Placing the layout of your garden in the hands of a professional designer can sometimes be quite an emotional undertaking. Not only are you giving a complete stranger free access to your private space, but you’re also trusting him, or her, to bring your dreams for this space to life. While you may be over-familiar with your garden, a designer will inevitably see it with new eyes, bringing along some fresh ideas for the area.
Assess Your Needs
- What needs do you and your family have? Do the children need an area in which to play? Is there a special collection of cycads needing a home? Have you always dreamt of your own herb garden? Do you want a rose paradise?
- Do you want to make a start with a limited two-dimensional plan for your brand-new garden, or do you immediately want to bring new life to the front garden as well? Remember, creating a garden usually happens in phases and if your budget is tight, perhaps you should first focus on the areas needing urgent attention.
Choose A Style
- Think practically. If the household is incredibly busy or you are frequently absent from home, a low-maintenance design with fewer plants and more hard elements, such as gravel or paved areas, could be a better choice.
- Keep the building and décor style of your house in mind when you fantasise about your dream garden. Remember, the inside and outside should be unified.
- Obtain a copy of your plot’s plan from the local authority so that you and your future designer can see exactly where the underground cables and waterpipes run. Then make a few practical notes.
Old garden You know the microclimate of your own garden, so make notes about things, such as when and where the sun and shade fall and where the wind blows at its worst. Also make notes of any general garden problems. You don’t have to dwell on existing plants and garden elements – the designer will mark these on the garden plan and recommend if they should stay, go, or possibly be moved.
New garden It’s advisable to obtain the services of an expert when you begin planning a new garden, especially if the plot is problematic, or if you’re in an ecologically sensitive area where the natural plant growth should be disturbed as little as possible.
- Creating a garden isn’t cheap; in fact, most of the designers and contractors we spoke to say you should spend at least 5% – but preferably 10% – of the value of your property on your garden.
- Every garden is different and therefore there is no such thing as a fixed, or even average, price list. Contractors’ tariffs vary, so get more than one quote if you can.
- Be honest from the beginning about what you want to spend so that the designer can plan around this
Words and images: Home magazine