Garden design is about optimising and organising outdoor space. It is about evaluating the existing garden area and having the vision to see its future potential. A well designed garden just feels right. It makes us comfortable and relaxed. Winding paths ensure we can traverse the garden naturally.
Well positioned seating allows us to enjoy breakfast in the morning sun or enjoy a drink on a warm evening. Views from the house are well considered. The garden should look great and smell wonderful even in the depths of winter.
Every garden, no matter how small or big, can incorporate some or all these elements. Have a look through this section to see how we can achieve this in your own garden.
Deciding to get your garden professional designed and landscaped can be a big decision. A garden is such an important area of your overall living space, it’s vital to get it right. Many of us have nostalgic memories of gardens we grew up in or visited as children. A well designed garden will bring you real pleasure and enjoyment all year round.
Key elements of a beautiful garden include a well thought out structure, high quality materials and year round planting interest. Having your garden designed not only gives you peace of mind and lasting happiness, it’s also a great financial investment. A recent survey shows a well designed garden can add a large premium to the cost of your home and make it easier to sell.
That’s why I try to make the process as easy and transparent as possible, always keeping you involved and at the centre of the ongoing design process.
At your request I will come to visit you and to look around your garden. This is a great opportunity for us to chat together and get to know each other. That way you can decide if I’m the right person for your project. I can also advise you whether I feel that I can add value to your garden. In the course of our first meeting we can discuss what you want to get out of your new garden.
Initial considerations at this stage will be to discuss the style of garden that you require. For instance do you want a formal, low maintenance garden or maybe a more wildlife friendly English cottage garden? Are you keen on a Mediterranean style garden, or do you have a small shady garden to consider? You can get great inspiration from visiting gardens all around Norfolk, something I would highly recommend.
We can go into lots more detail later on, however this first meeting will allow me to get a feel for your required garden. With this information I can then provide you with a targeted quote fit for your project.
After I have visited your garden, listened to your ideas and understand your requirements, then I will produce a quote for the work. The quotation aspect depends upon what your requirements are. This can be separated into three different services options
Design Only – Small Garden
You may wish to hire me for a design only service. If you have a small garden you may choose to do the garden build yourself. This can be an enormously satisfying activity, especially if you are following detailed landscaping and planting plans. In this case, I will usually provide a cost for a design only service at our first meeting after an initial discussion.
Design and Build – Small Garden
You may prefer a quote to have your small garden designed and built. If so, I will be happy to provide a lump sum quote (or estimate) for a design and build project. In this case I will usually do a survey of your garden during our first meeting. I will then follow up a week or two later with a quotation to design and install your garden. This will include a number of assumptions, which can be adjusted should you decide to proceed with the contract.
Design (with optional Project Management) – Medium and Large Garden
Should you have a medium or large garden you may require a garden design in order to get competitive quotes for installation from different landscaping companies. In this case I will provide a quotation a week or two after our first meeting addressing the specific requirements of your new garden. I can assist you to acquire independent quotations and/ or assist with the project management aspect if so required.
Should you wish to hire me for your garden design and/ or build, then we will have our first full consultation meeting. At this point we can have detailed discussions regarding the specifics of your new garden.
Vision for your garden
The aim of this initial consultation is so that I can understand your desires and needs relating to your outside living space. Communication and developing a great working relationship will be key to a successful outcome. We can have a relaxed discussion walking round the garden whilst I listen to your ideas in more detail. Together we can evaluate the opportunities and limitations presented by your outdoor area. I can give constructive feedback on any of your existing ideas and provide my own vision and interpretation of the area.
How will you use your garden?
It is important for me to understand various aspects of your outdoor life. Who will be using the garden, and when? How will you use the garden? Do you love gardening and like nothing better than pottering about all day? Or maybe you’d prefer a low maintenance garden that you can entertain in. Do you have any favourite must-have plants, or maybe pet hates to avoid? Everyone uses their garden in a subtly different way. It is also useful to remember that how you use your existing garden may differ from how you will use your future new garden.
After our initial meeting, usually lasting between 1-2 hours, depending on the size and scale of you garden, I will write up a detailed brief for your garden design.
The next step is to perform a site survey. I will usually do this after our initial consultation. This involves measuring the overall dimensions of your garden. The survey will include measurements for the house walls, doors and windows as well as all existing hard landscaping (ie patios, paths, steps etc). I will record the outer boundary of the garden and the name and location of trees and large shrubs. I will also locate flower beds and mixed borders, with names of specific shrubs and perennials where required. I will also note ground levels (in relation to the house floor level) using a laser level where required.
Other important aspects of the survey are the environmental considerations. These include orientation (compass direction), light levels, surrounding noise or pollution, good views, strong winds etc. I will also perform soil testing to check soil type and pH.
Site Survey Drawing
Once I have all the required information, I will produce the site survey drawing. This includes all the existing information relating to the site. The site survey drawing is an extremely useful drawing, although often under appreciated. It summarises all required activities onsite and ensure initial onsite considerations (eg to maximise good views) are not overlooked later on. It also enables landscapers to produce more accurate estimates for the required works. This ensures that you can obtain more directly comparable costings from potential landscapers.
The next step after providing the site survey drawing is to start brainstorming the proposed garden layout. This process follows the same steps for all gardens, big or small. Firstly we decide what we can keep in the existing garden and what can be disposed of. This includes existing features such as hard landscaping, trees, shrubs etc. In some cases we can recycle old materials which is helpful to keep the budget manageable. However it can be preferable to retain original features to maintain continuity between the house and garden.
