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Do you dream of a professional garden scheme for your own backyard, like the ones you see Alan Titchmarsh and his team create on his makeover shows? That dream can easily become a reality, without the help of Alan, but with the help of a professional landscape gardener instead. But how much are garden landscaping costs?
Don’t fret, you don’t need a showbiz budget to achieve great things, because garden design and landscaping can be affordable for all – you just need to know what you’re looking for.
Thoughtful garden ideas are a great way to maximise existing living space – offering an extended space for relaxing, dining, entertaining, playing and nurturing horticultural skills. So whatever the costs, see it as a worthwhile investment for your home. Gardens have never been more valuable.
What is garden landscaping?
‘In the US a lot of garden and landscape designers describe themselves as ‘Exterior Designers’ which I think is a lot more helpful to people,’ says expert Tabi Jackson Gee, founder of TJG Gardens. ‘Landscape design is just the outdoors version of interior design – albeit with rather different materials and the elements to worry about!’
‘The actual landscaping bit itself refers to any changes you’re making to your outdoor space, from creating new plant beds to building walls or terraces. Most good designers can do both – you need an incredible amount of knowledge not just of plants but of materials, building practices, costs, supply chains – and it’s this knowledge which allows a designer to help a client get the most from their garden.’
How much are garden landscaping costs?
The cost to landscape a garden will vary, depending on what you want to achieve from the space. Experienced landscapers typically charge about £150 to £200 per day, according to the experts at MyJobQuote. If you have a firm budget in place and know exactly what you want, you can tailor the garden to suit spending limitations.
Your budget will determine what you can achieve in your garden; here’s an overview on what you can create with the finances you have available.
- No money options: Have a good clean and tidy up of your garden. Prune overgrown shrubs and remove self-seeded trees. Edge lawns, clear weeds in beds and on paths. Swap plants with friends.
- Up to £100 Do all of the above and then brighten the garden up with some new plants or accessories. Or, you could re-gravel and mulch planting beds with bark to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture. Invest in some attractive containers or visit a salvage yard and build a raised bed with reclaimed timber.
- Up to £500 This budget allows you to consider building materials as well as plants. Simple concrete slabs, perhaps a new lapped panelled fence, re-turf your lawn or buy new garden furniture.
- Up to £1000 You can just about consider bringing in outside help. Two days’ work by a skilled trades-person and materials for perhaps a new patio. Or, if you are doing your own work you can invest in a digger driver to prepare ground.
- £5000-£10,000 The lower sum will get you about a weeks work by a skilled tradesperson or team including materials. If your budget is at the higher mark a professional designer will help your money go far in terms of impact. Expect to pay a designer around 15 per cent of your budget.
- £10,000 – £30,000 With this as your budget you can hire a professional landscape designer and contractor to ensure your work is done to a specified standard. Creating a 10sq m garden with significant hard-surfacing, high-quality planting, barriers and special features, will cost from around £25,000 and with design fees on top you can quickly reach the £30,000 mark.
How do I landscape my garden by hiring a professional?
Deciding how much to spend on building structure, hard landscaping, planting and lighting can be daunting. For this reason, it is well worth employing a professional landscape designer and gardener to ensure you get the most beautiful garden your budget allows, particularly if you have more complicated grassless garden ideas or hard landscaping in mind.
It also makes sense if you need to install or move major services – gas, electricity or water pipes as then you must employ a qualified engineer to survey the site and undertake the job. They will see obstacles or shortcuts you may not have noticed and can ensure all work complies with relevant regulations.
Reputable sites such as Checkatrade.com or RatedPeople can help you find skilled contractors in your area or you can find an accredited Garden Landscaper at Association of Professional Landscapers.
As for the cost of professional garden decking installation, there’s a price for all budgets – it very much depends on your garden’s size and the decking material you choose.. ‘There are many decking materials to choose from, including cheap options such as a softwood which can start from £3 per metre, while other timber options such as hardwood cost up to £10 per metre,’ say the MyJobQuote team.
‘You can also opt for alternatives such as composite, which is normally priced up to £12 per metre, while IPE and Trex decking reach £15 per metre.’
How can I landscape my garden cheaply?
You can landscape gardens cheaply by going down the DIY route, rather than hiring a professional. But be prepared to get your hands dirty. Nowadays there’s a wealth of books, online tutorials and even short construction courses to help you tackle your own garden project. Most building materials are easy to find at garden centres and builders merchants.
‘You can purchase and install turf yourself, which will cost around £2 for general purpose turf up to £7 for ornamental grass,’ explains an expert from Myjobquote. However, it’s worth hiring a professional to ensure the turf is laid correctly, as getting professional help will ensure the new lawn is long-lasting.
So if you’re not handy with the knowhow, don’t be tempted to take on a spot of DIY, because it could end up costing you more in the long run. However, some garden shade ideas, such as the draped sail above, are easy to install yourself.
When it comes to decking, choosing the cheaper material will save you the most money. For example a 15 square metre softwood decking installation may only cost £1,000, while 90-square metres of IPE decking could set you back around £9,000, all calculated on the basis of being installed by a professional.
Cut costs by weighing up how much you’re willing to compromise. ‘Always question if you really need lots of hard landscaping,’ says Garden designer Jack Wallington. ‘It’s often the most expensive element in a garden.’
How much does it cost to hire a garden designer?
‘Getting a garden designer isn’t an inexpensive option, but it does help you get the most for your money and create a garden which stands the test of time,’ says Tabi. ‘Most designers offer a complimentary consultation in the first instance – either over the phone or in person. I always take the time at this point to explain to my clients what the process looks like – as most people don’t know’.
‘The process is divided up into a few stages – loosely, there is the outline plan which defines the design direction and desired layouts. Then master planning and detailing which fleshes all this out into working drawings that contractors can use to build/install gardens. Then you either choose a recommended contractor or put the work out to tender.’
‘Roughly, a garden designer adds on a percentage of anywhere from 8-20 per cent altogether,’ Tabi explains, depending on the scale of the project, how long it’s going to take and how much technical expertise is required. ‘This varies depending on the size of the project. Most designers charge in phases so that both the client and the designer are in control of the process.’
Designers should always make their process and fees clear from the beginning. This helps everyone be really clear about what to expect. Things can change as the project evolves – but at least you have this to refer back to,’ she advises.
‘If you’re thinking about getting a designer you usually want to be spending upwards of £10k to make it worthwhile,’ Tabi suggests. ‘But if it’s just planting design you’re after that can be much less expensive as plants are often the most affordable part of the garden. It’s the labour and cost of materials for any built elements (even a terrace) which bump up the cost a lot.’
Is landscaping a garden worth the money?
Like anything, you get what you pay for. ‘Many designers offer a follow up consultation service,’ Tabi tells Ideal Home. ‘Not all plants survive, so going back and checking allows you to advise clients on where to make improvements.’
‘Gardens are never finished, that’s the beauty of them. If a designer and a client have a good relationship you’ll want to stay in touch and care for the garden together as it grows.’
After a year of feeling constrained by the four walls of our homes, gardens have proved the key to maximising living space. Unfortunately gardens might not be given the same precedence as other projects when it comes to spending, but why? Surely now more than ever the garden of your dreams is a worthwhile investment?