30 Jul How to hire the right landscaper for your garden makeover
Don’t be caught out by rogue traders. Read our blog to discover how to hire the right landscaper for your garden makeover.
In my experience, when it comes to hiring a landscaper, there are three main criteria that influence a homeowner’s decision.
Each person will prioritise those things differently. Some clients want a cheap job, and they want it tomorrow. Others are more concerned about having trustworthy people working on their property and they don’t mind waiting a while if it means getting a good job done. Judging by some of the posts I’ve seen on social media lately – I suspect that a high proportion the people who hire landscapers solely on the basis of price and availability are disappointed with the results.
So how do you hire the right landscaper for your garden makeover?
The reward for choosing the right landscaper for your garden makeover is a beautiful garden that will last for decades
I have to admit – that when it comes to every day shopping, I love a bargain. But getting cheap coffee, office paper or socks at a low price carries a relatively low risk. If I’m not happy with the quality, I’m only a few quid out of pocket and the disappointing items can easily be replaced.
Hiring the right landscaper though is a different kettle of fish. Yes, the price of landscaping your garden can vary wildly. And on the face of it, you could potentially save a lot of money. BUT, if you are not happy with the results – it will be very difficult (and stressful) to have the work made good.
How do you make sure that the price you are quoted is reasonable?
- Invest in a professionally drawn garden design so that all quotes are like for like
- Ensure that materials are clearly specified. “Grey paving” comes in many formats, qualities and price points and “tree” could be anything from a 2 year old whip to a mature specimen.
- Insist on written quotes which outline the tasks and materials involved in your garden makeover. Check that all quotes cover the same scope of works.
- If one quote is dramatically cheaper than the others – there’s probably a reason for it. Be suspicious!
- Never award a contract based solely on price. Check the landscaper’s credentials before committing to having work done.
- If you are quoted a price on the spot – the landscaper may not have thought the job through very thoroughly. Again – be very wary.
NOT OUR WORK!!!!
These images were supplied by Gareth Wilson. Gareth is an independent landscaping consultant who acts as an expert witness when clients and landscapers are in dispute.
Gareth can tell some real horror stories of dangerous construction and homeowners who are thousands of pounds out of pocket – please don’t let yourself get into a similar situation.
A garden makeover is an exciting investment and I can understand anyone being impatient to get the work started. But the truth is, that good landscapers get booked up quickly and you may find yourself on a waiting list.
Before you ask a landscaper to quote for your garden makeover, it’s a good idea to check their availability. The good ones will be honest with you and won’t try to raise your expectations. If you know that a landscaper cannot start on your project within what feels to you like an acceptable time frame, please think carefully before requesting a quote.
Quoting for landscaping work takes time. The landscaper will need to translate your garden design into construction plans and then calculate the materials and labour needed to complete the project. Next, he or she will have to find out the current costs of pavers, timber, cement, soil, plants etc and add them into the equation. Finally, there are things like safety equipment, portable toilets, machinery hire and fixed costs to consider.
It make take several days to work out a written quote, depending on the size of the project. On average, you can expect to wait 2-4 weeks from the site visit to the quote arriving (in normal working conditions – ie pre-covid). But – on the plus side – this is a fair indication that you are dealing with a bone-fide business who thinks carefully about every aspect of their work.
Even though it’s hard to do, waiting for the right landscaper to start work is well worth it. In a year or so’s time, you’ll be glad you did. And, if you are borrowing the money for the project, you’ll have more time to save up and may possibly manage with a smaller loan.
Winning an APL award for landscaping is a good indication of credibility – here are some of the Holland Landscapes Team receiving credit for one of the gardens they built
Would you invite a stranger into your home without knowing a little bit about their background? No? Me neither. If somebody is working in my home or garden – I want to be sure that they are trustworthy. Do they have insurance? Have they got a good track record? Do they know actually know what they’re doing? Can I confidently leave them on the property while I pop to the shops?
Landscaping is not a regulated industry in the UK – you do not need formal qualifications to call yourself a landscaper. Which means that you will need to make a judgement on whether or not someone is capable of building your new garden.
We all of us like to think we’re good character judges, and rogue traders will play on that fact to secure work for themselves. The friendly chap with the twinkly blue eyes may be charming, but does he know how to get the correct fall on your patio so that it doesn’t make your house damp?
Speaking of characters – bear in mind that your garden makeover may take several weeks to complete and during that time, there’ll be people on site 5-6 days a week, all day every day, in all weathers. It’s not like having someone in the house for a couple of hours to plumb in the washing machine. After chatting with a prospective landscaper and maybe meeting for a site visit, do you feel you would enjoy having them around for all that time? A personality clash between landscaper and client can really sour the whole experience.
Putting personalities aside for a moment. Workmanship is important too. Will this so-called landscaper work to the standards that you expect for the price you are paying?
Before you hire a landscaper, have a good look online. See if you can find reviews and pictures of completed jobs. Is he or she a member of an organisation such as the APL ? (this is a trade body who vets their members for workmanship and honesty). Check that the landscapers are experienced? Can they offer all of the skills needed to complete your project?
Does your garden designer recommend a particular landscaper? Is there anyone they would discourage you from hiring?
Take time to make sure you hire the right landscaper
A garden makeover is a big investment and you can’t send it back if you don’t like it. Please, please, please don’t hire a landscaper on impulse. Do your research thoroughly and always read the contract before you sign on the dotted line.