We then start the garden layout by planning the hard landscape features. The aim is to create a strong basic garden structure with the planting scheme working around this. The obvious place to start is often the patio or outside dining. For larger properties, paths around the property and additional seating areas are a consideration.
If you would like a water feature we would also consider its ideal location at this stage. Solar powered water features are especially useful for lower budget gardens. These can be very effective for creating movement and ambient sound in a small garden.
Other things we may wish to consider at this stage are practicalities such as garden sheds or outside storage areas. Other vital practicalities to plan include the dustbin and compost area, the driveway, washing line, outside area for pets etc.
Trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs
After we have the basic structure to the garden, I will consider the planting. As always, we start by considering the largest plants first. Every garden, no matter how small, should have one or more tree if possible. This gives structure and a sense of maturity to the garden. Trees are also fantastic for year round interest. So many trees have a great range of lovely autumn colour, bright winter berries and spring blossom.
Then we consider the shrubs, a mix of colourful and highly scented evergreens and deciduous plants. Again, planning for winter interest can be very beneficial. This keeps the garden looking great as the days start to shorten.
Only then do we consider the perennials, great for summer colour. Grasses and ferns are also beautiful additions to any garden design. We will also plan to have bulbs coming up throughout the year, another reliable source of year round colour.
Once I have completed the first draft, we will meet up again to discuss the plan so far. This is the time to start fine tuning the garden plan to ensure it is entirely to your liking. I produce all my plans on Vectorworks (garden design industry standard software) after I have produced the initial hand drawn sketches. This makes further iterations of any design easy to produce. All drawings are produced as scaled drawings either on A3 , A2 or A1 paper.
In order that you can fully visualise what my garden will look like in reality, I can bring this to life using 3D software. This is a highly effective and very lifelike representation of the garden. Using the flythrough option you are able to ‘walk around’ the garden. This is very useful software during the design process as I also use it to check that my design looks and feels great. If you require outside lighting, it can also be used to assist in this aspect. For more information on this tool, check out my 3D design page here.
Final Plan and Deliverables
After we have discussed the initial plan and you have provided feedback, I will work on producing the draft final plan. This will incorporate all of the proposed changes. After that we can meet up again to discuss any final minor adjustments to the plan if required.
It is vital that you are totally comfortable with the design of your future garden. Only when you are completely happy with the design will we will close the design phase of the project. At that point I will provide you with copies of the scaled drawings. I can also provide CAD files (ie pdf, dwg or dxf) if you require these.
If you are working on a large project or in a conservation area you may require planning permission for your new build. One aspect of this may be the requirement to produce elevations of the house and garden. This is to satisfy the regulatory bodies that the house will sit comfortably within the surrounding landscape. I can assist with this aspect by producing computer designed elevations (ie side views) of the proposed house. Contact me for more specific information on this aspect.
Once we have a finished plan, then we start the building phase. For larger projects this may mean obtaining competitive quotes from landscaping companies. However for smaller projects I will be happy to provide costs for this work. I have a small team of workers who assist me for small build garden projects. Check out some blogs describing recent project examples of garden builds in 2019. A small garden for a new build. Creating a beautiful garden in Norwich City. A Mediterranean garden in North Norfolk. A back garden urban jungle.
Finally, after we have built the hard landscape features, we start the planting phase. This is always the most fun part, finally the garden really starts taking shape! Whilst it is possible to do the planting throughout the year, autumn into winter is really the optimum time.
Doing the planting at this time of year has various advantages.
• Firstly, plants become established much more quickly over the winter and spring. This is because they don’t have to expend valuable energy into producing flowers and foliage. Instead they concentrate of producing good root systems.
• Secondly, there is much less requirement to water them regularly. It is entirely possible to water them once when planted and then leave them until spring.
• Another advantage is that trees can be bought more cheaply as bare rooted specimens in the winter.
So, how much will all this cost? Of course, that rather depends on the exact nature of your requirements. However, as a guide, for a small to medium design project I would typically charge between £350 and £800, depending on the size and complexity of your garden. Costs for designing and building gardens can vary considerably, however for a small garden (ie 50-80m2) build, including for example patio, raised beds, trellis, new lawn and full planting you should allow between £4,000 – £6,000.
It is really useful if you can provide me with a realistic budget for your garden at this stage. This will allow me to tailor the design to match your budget. It’s also good to know how you intend to maintain the garden in the future. For instance will you intend to hire a regular gardener and if so, how much is your budget for this aspect? These are important budgetary aspects to consider when planning the garden design and build.
I will always offer to visit you to see how the garden is settling in, usually in the spring and/or autumn. I have a great relationship with all my previous Clients and often visit on a yearly basis to assist with questions and provide ongoing advice if required.
As part of an aftercare service I will be happy to provide periodic high quality garden maintenance up to twice a year, usually spring and autumn. Whilst I don’t offer routine garden maintenance services, I am happy to provide the names and contacts for good quality local maintenance gardeners.
Again, this is rather subject to your specific requirements, however I will aim to provide the initial draft garden concept plan within 2-4 weeks after our first meeting. I will usually provide the final plan within a further 1-2 weeks, depending on the number and scope of changes.
The build phase may take anywhere from weeks to months depending on the type of garden and the time of year. If possible, try to plan for your garden build in the late autumn and winter. Availability is usually better as this time of year as well as being a more suitable time for planting.
If you have any queries about anything gardening related, or would like to discuss with me about a garden design why not get in touch?
Feel free to contact me for more information on my garden design business. Ring me on 07801 252 972 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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