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As we are getting close to exams, another level 3 exam question commentary
by Janet Prescott - Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 4:19 PM

a)      This one is from Garden Planning, Unit 3112, February 2019

StState THREE contributions that a pergola can make to a garden.  3 marks

b)     State ONE NAMED material that would be suitable for a pergola, giving reasons for selection by completing the table below:

Named material:

                                                             1 mark

Selection criteria





                                                             2 marks



2.                                                         2 marks



2.                                                          2 marks


This question relates to the following part of the syllabus:

Outcome 1. Understand the contribution made by hard landscaping features to garden design.

 1.1 Identify how hard landscaping features may contribute to garden design. 

This relates to both ornamental gardens open to the public and domestic gardens.

 Features to include: paths, seating areas, driveways, walls, fences, pergolas, ramps and steps, children’s play areas, rock gardens, water features, containers. 

 1.2 Describe a range of materials suitable for these hard landscape features to meet aesthetic, functional and sustainable design requirements.

Materials to include:  brick, stone, gravels, concrete, wood, bark, rubber, plastics, glass, fibre glass, metals, tarmac. 

Description of significant characteristics to include:

 - Aesthetic requirements:  colour, contrast, unity, harmony, texture;

 - Functional: soft/hard, non-slip, hard wearing, life- span, maintenance requirements, safe (e.g. free of splinters, safety glass);

 - Consider factors such as environmental sustainability, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), locally sourced, recycled, carbon footprint, reclaimed, permeability.


For part a) the examiners’ comments suggest the following as expected points:

·        Providing a sheltered or shady walkway

·        Linking different garden areas

·        A vertical design element in the garden

·        A vertical surface to grow climbers up

·        A focal point.

Make sure you include the correct number of points asked for in the question. Numbers or bullet points are useful for this. The examiners’ comments mention that some candidates confused pergola with gazebo. This would make some of the contributions incorrect. A gazebo is a garden building with open sides to provide views. A pergola is an open framework covering a walkway.

 For part b), think about the named material you are going to select before you answer. You need to make sure you can provide sufficient reasons for selecting it. The examiners’ comments point out that marks could not be awarded for any negative points or drawbacks of the materials as the question asks for reasons for selection. However, if the drawback was qualified with a positive point such as ‘wood will rot over time but if treated regularly is a long-lasting material’. It was awarded marks.

Examples of aesthetic contributions acceptable for timber were ’its rustic appearance, texture of wood grain, natural variation in material providing interest’. For metal suggestions were ‘contemporary or rustic appearance, depending on which metal mentioned, strength:size ratio meaning their frames are relatively visually permeable, allowing climbing plants to draw the eye more’.

Suggested functional reasons were ‘wood being easily sawn to correct lengths; ability to easily attach fixings for climbing plants to wood; ability to repair damaged/broken sections with relative ease compared with other materials such as metal; long-lasting nature of hardwoods and pressure treated softwoods; for metal points included their ability to be made into smooth curves; long lasting’.

Suggested functional reasons included the use of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) sourced wood, and ‘wood being ultimately compostable and not going to landfill, the ability to reuse wood’ and ‘recycling metal frames/sourcing as recycled/reused and locally sourced wood/metal having a low carbon footprint in terms of transport’.