Landscaping company's clients see behind the scenes at Olympic Park

Wetlands was the most demanding project at the Olympic Park, says Gavin Jones at client day.

Smith said the Olympic landscaping was "demanding"
Smith said the Olympic landscaping was "demanding"

Details of what it was like to landscape and maintain parts of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park were revealed at a Gavin Jones Group showcase event for clients earlier this month.

Limited time, bureaucracy, terrible weather, tricky logistics, and health and safety were all challenges for the company, which won five contracts at the site.

Visitors to the group's Surrey headquarters this month heard how it had between 5 July 2010 and March 2011 to turn a marshy former industrial wasteland into beautiful landscape.

Gavin Jones' contracts included North Park East, Wetland, Olympic Hospitality Centre and Stratford Hill.

Contracts director Andrew Smith said: "When we first got to the site it seemed huge, none of us had seen anything like it before. Fifty thousand man hours later, we realised how important it was to be part of a good team."

Smith said logistics were a challenge from the start. Deliveries had to be booked 48 hours in advance and "go into quarantine" on the M11 to be checked by security.

Once on-site, contractors had 36 hours to unload deliveries, planting one-and-a-half semi-mature trees per hour to meet the deadline.

He said the wetlands was "the most demanding project", not helped by waterlogged ground, snow and rain. "Within two weeks, it was apparent the deadlines weren't going to be met."

So the company coconut-wrapped the trees, finished in July 2011 and deferred wildflower planting until the autumn. "Expectations were demanding," Smith added.

The challenges

  • Planted 750,000 semi-mature trees, 1,100 plants, 10,000sq m of turf and 30,000 herbaceous plants at North Park (east)
  • Velodrome work, which included planting 10,000 mono-culture Hedera hibernica, was completed in eight weeks
  • Completed Athletes Village in 16 weeks, spending £100,000 a week
  • Maintenance contractors worked 12-hour day shifts and switched to night during the Games. They spent two hours a night rolling cedec
  • Used artificial turf around the hospitality suite to get around hosepipe ban
  • Health and safety training took two weeks.

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