When you first consider having your garden designed you’re probably wondering how much this is going to cost and whether it’s something you can really afford! I have spoken to lots of people over the years and they all ask me, ‘So how much does it cost to have your garden designed?’
It’s a great question. Let’s face it, who wants to agree to having any work done in their home or garden only to discover that the cost turns out to be much more than expected? Your garden is something that you will be looking at and enjoying for many years to come, so it is essential that you have an idea of how much the project will cost before you begin.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
So, let’s look at the costs and pro and cons of having your garden professionally designed and then you will be able to make the best decision for you.
The things to think about when you’re considering having this work done is what do you want from your garden? Realistically how much do you have to spend achieving this? A good garden designer will come out for an initial consultation. During that time they will assess the site and go into detail about how you want to use the space. How much you have to spend should be one of their questions. This is not to try and take advantage of you financially but simple to gauge if you can afford the kind of garden you are asking for and give you good advice on how best to proceed.
Costs for an initial consultation which lasts about 1.5- 2 hours varies in cost. The cost of this according to a number of factors including travel time. When you first make contact with a garden designer ask how much if anything this initial consultation will cost. If you’re unhappy with the answer you get then asking the question has not cost you anything.
I should mention at this stage, that after an initial consultation with prospective clients where I can advise them on roughly how much they will need as a budget for what they want, there is no obligation for them to take things any further. So for often a very modest amount of money around £50, you can get good advice before you decide whether to move forward or not.
In terms of the fee for the survey and design, that should come in at 10-15% of your total budget. The price of the design is not necessarily more because you have a large garden, rather the price is often determined by a number of factors.
Type of materials to be used
Access to the garden
Whether there are slopes in the garden
Maturity of planting required
Outdoor offices or kitchens to be included
My design fees generally tend to range from about £600-£1800 as a guide. Obviously it depends on the scale and/or complexities of the project.
So where will most of your money go? It actually goes to the contractor who is doing the garden build for you. The more walls, paved areas, pergolas and such that you have which is termed ‘hard landscaping ‘ the more expensive it will be. The more lawn and planting you have which is your ‘soft landscaping’ the less you will pay. A good designer will advise you about how to manage costs both up and down the scale so that your expectations are in line with your budget.
If you’d like several quotes from contractors, the garden designer can meet with them separately at your garden to go through the design and additional information required prior to the build starting, if you would like. They will also undertake periodic inspections of the build while it is going on. Different designers will charge differently for this with some agreeing a certain number of visits once you know how long the build will take, like myself and others will charge as a percentage of the overall build. I charge my hourly fee which currently is £50 per hour for each visit. Usually with the good contractors I use, it is one hour per week of the build. But that can be more if it is required.
Finally, you’re almost there, with the icing on the cake being the planting plan which comes next. I offer all my clients fixed fees for their planting plans and once the build is complete and I can see the borders and spaces that need to be filled. Depending on the size of garden from small to large my fees range from around £450 – £1850 and all fees are given prior to undertaking any work. My colleagues will all work in different ways, so do ask at the initial consultation how their fee structure works.
PROS OF GARDEN DESIGN
As you’re reading this you may well be thinking that all the same this is all starting to sound rather expensive. I would suggest that you think about the following while you’re mulling things over. If you were planning to put in a new bathroom, kitchen or conservatory how much would that cost? For most people who consider garden design, their garden ‘room’ is often bigger than any of these rooms. When you engage a good designer they will guide you through the process advising you on what areas of the project you’d be wise to spend money on and areas where you can save money, helping you from making costly mistakes.
They will give you a well thought out beautiful but functional garden with all that you want encompassed in that. That will allow you to feel confident that you are not making mistakes and wasting money. The same applies to the planting plan. Many people I speak to have spent a small fortune on plants for their garden with the end resulting often being a beautiful ‘May’ garden but no colour in it all by July. I have seen many gardens packed with plants that have grown way too big for the space they inhabit. A good planting plan avoids all this hit and miss over planting and allows you to feel confident that you will have well thought out plant combinations year round.
Lastly, the plants themselves. Ask the designer where they source their plants from. Personally, all the ones I put in my plans are grown in the tough Scottish climate that they will spend the rest of their lives in.
Not only will you enjoy using your beautiful well designed garden while you’re in your house but if you decide to sell then not only is it likely to sell more quickly but currently you will be adding value to your home in the region of 12-15% maximizing its value.
CONS OF GARDEN DESIGN
Well, now you have heard the pros what are the cons? Well if you have a budget of say under £5.000, which is still a lot of money, you will be struggling to get your garden re-designed and built for that unless it is very small and your brief relatively simple. In these situations my advice would be to pay for an hour of a garden designer’s time and ask them to visit the garden to see how far they think your budget will stretch for what you want. They should be able to give you ideas and good practical advice along with the name of a good contractor who very likely will be able to give you something very nice within your budget.
Being realistic about how far your budget will go is essential. I guess the cons with this are getting a bad contractor who does a poor job or takes the job with no real idea about design and you end up with a garden that disappoints you. Picking the right designer or contractor for you is absolutely essential and I will cover how to do that in my next blog.
However you look at garden design, it is rarely a cheap option, so getting the right garden designer and contractor is the key to it all. Being realistic about your budget is also paramount. If you have £1500 to spend in total, it simply won’t be enough. A certain amount of patience is required and the understanding that having your garden designed will take more than a week or two. Projects generally take from around 3 months to sometimes a couple of years. It will just depend on what you want, the size and complexity of your garden project and the time of year you get in touch with a designer or contractor.
If after reading this you decide having your garden professionally designed is the best choice for you. Read my blog next week about how to find the best designer for you. I’ll also explain the differences between a garden designer, landscape contractor and a landscape architect.