AT THE age of 26, some young people are still finding their feet in the workplace... but not Andy Stedman.
Green-fingered Andy has reached the final of the Garden Design of the Year Competition, joining three other finalists at the Grand Designs Show Live in London this weekend
Judged by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and celebrity garden designer James Alexander-Sinclair, Andy is understandably thrilled.
“I watch Grand Designs on a weekly basis – it’s one of my favourite programmes so I’m very excited.
“It’s a great opportunity for me as I aim to do design full-time – that’s where my passion lies.”
Andy was born in Chichester and has always been passionate about garden and landscape design.
He completed an apprenticeship locally, amassing an impressive nine years of experience which has taken him across the globe to Australia and Dubai.
He is currently finishing his training at the renowned Oxford College of Garden Design and has his own studio in Chichester where he designs residential and commercial projects.
Andy applied for the competition after an extension to the deadline was announced on Twitter and was shortlisted for an interview.
He made it through to the final stage after sending the organisers a sketch plan and 3D model of his idea and has had only two months to finish his impressive design.
The young designer says much of his inspiration has come from his travels abroad. He believes living for two years in Dubai gave him a huge creativity boost which showed him the range of designs and materials available to him.
“It’s definitely given me a design advantage,” he said.
Following an open-ended brief that stated the garden must follow the Grand Designs ethos to display ‘contemporary style, inspirational, ethical and environmental responsibility’, Andy decided to follow a theme of ‘up-cycling’ with a low maintenance garden that is eco-friendly.
“Up-cycling uses materials that wouldn’t often be re-used again,” Andy says.
With a mix of scaffold poles, recycled wood decking, timber fencing and metal sheeting, his passion for using materials that would usually be scrapped is clear.
“I wanted to think outside the box further and do something a bit wacky, hopefully that’s something I have achieved.
“I’m of the generation that needs to start thinking about being more considerate of the environment.”
Andy is also keen to help businesses in the local area, and has sourced all his materials from established companies he has heard of in the industry or those he already has a working relationship with.
Both Covers Timber and Builders Merchants and the Aldingbourne Trust have helped provide supplies for his garden, while parts of his water feature were supplied by a company in Portsmouth. He sourced plants from Brickhill nursery as well as an established nursery in Aldingbourne.
Andy stressed that finding recycled materials isn’t harder than sourcing materials produced en-masse, but ties with local businesses have helped.
“The materials are all available. It’s just a matter of finding and sourcing them.”
Working relationships are something Andy takes seriously, refusing to hand his clients’ designs over to a contractor, instead preferring to follow a job through personally.
His dedication and passion to his job will undoubtedly help as he looks to the future.
Aside from building his reputation locally he hopes to enter even bigger competitions.
“Chelsea’s my dream,” he admitted.
When asked about his own garden, however, he laughed and said it could only be called ‘half decent!’, adding: “It needs some work.”
But with a line of projects in the pipeline, including a new website for which he is currently drawing designs, Andy’s garden might have to wait a while.
Want to go to the Grand Designs Show, at the Excel in London, next weekend?
We’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away - one pair for each lucky winner. Each ticket is valid for one day only until Sunday, May 12.
To enter, simply email email@example.com giving your name, address and daytime phone number, and putting Grand Designs in the subject line.
Entries to be received by midnight on Wednesday, May 8. Only the winners will be contacted. All entries will then be destroyed.