Frequently asked questions

Why hire a professional garden designer to design my garden?


Dream garden – On understanding your garden footprint, I listen closely to your ideas and aims. With great consideration to all aspects, I then deliver you a fabulous design, for a ‘beyond your dreams garden’, that you’d never have imagined possible. Technical expertise – Designing your fabulous water feature or dealing with ground level differences are just two examples where a good technical understanding is needed in the design stage and for the build cost estimates. My extensive construction and technical knowledge, is consistently applied to all my designs. As a skilled professional with an eye on the costs, my technical expertise is highly likely to save you ‘nasty’ unexpected build spend, as well as delivering a gorgeous garden. For example, if not correctly thought through at the design stage, differing ground levels may cause unforeseen additional cost later. Take the scenario of linking two terraced areas. Unless properly surveyed and considered, an unexpected need for a retaining wall at £500 per sq m could strain the budget. Also, by factoring elements like lighting and irrigation upfront, it is more cost-effective to install this at the start of a project, rather than retrofitting them once the paving and planting has already been installed.




How long does it take to for the garden to be designed?


The first stage is to have the garden surveyed which can take up to a month. Typically after the survey drawings are recieved it takes a couple of months to produce the concept plan, review, discuss and revise, and arrive at the masterplan ready to produce the tender documentation, from which the contractors build their quotes. From here, I move to the planting plans which marks the final design stage. I’d be delighted to have an initial conversation with you about your dream garden. As I have a number of active projects in the design phase, at any one time, it may just be a few weeks before you have my devoted attention for your project.




How long will it take for the garden to be built?


Good landscaping contractors tend to be booked up six months in advance, so it is important to complete the design stage efficiently, agree prices and fix your project into their schedules as early as possible. Build times on site can be anything from a few weeks, a few months or even longer, it all depends on the size and complexity of the project.




Why do I need to set a budget?


When embarking on a new garden, it is important to set a realistic budget as this will directly influence the design and choice of materials, and features included. Without this the whole process can be an upsetting waste of time and energy if the wish list of features and requirements is unachievable financially. As an investment in your property, 10-15% of its value is a good cost guide. For example, for a £350,000 home the indicative build budget is £35,000 - £52,000. In my experience, clients requesting an upgrade in the quality of the chosen finish or the addition of elements outside of the original scope, means a project is more likely to cost more than originally budgeted for.




Can we do the garden in stages?


Phasing a project is a great way of making it more affordable by spreading the costs. The phases can be designed in and contactors can price for them separately.




Our needs do not match your design packages, can they be tailored?


Absolutely, I am very happy to adapt my packages according to my clients’ needs. To add, if you are a keen plantsperson and avid gardener and want to design your planting yourself, you can.




Can you help me find someone to build my garden?


I work with a number of professionally accredited landscapers and happy to make recommendations and arrange tenders.




Does a new garden add value to my house?


It is generally acknowledged by estate agents that a well designed garden can add between 15-20% to the value of your home.




What advice do you have for choosing a garden designer?


It is important to feel a personal connection when choosing a designer. To realise your dream garden, you may be working with them for a minimum of 6 months, and for some projects several years, which means you need to establish a good working relationship built on trust. When meeting a designer, I recommend that they show examples of their work, not just images of finished gardens, AND importantly examples of the masterplan and construction drawings used to build them.




I only have a small garden. Should it cost less to design and build?


The costs are generally proportionally higher for smaller gardens and budgets, as the same number of processes need to be undertaken; and the spaces are often more complex to design due to the size and/or budget.




How much does it cost to create my dream garden?


There are two key components to this: • Garden design
• Garden creation - aka as ‘the build’ Garden design costs There are different ways of costing garden design work. Some designers will charge a percentage of the build cost, some charge an hourly rate for work done. I charge on a fixed price basis for the agreed plan, evaluating the: • Scope of the project
• Complexity of the site
• Requirements from the brief This will generally range somewhere between 10-15% of the build costs. Each design commission is individually tailored. There are many variables to factor in, as indicated further below, to create an accurate price for your dream garden. Each design commission is individually tailored. There are many variables to factor in, as indicated further below, to create an accurate price for your dream garden. Outline pricing examples Garden creation costs There are 2 distinct elements to the garden build: • Hard landscaping - paving, decking, walls, fencing, garden structures, water features, etc
• Softscaping – the planting The split of costs is roughly 80% of hard landscaping and 20% of planting, although this can vary according to the nature of the design. If the design is mainly planting and lawn areas, with minimal hard landscaping, it will cost a lot less than a garden with large amounts of hard landscaping features. The average cost per m2 of hard landscaping is around £200-250 inclusive of VAT. Factors that massively influence garden build cost include the topography with gradients and levels of the site, and critically, site access. If mini-diggers cannot access the garden, then all ground works need to be dug by hand. Labour costs then increase significantly. Location also plays a part, a garden in London will cost more to build than a garden in Wales. @dreamgarden on Instagram is a good reference for getting a feel for how much gardens cost to build. It features gardens large and small, budgets high and low, plus the build costs, m2 and build times.




I have a commercial garden design project. Is that something that you’d work on?


Absolutely, I have good experience working with developers for commercials projects. I’d love to have a call with you to understand your requirements.