Biophilia is a term popularized by Harvard University myrmecologist (the study of ants) and conservationist E.O. Wilson, who over the past quarter century have observed how humans seem to possess a hard-wired need to connect with living nature. Biophilic design has been described as a design strategy aimed at reconnecting urban residents and workers with the living natural environment.
Today, the greening of the urban environment is recognised as a major contributor to regeneration schemes aimed at improving biodiversity and ecosystems in towns and cities, and support for biophilic design is growing.
The renaissance of public parks and gardens
Public gardens and parks, formerly objects of civic pride to the Victorians and Edwardians but suffering dilapidation during the latter half of the 20th century, are enjoying major restorations and upgrades. In many instances a lost prosperity has returned to neglected parts of town, with biophilic design bringing benefits that include improved health and wellbeing, better stormwater management that has reduced flooding, and even lower crime rates.
There has also been a greater public awareness of environmental sustainability, and this is influencing the materials now being used in public space regeneration projects. Take for example the edging of paths, lawns and planted borders.
The painful evolution of landscape edging
For many years, our love affair with concrete extended to edging products. It provided a strong, durable, rot-resistant alternative to timber, and we chose to ignore its drawbacks in the way that lovers are blind to each other’s foibles. We knew that it is expensive and time-consuming to lay, that it is prone to crack with frost and that it can cause unsightly grass die-back around the edges of grassed areas.
We briefly flirted with plastic – did we really believe that plastic could solve everything? – but soon found that while it was cheap, it looked cheap too. Fading and brittle from sunlight, it became a symbol of our broken dreams.
Our early enthusiasm for all things natural drew us back to timber, but this time it wasn’t flimsy strips of pressure-treated softwood that caught our attention. We chose the masculine solidity of virtuously recycled railway sleepers, but when these began to weep with carcinogenic tar that permanently stained clothing and contaminated the soil, we turned instead to newly-felled alternatives.
Landscape edging sorely needed a viable alternative, so when Kinley launched its revolutionary aluminium edging it was enthusiastically received, and for good reasons:
Landscape edging sorely needed a viable alternative, so when Kinley launched its revolutionary aluminium edging it was enthusiastically received, and for good reasons
Made from recycled, 100% recyclable aluminium and needing no concrete base or haunching to install it ticks all the boxes for environmental sustainability
It is a rot-free, corrosion resistant and very low-maintenance product
Its light weight and helical spike fixing system mean it is easily and quickly installed (up to 75% reduction in installation time and with no delay between installing and backfilling with hard or soft landscaping products)
Its narrow profile means it is a discreet, almost invisible barrier that doesn’t detract from its natural surroundings
Although sturdy enough to withstand garden maintenance machinery, it is also flexible and can be used to add sweeping curves to paths and planted beds
Without the acidic content of concrete or the reduction of soil depth caused by haunching, grass dieback is a shadow from the past
The edging for all seasons
Following the success of its pioneering product, Kinley has developed a wider range of landscape edging products with something for every possible application. Manufactured in high-grade aluminium or steel, with untreated, galvanised, CorTen (weathering steel) and RAL colour-matched powder coated finishes to choose from, the range covers everything from lawn edging to road kerbing.
Its detractors point to the higher material costs of metal edging, but this is a very short-term, blinkered view. When the full costs of installation are factored into the equation the difference is negligible, and the long-term benefits of metal edging – longer product lifespan with reduced risk of damage, easier sectional replacement and full end-of-life recyclability – make Kinley's ExcelEdge products the hands-down winner.