When deciding how to landscape or design your outdoor space, finding the right landscaper and knowing how to hire a garden designer to get the most out of the process is crucial.
We break down step by step how to hire a garden designer so you can achieve the outdoor space of your dreams. Read on to learn more about choosing a designer, the cost, and ensuring the best result for your project.
1. Start your search
The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) is a great place to start your search as all registered designers have undergone review and assessment of their projects and the letters MSGD and FSGD indicate a qualified member.
“Most designers are ‘civil engineers’ with a penchant for plants, which means that the entire project is their responsibility,” says Louisa Bell MSGD of The Lovely Garden.
But it’s not just about the technical side, says Juliet Sargeant FSGD. “A good designer has the imagination to create a bespoke design for you, the ingenuity in solving the location problems, and the hands-on experience in implementing the plans cost-effectively.”
2. Choose the right designer
One of your most important considerations will of course be style and aesthetics. It can be useful to respond to a personal recommendation, but Farlam & Chandler’s Ben Chandler MSGD believes that ultimately it is your ultimate decision and should always choose a garden designer whose taste and style are your own.
Juliet Sargeant says it’s important not only to base your decision on beautiful photos of finished designs but also to make sure you can enjoy the process of starting a new garden.
“An initial consultation with the designer is a great way to see if you can work well together. Give them time to look at the garden and hear your assignment,” Andrew Duff tells MSGD.
3. Calculate costs
The price will inevitably vary depending on the complexity of the project, but in general, they are all calculated according to the same principles. Andrew Duff tells us that the calculation is all about clarity. “I set out all of the design-related costs right from the start,” he says.
The construction of the garden is calculated on the basis of detailed design plans and construction drawings, from which they are offered at a fixed price.
Ben Chandler says he would typically reach out to at least three different contractors to allow the client to cross-reference the cost.
Keep in mind that your landscaper is a business professional so you may be asked for a deposit upfront and be able to bill for it after each stage is completed.
Most designers include a design phase in their fee so you have the opportunity to review a proposed design and discuss changes.
4. Think about where you can make savings
Savings can be made before the first penny is spent, says garden designer Andy Sturgeon.
First, think about what is worth keeping. What can you do with the existing hard landscape, trees, and bushes? Is it possible to rejuvenate? This can create a sense of maturity right from the start. ‘
Gradually arrange the garden. “You need instructions to set the rules and parameters for your design, but you don’t have to decide everything in advance. You need to keep costs under control, which can be tricky for beginners. So taste each item and write it down before making a decision. ‘
Inexpensive materials can be the starting point for a whole scheme. ‘Kies is an example. I am a big believer in gravel gardens. They create light and space around the plants and are relatively cheap and easy to care for all year round. I’m trying to buy local gravel, ideally more than 10mm in diameter. Don’t worry about putting a plastic membrane under the gravel, for me, this is a fake economy. ‘
Think about compromises and absolutes. “For example, a hedge could be better than an expensive fence. One idea is to invest in some decent trees and shrubs to create a mature landscape. An instant garden won’t emerge, but it will provide a framework while other plants establish themselves. I recommend spending money on individual items – spend as much as you can on something special that should last forever. ‘
5. Push the boundaries
Juliet Sargeant FSGD says it’s about taking risks and being open to suggestions.
“Let your garden designer take you on a journey that may take you out of your comfort zone – I always say nothing is set in stone until it is set in stone!”
6. Look at the garden design as a whole
Before planting and landscaping, create an idea of the garden as a visual whole. “I urge customers not to look up plants in catalogs,” says Andy Sturgeon. “The problem with seeing them individually is that you are looking at them in isolation. You have to think about palettes and choose combinations – think about height, color, texture and the seasons. Buy an initial selection and add to it. ‘
7. Bring inspiration
Ben Chandler takes a look at taste when it comes to defining the right style for a client. “We ask our customers what they like about gardens, whether they have favorite plants and whether they have favorite plants.”
“We collect information about the style of the house and the interior,” says Ben. “If the customer is already working with an architect or interior designer, we can use the proposed work to control exactly what he likes or dislikes.”
8. Think long term
Andrew Duff likes to think about the future as much as he likes the present. “After visiting customers for over 25 years, you have a good idea of what the customer needs and what they want. You need to go through the aesthetic requirements and check that the function is correct. Flexibility is important here too. How long will you live in the house and are there any changes in the near future? ‘
9. Create a solid relationship
The most important thing for Louisa Bell at The Lovely Garden is to like and trust your designer.
“I like to look around my customers’ house and get to know them. In a first meeting, I ask how couples got to know each other, which books and films they are interested in. I want to know what kind of people they are as it helps with the overall design. ‘
10. Collaborate with your designer
Being clear about your needs from the offset helps in the design process, and a good designer makes sure that every detail is worked out exactly what your wants and needs are.
A designer creates bespoke designs to suit your budget. If you underestimate, you can limit the original creative concept. If you overestimate, you may be disappointed to find the design downsized or redesigned according to your real budget.
When it comes to design, Ben Chandler demands that you be open and critical from the start. “When the client is unsure or has no clear direction, it is the designer’s job to steer them in the right way and provide them with decisions that will enable them to make informed decisions,” he says.
What does a garden designer cost?
A garden designer costs around 10 to 15% of your total budget. This usually includes the initial inspection fee, garden design, and planting list. However, different price packages are available to every garden designer. So it pays to be clear about what to expect on each side before hiring the team you choose.
What does a garden designer do?
A garden designer will conduct a site survey, create a design on paper and online with a new look for your garden – usually at your order and after some discussion. The design – and the conversations you have about it before submitting the first draft – usually also includes materials and hard landscaping and soft landscaping and planting suggestions.