Green fingers?

Gardens are often overlooked in student housing, but pleasant outdoor spaces can add so much to a property. Unipol’s Garden Competition recognises those landlords that show their gardens that little bit of extra TLC.

The winners of our Leeds and Nottingham Garden Competitions have now been announced and we wanted to share these with the students in the cities, so that those with particularly green fingers know who they might want to rent with in future.

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What are the requirements?

The main requirement for the competition is that gardens entered are compliant with the Code: that they’re free of waste and litter, boundary fences / walls are well maintained and stable, that paths to the doors of the house are in good repair and are free from obstruction. Plants and shrubs should not obstruct pavements or other areas surrounding the property.

On top of this, we’re looking for things like neatness, cleanliness and tidiness, originality, variety and colour of planting, amenities for tenants and the impact on the street scene.

Special consideration will be given to any gardens which have been significantly improved over the past two years, those gardens which have not previously been entered and those that provide an enticing social space for tenants to use.

We received many entries, those which were shortlisted were visited by the judging panel which consisted of Faye Swanwick (Unipol Student Homes) and Nina Whittaker (Leeds Beckett Students Union) in Leeds, and in Nottingham: Faye, Caroline Elmhirst, and Julie Walker (both Nottingham in Bloom). 


The winners are…

Special Commendation Gold award for most improved garden:

– Leeds –

James Saul, 43 Royal Park Avenue

This garden has undergone a full renovation from being a dull slabbed patio area. The judges thought that the added touches such as the herb garden were a great addition, and the Residents Association were particularly excited about this garden, stating “gardens in that area are generally in very poor condition and number 43 sets a new and exciting precedence to beautify the area and deserves recognition. The impact on the street is excellent. The plants and trees seem like a good range and quality, amenities are fine and we appreciate the recycling.”

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– Nottingham –

Alan Thurm, 38 Albert Road, Beeston

Alan began his work on the garden three years ago. It used to have a broken fence which encouraged a number of burglaries over the years, so the first step was to replace this with a high quality fence around the perimeter so as to make the garden more secure. The Pyracantha Firethorn hedge that also forms part of the perimeter was transported by Alan from his home in Manchester bit by bit! The prickly leaves help with security; the berries are great for the birds and the flowers are attractive too. The outdoor area was originally sloped, but has now been transformed into a lovely upper decking area with table and seating, and the lower area is partly paving and partly flower bed, for which the tenants selected their favourite plants.

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– Leeds – 

Bronze Award:

Richard Dew, 66 Newport View

There is a lawn at the front of the house with well-tended flower beds, offering colour and variety. The back garden has a patio area with seats, and a trellis arch leading to a very large lawn with a football net provided for the tenants.


– Leeds –

Silver Award:

Fran McLoughlin, 28 The Turnways

There was a driveway at the front with very neat hedges and flower beds. The rear garden was very nicely done, with a BBQ area, seating, bike storage, herbs, flower beds, pot plants and a bamboo screen. The garden has a really nice feel to it and the owners were very proud of it.

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– Nottingham –

Highly Commended for low maintenance

James Meads, 8 Thoroton Road, West Bridgford

This property is very well presented and the landlord has created a nice corner plot on the street. The new fencing area around the perimeter is extremely smart, and the neatly paved area provides a secure and welcoming garden for tenants. The outdoor area is immaculate, with the artificial turf looking fresh all year round and not a weed in sight!

8-thoroton-2– Leeds – 

Gold Award:

Dr. R. Tucker (Leeds Property Rentals) – 15 Burton Crescent

This is a large lawned and paved garden at the front of the property. The garden was very impressive and well maintained, with plenty of plants, shrubs and flowers providing lots of colour and variety. There was a seating area for students, a sculpture, bike storage and bird feeders.


– Nottingham – 

Highly Commended – Transformational Project

Bairstow Eves, 99 Harrington Drive

This property is undergoing a whole back garden renovation. What was once an overgrown jungle, trees and gross have been cleared, and two raised tiers have been created to provide flat gardens of artificial turf. The border at the back will be the ideal ares to plant shrubs or flowers, giving the garden an attractive and colourful backdrop.


Thank you to everybody who entered, and well done to the winners!

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