previously waterlogged land was drained by the War Ags and brought into production. In the 1980’s, as well as growing cereals, potatoes and sugar been, the farm boasted a dairy farm and a pig unit. Towards the end of that decade, livestock farming became unprofitable and the decision was taken to diversify from pigs and dairy into turf production.
A change in land-use though, meant a career change for several staff. Readers of The Landscaper who have visited Q Lawns over the years may remember Brian Walker (pictured right) and Martin Touchin working on the turf harvesting field…Both of these fellows worked in the dairy, Martin has retired now, but Brian is still our Harvest and Despatch Manager.
Another recycled livestock manager is Chris Carr. (pictured left) Previously the producer of prize-winning pigs, Chris is of course our Sales and Marketing Manager and has recently taken on role of BALI Chairman.
I joined the Company in January 1996. I have fond memories of dropping my youngest child off for his first day at school and then skipping down the path before driving to my first day at work. That was the child that only last month graduated from University. How time flies.
In those early days, turf was harvested in square yards by a 3-man team on a Brauer harvester. Today, everything but the big roll is harvested by a massive machine that can cut, roll and stack turves in less than half the time of the old system.
Indoors, we have also embraced technology. Seventeen years ago, my job was to take orders, talk to the field, arrange haulage and then hand-write the delivery notes and invoices, calculating prices and adding VAT as I went along. I wouldn’t be able to do that now…, our customer base and the number of products we supply is vastly bigger than it was in those days. As I write, there are three ladies and one gentleman in the next room who do a fantastic job of looking after customers- far better than I ever did.
I’m proud to be able to say though, that all these years on; even though we’ve lost some of those original customers – (some have retired, some have moved or taken their careers in another direction, and sadly a couple of them have passed away) – there are healthy number of turf buyers who have been Q Lawns customers for a good many of our 20 years’ worth of trading.
Q Lawns have never been stick-in-the-muds as far as new products are concerned. On the farming side of the business we’ve seen some interesting crops come and go…angelica to flavour gin and hemp to insulate car doors are just two of the quirky crops that come to mind. The same innovative attitude applies to the horticultural crops too.
There’s big roll turf of course; brilliant for making large lawns in a very short period of time. Q Lawns’ own Gerald Moulding created the big roll laying trollies that we regularly lend to contractors who want to save labour and machinery costs; and then there are the other, more floral products that Q Lawns have helped to develop and bring to market this millennium.
Enviromat sedum matting was first launched in May 2003 at the Landscapex Show. Enviromat is a really good groundcover material but its primary use is for green roofing. Back in 2003, the UK green roof industry was in its infancy. Now, it’s booming with living roofs appearing on all sorts of buildings from vast warehouses to compact garden offices. It took a little while for the concept of putting plants on a roof to be accepted and then embraced but now the advantages of having a living roof are well understood. I like to think that Enviromat helped that process along a bit.
The most recent product to be launched by Q Lawns is Meadowmat wild flower matting. The whole of our farm – even the food crops and the road verges – is managed with wildlife in mind and this Meadowmat fits perfectly with our ethos of maintaining and improving biodiversity. Besides planting trees and hedges, minimising chemical usage and protecting waterways on the farm, we have an ongoing program of introducing nest boxes and creating wildlife corridors wherever possible.
What can we expect from Q Lawns in the future? Well, I can’t give too much away at this stage but if you’re interested in wildflowers and biodiversity, watch this space. Certainly in our anniversary year there are going to be some interesting offers and events. They’ll of course be talked about in The Landscaper, but if you’re technology minded, you might want to “like” our facebook page and follow @ladylawn on twitter to make sure you don’t miss out.