Who’s who in the Garden design and build process?

Who’s who in the Garden design and build process?

Every garden design and build project involves a number of different skills and talents. The two main services you will need are a garden designer and a good landscaper. But what’s the difference between them? Let’s explore.

Lately I’ve been a bit concerned at how some TV garden makeover shows give homeowners the wrong impression about garden design and build processes. Some of their methods won’t result in a long lasting garden and as for their pricing – incredibly inaccurate. But this blog isn’t looking at landscaping techniques. I want to explain the collaboration between garden designers, landscapers and yes, the homeowner too – because they are the most important people in this process.

  • Homeowner/Client:  Identifies the need for change, hires reputable designers and contractors
  • Garden Designer: Interprets the brief and designs a garden that fits the homeowners needs, desires and budget
  • Surveyor: Maps out levels and dimensions so that the design is accurate and buildable – sometimes carried out by garden designers or landscapers
  • Landscaper: Uses practical skills to bring the garden design to life

Let’s look at each stage of the garden design and build process.

The problem that sparks the idea for a garden makeover

before garden design and build

A typical “before” picture from one of Holland Landscapes garden makeovers – the space is neither inviting nor practical and it certainly doesn’t enhance the property

Every garden design and build project starts with a person who needs a problem solved. A common problem is that the outdoor space looks tired and doesn’t do the property justice. Sometimes the garden just doesn’t do what the family needs it to. Whatever the problem there are usually lots of possible solutions. The trick is in finding the right solution for you – and that’s where the landscape industry can help.

The first person to talk to is a garden designer.

The role of a garden designer in your garden makeover

It’s very easy to underestimate the importance of a garden designer. TV programs are heavily edited and don’t reflects the time involved, the skill or the knowledge of a good garden designer. There’s more to it than drawing pictures!

Would you build an extension to your home without consulting an architect? Of course not. Architects understand planning requirements, safety regulations, materials, construction techniques and budgets. They think about the way a building is laid out as well as how it fits in with its wider environment (existing buildings, the street, the aspect and the outlook etc).

Believe it or not, garden designers have a very similar skills set. Your garden makeover is just like adding an extension to your home. The only difference is that there’s no roof on it and that it is capable of supporting plant life.

The elements of garden design

A good garden has walls (or fences or hedges). It is divided into sections or “rooms” and the transition between each section or “room” needs to flow seamlessly. There’ll be storage, screening, areas for privacy, somewhere to cook and eat, somewhere to relax and possibly somewhere to grow food. Lighting is important. Privacy and security are super-important and beauty absolutely essential.

Garden designers – just like architects – listen to all of your requirements, learn about your personal style and combine shapes, layout, materials and colours into a vision of how your new garden will look. They’ll consider the final build budget, how your garden will blend with your property and the wider neighbourhood and also think about building regulations, accessibility and safety.  THEN they’ll produce a beautifully presented image so that you can visualise your new garden space.

street view with recently landscaped front garden

This is the same garden as pictured above. Designed by Katie from Tapestry Design Studios and built by Holland Landscapes – it’s now an asset to the whole area.

Building your new garden

Some landscaping companies offer a design and build service. Others work to the plans created by your garden designer. Either way, the practical part of a garden design and build project is carried out by landscapers.

If you are keen to avoid rogue traders, ask your garden designer to recommend a landscaper. Or talk to friends and family and check out the online reviews.

Click here for 10 questions that will sort the landscapers from the rogue traders 

Your landscaper will take a long hard look at the garden design and think about the methods and skills sets needed to build your garden. Including clearing the area, putting in place health and safety provisions, hiring machinery, assigning the right number of people to get the job done and of course sourcing and purchasing the materials.

When you see a garden design and build project on the telly, the price quoted normally only covers the materials. Not skip hire, not labour, not time spent managing the project and arranging deliveries and not the effort that goes into ensuring everyone on site is safe.

When the price has been agreed and the deposit paid (so that the first batch of materials and machinery hire can be organised) the landscaper can start to bring the design to life.

Landscaper and garden designer working together

More often than not, the garden designer forges quite a strong relationship with his or her client and likes to watch the project unfold. It’s rare though for the designer to get involved with setting out levels, digging footings or laying slabs. Unless of course you’ve opted for a design and build service from your landscaper.

stages of garden design and build

Garden construction can be complex – it’s vital that your chosen landscaper has the necessary skills otherwise your new garden may not last very long

Holland Landscapes works with several garden designers. Including Tapestry Design Studios. The designer normally entrusts the landscaper with the technical aspects of the build. Creating the correct sub-base, using ethically sourced products, the right sized supports to cope with loading etc. As the build progresses, the designer might pop in from time to time to check that the client is happy and all is well. It’s not unusual for the garden designer to help set out the planting and “dress” the finished garden.

Should the client (aka the householder) ask for significant changes to the design, again, there’ll be a 3-way chat – especially if it affects the build budget. The terms and conditions of your contract will explain this in full.

Maintaining your new garden

Need help to maintain your new garden? Some garden designers enjoy helping their designs to mature and develop – this is something to discuss at the design stage.

Some landscapers offer maintenance services such as patio cleaning, lawn care, mulching and tree pruning. Again this is something to discuss with your landscaper – most can recommend a reputable gardener who has the skills to help you.

Design and Build recommendations

Holland Landscapes work in conjunction with Tapestry Design Studios to offer a full garden design and build service.

Click here to discover more about services from Holland Landscapes

Related articles

How to find a great garden designer

Avoid rogue traders: 10 things to ask a landscaper before work begins 

How to futureproof your garden design and build project 

Do you need planning permission for domestic landscaping?


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