(TOP) Ettie explains to Grandad where the perfect spot for the sunflowers is.
Lay of the Land is a small family garden centre in Settle, North Yorkshire. We believe that the connection to nature gardening brings is a powerful force for good; in both personal and societal health and wellbeing.
Lay of the Land was a long time in the making. Lay of the Land was founded in 2011, by chief gardener, managing director, dad of three and grandad, Andrew Lay. After spending over three decades with a local building society, on being made redundant, he was looking for something to do with his time. Always a keen gardener, he bought a little van and set about forming a garden maintenance business, ‘Lay of the Land – Garden Care and Design’. However, over the years he’d always played with the idea of running a garden centre, tackling the deficiencies he found in those he would visit for his lifelong hobby. So, it didn’t take long to spot an old industrial unit in Settle and decide to add a garden centre to the growing Lay of the Land ‘empire’. So, in spring 2012 ‘Lay of the Land – Garden Centre’ opened under the slogan ‘Get Excited and Grow Things’. Shortly after Carol (mum) joined the business full-time.
Since 2012 we’ve continued to develop the Garden Centre business, adding a café/coffee shop when Jimmie (the youngest of the three Lay sons) joined the business, developing our capacity to grow some of our own stock, and now we’re venturing into ecommerce.
In 2019 we closed the garden care side of the business to new customers so that efforts could be focused on the Garden Centre, and Rob (middle son) who had been working for the business since 2012 took the decision to set up on his own concentrating predominantly on landscaping work. Please enquire in-store for further details.
Over the years we have developed the garden centre to focus around a series of core values:
A garden centre's core competency should be a good selection of healthy and interesting plants.
Where we’re coming from: Too many ‘garden centres’ focus on gifts, homewares, garden furniture, bbq’s etc, forgetting to some extent what makes a garden a garden. Plants sometimes feel like an afterthought, with large volumes of the same varieties, sometimes poorly cared for, often imported from abroad where the weather conditions aren’t as harsh as the weather back home; these plants don’t always fare well when planted in uk gardens.
What we have done: We’ve always tried wherever possible to source plants grown in the UK, and a large proportion, from Yorkshire & the North West. These plants are much more likely to thrive in our climate. We source our plants from smaller suppliers who will supply smaller numbers of each variety allowing us to stock a greater range, and more unusual varieties, rather than just ‘the old favourites’. We make sure that our plants are fed, well watered and cared for throughout their time at Lay of the Land, so that plant you take home should be as healthy, if not more, than the day we received it from our supplier.
Where we’re going: We are increasing our capacity to grow our own and focusing our purchasing power on local growers. We are increasing our investment in our own growing infrastructure to enable us to grow a larger quantity of what we sell in Settle. Those plants will have less transport miles, they will be used to our climate, and they will have had less ‘stress’ in transportation. It will also allow us to stock an even greater range of plants.
(above) Jimmie draws a line along what will become a new polytunnel.
Gardens should be a force for environmental good.
Where we’re coming from: Gardens of AstroTurf and concrete give nothing to the world around them. Garden chemicals kill beneficial insects and microbes and pollute our rivers. Peat used in compost is removed from irreplaceable peat bogs, a thousand years in the making, which sequester massive amounts of carbon, far more than trees ever could. Gardens are not automatically good for nature; indeed, they remove a place where nature could be. We should support nature in our gardens and bring it back into our built environment. A good garden supports wildlife & insects, improves the world around it, and brings joy and inspiration to it's owners, neighbours and passers-by.
What we have done: For the past few years we’ve focused our efforts on building a core range of excellent quality, organic and peat free composts (with the exception of Moorland Gold, which uses peat extracted from rivers where it has been naturally washed off peat bogs). We’ve reduced our range of chemicals significantly and are focusing on our organic range, encouraging our customers to buy those wherever possible. As above we are growing more of our own plants, reducing our own carbon footprint. This allows us to reduce transport miles, reduce packaging and re-use pots and tray in the process.
Where we’re going: We plan to keep going towards a zero carbon, closed loop (where possible) business. It will take some-time but that is our direction of travel. Things we would like to implement when resources allow: Increase the range of plants and other natural products grown or produced ourselves, which includes food for our café. Produce our own compost for use in our nursery, forming a closed loop from café food to plants grown. Implement electric vehicles & on-site electricity generation. Reduce water consumption & increase the range of locally produced and environmentally friendly products.
Where we’re coming from: In a digital, big box, world where one on one advice is hard to find, we still believe in the value of knowledgeable advice on the things you buy.
What we have done: Andrew, Carol and Margaret are all very experienced gardeners with many decades of experience; there is always someone to discuss your needs with, either in-store or over the phone or email.
Where we’re going: The main issue here is maintaining a level of experienced staff and Jimmie & Becky are constantly increasing their knowledge. Becky is studying for her RHS qualifications and we encourage this for our staff wherever possible. We intend to re-boot our newsletters and increase the volume of information & project guides to help provide valuable advice as ecommerce becomes part of the business, alongside looking at how we can best offer individual advice remotely going forward.
Where we’re coming from: Built on the areas above, we don’t like cheap rubbish, that breaks straight away, or has built in obsolescence. It isn’t good for the customer, doesn’t look good on us in the long term, and comes at great environmental cost.
What we have done: We try to stock good quality product ranges, which offer good value. That means stuff that lasts, does it’s job, and isn’t overpriced. Tools wise for example, we stock Burgon and Ball with a lifetime guarantee and Gardena products with a 25-year guarantee. Likewise, by choosing plants grown here in the UK by reputable growers, they may occasionally be a little more expensive, but are much more likely to survive and flourish in the long term.
Where we’re going: Much of the same; we continue to keep our eye out for great products and will continue to evolve the ranges we carry to offer the best combination of quality and price so that you can be assured to get value for money when buying from Lay of the Land.
(ABOVE) Andrew waters the greenhouse at Lay of the Land - We are a proud supplier of Elite Greenhouses, please ask in-store or phone to discuss.