If you want to redesign your garden, now is a good time to start. Its always a good time really. In all truth the best time to a talk to a garden designer (see my blog from Sept 17 2021) is Autumn. Beat the rush, get a Landscaper booked and you will be sitting pretty for the summer months ahead.
I reality though, most people are so busy they only think of their outside space when Spring starts to show itself. Its at this time that people start dreaming of what summer can be in their garden. Long summer nights outside on a comfy sofa at the end of a long hard day with a cold glass of something and the outdoor dining table set for diner, obviously cooked by someone else....Then the warmth of the sun and the sound of the bees and butterflies buzzing from flower to flower.....Ahhhh, and relax.
So, you have the dream. You've made a wise decision and the Garden Designer is coming round. So how do you get that dream across -and make the process easy and pleasurable. Think and plan. What do you need to think about / have on your list? Here are my 10 top tips and Do's and Don'ts.
Do - Write a list of what you want in your garden. Dining area? Play area? Shed? Greenhouse? Kitchen garden area? Yoga terrace? Home office? War games room? We've heard it all. Tell us. Being very clear on what you and your family want from the space really helps your chosen Designer.
Do -Have a look round at different styles of gardens and see what you like. Visit local gardens if you have time. (See the NGS website, www.ngs.org.uk ) Go on Pinterest and build a mood board (you can easily share these with your designer). Even an old school pile of pictures cut from magazines will help you explain what you like
Do look at your house. What's its age and style? Good garden design is about settling your house into its space and making your garden feel like a seamless living space. You may have a Victorian terrace in a conservation area. A minimalist ultra modern white paved space with a glass cube and one tree will jar and you wont ever feel comfortable sitting in it. Trust me. It'll feel terrible.
Don't try and design the garden for your Designer. I ask people what they want from their dream space . What do you want the garden to add to your life.. When clients then reply with..."over there I would like xxx and then in this corner xxx", I stop them. You are paying a Designer as they have a skill that you don't. I don't service my car. I didn't rewire my house, or build my new kitchen. I'd quite frankly be rubbish at it. But I do do good gardens. Be flexible. Trust your Designer. We are professional, we cost. Use us an get your monies worth.
Do include all members of your family who will have an opinion on what the garden looks like in the process.
Do be realistic on lead times. Most Designers and Landscapers are very very busy at this time of year. Talking to my peers, expect an average lead time of 8 months approx. from talking to a Designer to having a finished garden.
Do have a look at what kind of products are out there these days. Low maintenance? Then porcelain is great, and composite decking / fencing are very popular. Sustainability top of your agenda - then locally sourced stone is a great fit. Talk to your Designer and ask about these things. Truth is you will probably have to shut them up. We love engaged clients who ask questions. (Apart from questions about faux grass...really? Just get rid of the grass if hate mowing it.)
Don't think that just because its outside, that things become miraculously cheaper than for the inside your home. Wood? Not only is it scarce, it has to be treated to last longer outside. Paving, whether stone or porcelain, has to be non slip and often take heavier traffic. Want to screen a neighbour who has chopped a tree down? Buying a mature tree that is 10 years old has taken someone time, money, expertise etc... Skilled tradesman cost money. Your garden is really the largest "room" of your home. Be realistic. Designers or Landscapers don't mind if you run a project over a number of phases too if it helps with budgeting. Talking budget....
Do have a budget in your head. Clients will say I have no idea.....Do a bit of research. You would do it if you were looking for a new kitchen. Follow the same process.
Don't watch Garden Rescue and think we can do all that for you, in 2 days and for that price... (Its not reality, many things, such as the Design costs, are provided for free)…..But Do watch it for inspiration etc.. It has some nice ideas
Then sit back, enjoy the ride and look forward to your new garden.
A selection of recent mood boards for some of my clients gardens. Have a go. Its fun.