West Yorks firm has big designs on expansion

Posted: 12.09.19

A South Pennines company is making a business out of land art and using a LEADER business grant to put it on the track to faster growth.

When Dave Burlison founded his catchily named Lawnnorder grounds maintenance company in Haworth 15 years ago he soon branched out into marking pitches for schools and sports groups.

He quickly discovered that laying out a football field is one thing, but far more complex calculations were required for an eight lane running track.

“It would take two people a full day using a tape measure, string, pegs and calculator to get it right,” said David. “It was demanding work and incredibly labour intensive. Then when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire we discovered there was also a market for land art and we marked out a dozen designs of various kinds for clients like local councils and Pennine Prospects. But the real challenge was to get everything in scale so that it looked impressive from above.”

Now using a £7,000 grant from the South Pennines LEADER Local Action Group, led by rural regeneration agency Pennines Prospects, the company has invested in state-of-the-art equipment to take ground marking into the 21st century. He continued.

“Old line markers are pretty basic bits of kit, but the new one is digitally controlled and uses GPS so there is no room for error. But it’s even more impressive than that. We can upload a land art design onto a tablet fixed atop the line marker and the technology translates the curves and lines into GPS coordinates. If you veer slightly off the required line when marking out the equipment will simply stop spraying, so it’s pretty foolproof. It does all the hard work and we can now do jobs more accurately and much quicker.”

.Dave Burlison marking out a rugby field at Queensbury using the new GPS controlled equipment.

The first test of the new equipment was translating a painting of the Brownlee brothers on bikes, which won top prize in a school competition, into a huge artwork covering most of a football field in Armley for the Tour de Yorkshire. Aside from laying out soccer and rugby pitches for the new season – they have over 40 school clients in West Yorkshire – more land art has been commissioned for the UCI World Championship cycle event coming to Yorkshire in September. The company now employs five people.

“We’ve also bought a drone with the grant and sent a staff member away for training to become a licenced operator,” adds David. “It’s the final check that everything looks okay and provides excellent imagery for marketing.”

Sally Hinton, from Pennine Prospects, said:

“This is an excellent example of how the LEADER scheme is providing a smaller company with a big boost to its capacity and effectiveness. It’s a modest grant that has made a big difference.”

Pennine Prospects was set up in 2005 to champion the South Pennines, the only upland landscape in England not designated as a national park, or area of outstanding natural beauty. The agency is spearheading an ambitious plan with partners to launch a self-declared South Pennines Park to unlock the area’s potential and promote business and cultural and natural assets.

Lawnmower art
Aerial picture of land art inspired by the Brownlee brothers created in Armley by Dave Burlison’s company.