What does a garden design include?
Following a detailed survey and analysis of the site, mood boards and 3D visuals are used as a discussion tool and to give an early insight into the visual direction of the design. Once this stage is complete, a master layout plan is drawn up and will provide you with a scaled complete layout of all the areas agreed in the design brief, showing locations of all hard and soft landscape surfaces, with details of materials and features. The plan may also include locations of key plants such as trees, hedges and topiary, and is annotated with a description of what that item is or could be. From here, a landscaping contractor should be able to quote for the build of the garden.
Who builds / landscapes the garden?
You may wonder what the difference is between a designer and a landscaper? To use an analogy, if you were building a house, the designer is the architect and the landscaper the builder. Garden designers have a trained eye for design aesthetics and are experts in combining colours, shapes and textures of both hard landscaping and soft landscaping elements. They will have an appreciation of current design trends in terms of both materials and plants and they should have excellent plant knowledge. Landscapers are the experts in the installation of the design – from clearing and preparing soil to building the garden including elements such as paths, beds, lawns, terraces, pergolas, water features and the like. You will need to instruct a landscape contractor to oversee the installation of your garden. Contractors who are accredited and approved by the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) or those registered with the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) are a good place to start. I have various contacts with whom I can put you in touch.
How many meetings / site visits should I expect?
I may visit site several times over the course of the process. This includes the initial consultation, the site analysis and any other visits required to produce the the best outcome for your garden. I am happy to attend meetings on site with various contractors. In fact, it is often a good idea for the designer to meet landscapers in the early stages of the design process to assess feasibility and get an idea of build costs. Once the design stage is complete, it is often a good idea to invite the designer along to a meeting with you and your contractor to discuss the build and at the construction phase to ensure the contractors understand the design fully.
How long does a garden design take?
It is difficult to be precise as a design depends on many factors including the size and complexity of the site. Designing a garden is a collaborative process between client and designer. The number of meetings required, revisions and discussions with specialists and contractors will all influence the design timescale. If surveyors are required to conduct a full topographical survey or if there are any issues surrounding planning consent or the need for environmental reports these too will all have an impact upon how long it takes to complete the design.
How much will it cost to have my garden designed and built?
Hiring a designer can help you get the best out of your garden and maximise your space. They can also save you from making costly mistakes. Setting a realistic budget is really important at the outset. A well designed garden provides much pleasure and can increase the value of your property, so it’s therefore worth setting a budget of between 5% and 10% of the value of your property to spend on having your new garden designed and built. Factors such as the complexity of the design, machine access, levels, drainage, amount and type of hard landscaping plus the size, maturity, planting density and growth rates of plants will all influence the cost. There is no one size fits all price. For small projects up to £15,000, the cost of hiring a designer can represent around 18% of your budget whereas for a medium project costing £50,000 or more, this figure may drop to around 15%. This is likely to drop further for projects in excess of £100,000.
It is not possible to give an estimate without visiting the garden and meeting with you to discuss what is required, however after the initial visit, you will receive a written quotation. This will be in the form of a fixed fee and /or an hourly rate and will cover the parts of the design process that you have agreed in the design brief. Additional services can be added on if required. Fees are based on guidance from the Society of Garden Designers of which I am a pre-registered member.
Is it possible to pay for a design without having the garden built?
Definitely! Some clients wish to build their gardens themselves over time and others want to wait before they bring in landscapers. Whatever your situation, a garden design can save the kinds of costly mistakes made when a garden is developed bit by bit. It will ensure that the garden flows well and that all parts work together to make a whole. It’s really important that a house sits well in the space that surrounds it and that the mood you want is created by the layout, materials and planting in the garden. A design will help you achieve that.