A whopping 41% of Brits say they would like to spend more time gardening . Our gardens are an extension of our homes; perfect for entertaining throughout summer, a haven for wildlife all year round and beautiful topped with snow in the winter. A well designed garden allows you to use the space you have to fulfil your needs, whether this includes entertaining guests, relaxing, creating a fun and safe environment for your children to play or cultivating beautiful flower beds. Seeking professional input from a garden designer can transform the outdoor space you have into the garden of your dreams.
Without expert garden or landscaping knowledge, finding the right garden designer can be difficult. Knowing which questions to ask before embarking on a project is essential; read our top 10 tips for planning your garden renovation.
1) Speak to previous clients and visit previous projects
A good garden designer will be happy to provide you with references to showcase their work. Ask for contact details and phone previous clients to gain an honest opinion regarding design and construction work that has been completed. If possible, visit past projects to see how they have aged and weathered. Being able to compare photos of a newly completed garden renovation with the same garden two or three years later will give you an immediate sense of the longevity of work completed. Ask how old the garden is and if the owner is happy with the end product. Remember to enquire about level of maintenance required and keep an eye out for unusual signs of wear and tear, such as warped or rotting decking.
2) Agree fixed costs for the project; never agree to pay daily rates
Agreeing to pay a daily rate leaves you vulnerable to being ripped off with potentially soaring costs, it is also dependent on the working speed of the construction crew hired. An experienced garden designer will be able to accurately quote the costs involved for a whole project up front, so that regardless of the time required to complete a project you will only pay the price quoted. Ask for a breakdown of costs so that you know how much you will be paying for each phase of the project.
3) Ensure a formal contract is in place
Before work commences and money is handed over, make sure a formal contract is in place. As with all types of contracted work, be sure to read the small print carefully. Take the contract away with you to research and question anything you don’t understand before signing the paperwork.
4) Ensure that the construction work is guaranteed
Is your garden project being contracted by a sole trader or a limited company? Investigate this before agreeing to anything and be aware of your rights and whether a guarantee is in place. Generally, due to the scale of the business, a limited company will be able to reduce the costs of materials for clients.
5) Agree estimated timescales
Agree on estimated timescales upfront so you can gauge the level of disruption to expect from a garden redesign project. While unforeseen weather conditions may delay elements of construction work, your garden designer should be able to estimate the amount of time needed to complete the project. Ask about timescales for any particularly disruptive aspects of the job and consider access to your garden in relation to this; this way you can make preparations if necessary.
6) Choose a company that can design and build your garden
Always choose a company that can manage the entire project in house, from garden design to construction, without having to outsource to contractors. Communication problems between the client and separately managed garden designer and contractors, can lead to delays in work and on occasion the production of sub-standard results. Choosing a company that can manage all aspects in house should result in a successful translation from design to completion.
7) Plan ahead for winter
Make sure before you start the project that you have a clear idea about what you need from your garden, how you would like to enjoy your outdoor space and how you would like it to change throughout the seasons. An experienced garden designer will consider the appearance of your garden all year round when planning, so that it is still beautiful and functional throughout the winter.
8) Consider the practical side of you garden
Ask your garden designer how to get the most out of the space you have. If storage space is an issue, some garden designers are able to include sophisticated underground storage ideal for children’s garden toys, even creating covered pits to hide trampolines when not in use. Consider the way your garden interacts with your house as an extension of your home; will new plants and trees added to your garden affect the view from your house? A good garden designer should plan holistically to create a beautiful view of your garden without blocking the light from your house in the winter.
9) Ask about the level of post-project maintenance of a proposed design
Knowing the level of upkeep required for the future maintenance of your garden is important for planning ahead. Be sure to ask your garden designer about this when agreeing on types of plants, water features and any wooden features such as decking which may require treatment or long term care. Whether you are an avid gardener or are looking for a low maintenance solution, your designer should be able to take all of your needs into consideration when planning your dream garden.
10) Seek professional advice before embarking on a project yourself
If you are planning to renovate your garden yourself always ask for professional advice. A respectable garden design company will be happy to talk to you about any possible complications & offer you professional guidance.
For more information please visit Floral and Hardy, garden design Kent