The Biggest Lie In Landscaping

The Biggest Lie In Landscaping

We’ve been having a team talk about the biggest lie in landscaping Holland Landscapes and this is where the discussion led.

You’ve probably heard lots of different things about landscaping. That anyone with a strong back can do the job or that it’s hard to find a trustworthy landscaper. Neither of those two statements are quite true. Here at Holland Landscapes, though, we think the biggest lie in landscaping is that paying someone to build your new garden is an expensive waste of money. Let’s look at that in more detail.

Have A Realistic Expectation Of Landscaping Costs

The reason that a lot of people think landscaping is expensive, is that they’ve never done it before. For most big investments in life – a house, a car, holiday etc, it’s perfectly possible to do lots of research to get a ball-park figure of what you can expect to pay. You’re buying something that has been made thousands of times and you know what other people have paid for that product or service.

When you go out for a meal or you go clothes shopping, you have a rough idea of what you are prepared to spend and which retailers are most likely to be in that price bracket. You wouldn’t for example expect to pay the same for shoes in Harrods as you do on your local high street.

Buying a garden however is different. No two gardens are the same and you can be absolutely certain that your garden makeover has never been done before. No-one else’s garden is an exact replica of yours, and no other person has your unique taste and style. So how can you possibly build any sort of expectation of what your new garden will cost?

If you have no expectation of the cost of landscaping, other than what you’ve seen on garden makeover shows that were filmed 10 years ago and don’t include labour costs, then it’s quite likely that you’ll be surprised by the quotes you receive from reputable landscapers.

recessed manhole cover beautifully installed by the Holland Landscapes team

It takes years of training and practice to be able to install a recessed manhole cover to this high standard

Cost and Value Are Not The Same Thing

If we’re going to blast the biggest lie in landscaping out of the water and prove that a garden makeover is not expensive, then we need to look at it in terms of value for money. After all, no matter the price, if you feel you’ve had value for money, then you’ve not wasted your hard-earned cash.

When you bought your car, did you mind that it cost a little more than similar models because the interior was a higher spec? No, of course not, you bought something that made you feel special, that you are proud to show to friends, family and colleagues. It boosts your self-esteem in a way that is simply priceless.

A garden makeover does exactly the same thing. When it’s beautifully designed and skilfully built, a garden can feel like a kingdom and it will make you feel like royalty.

However, if you nip down to the builder’s merchant, pick up a few slabs and get your neighbour’s bosses, cousin’s boyfriend to lay them for you, the chances are that you’ll love your garden for a few weeks and then, when you compare it to a professionally built outdoor space, the flaws in it will start to annoy you. You can’t take a garden back to the shop and get a refund and so you will have spent good money on something you’re not happy with. And that IS expensive!

Four Steps Towards Getting Best Value From Your Garden Makeover

1. Try to find out what good landscaping actually does cost.

Holland Landscapes portfolio of work gives ball-park prices on some of their past projects. Please bear in mind that the cost of landscaping materials does vary according to what’s happening in the world, recent increases in shipping costs have impacted landscaping prices as has the cost of living crisis.

2. Invest in garden design

A thorough garden survey is Uber-important when it comes to making any changes in your plot. That determines how the land drains, where the utilities are and what soil type you have. If you want your new garden to last for more than a few weeks, you’ll need to ensure that the sub-base and the drainage scheme are suitable for what you plan to build.

A good garden designer will normally organise the survey for you and then create a plan for your landscaper to follow. The design isn’t just a 2D map of what to build where, it’s the outdoor equivalent of a house plan that a builder would work from to make a house.

If you are looking for value for money for your garden makeover, you’ll want the hard landscaping features to last for decades. And so, although it seems like a faff to go to the trouble of having a professional garden design drawn up, it’s actually all part of ensuring that your new garden is properly constructed.

3. Hire a professional landscaper

A young Paul Baker learning how to lay foundations

Paul Baker, MD of Holland Landscapes started honing his craft at a very early age

Having built over 500 gardens in the 35 years that Holland Landscapes has been trading, we know a bit about offering value for money. No, we’re not the cheapest out there, your neighbour’s bosses, cousin’s boyfriend will almost certainly charge less, but then he doesn’t have the same overheads as Holland Landscapes. He’s probably had no training, holds no insurance and, failed to comply with building regs, planning regs of CDM (2015) regulations. He almost certainly skipped two of the most important stages of landscaping a garden – the survey and the design.

4. Choose your landscaper wisely

The next stage of debunking the biggest lie in landscaping to get great value for money, is selecting a landscaper who works to a high standard. You need someone who has a wide range of skills, provides written quotes and contracts, is fully insured, can interpret a design, disposes of waste responsibly and, most importantly, runs a safe site.

Each of those things comes with a cost. However – the cost of overlooking them can be astronomical.

The speediest way to find a trustworthy landscaper who genuinely offers good value for money (but isn’t necessarily the cheapest contracotor in town) is to search for a company who is a member of the Association of Professional Landcsapers (APL). The APL is an organisation who carefully inspects each member’s work and business practices on a regular basis. They also  have a very good complaints procedure in the rare event that a member’s work falls short of client expectations.

Results like this are worth waiting for – don’t let your enthusiasm to complete your garden makeover lead to compromising on the quality of materials and workmanship.

Are You At Risk Of Falling For The Biggest Lie In Landscaping?

It’s part of human nature to want speedy satisfaction. We’re accustomed to next day delivery for the things we buy online. And we’re probably all guilty of picking up a takeaway on the way home because we can’t wait for tea to be cooked. And so of course it’s only natural that when we’ve made up our minds to refurbish the garden we want it done as soon as possible.

Being impatient to get your garden made over can be a factor in getting poor value for money. It’s all too easy to choose the landscaper who has instant availability and who can also do the job cheaply. Hmmmmmm would it not be better to hire the landscapers whose solid reputation means they are booked up for the immediate future? Acting on impulse when you are about to spend a big chunk of your savings is probably not wise.

If you want to avoid buying a garden that disappoints, do your research carefully, plan carefully, be prepared to pay skilled tradesmen and, if you can’t afford it right now, maybe wait a year rather than rushing into a bad decision.

Useful links

Visit the APL website to find a reputable landscaper near you

View Holland Landscapes’ portfolio of work where you’ll find ball-park costings on many of the gardens we’ve built. Please note these may not be completely up to date as the cost of materials and labour is constantly changing. The only way to know for sure what your new garden will cost is to ask for a quote.

Read our blog about what is covered in the cost of landscaping. 

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