ASK THE DESIGNER: SO HOW MUCH DOES A GARDEN REALLY COST TO BUILD?
Although we are currently living in unprecedented times, there will be many aspects of the lockdown we shall remember with some fondness. The positivity and togetherness reflected in the #WeRemember video encapsulates wonderfully some of these moments. It talks of ‘moments of stillness and creativity’, ‘stopping and being present’, ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘dreaming of new things and reinventing old ways’.
You might be wondering what this has to do with this particular feature on ‘Ask The Designer’. Well, with people working from home and spending more time in their outdoor spaces, we have seen a significant increase in enquiries through the website and general website traffic. We anticipate that this increase is partly because people have had more time on their hands to browse the internet, but moreover because people have discovered the ‘sheer joy’ of the outdoors and the positive impact it has had on their mental well-being during this challenging time. Their outdoor spaces have become an even more important extension of their indoor living spaces and of course, the glorious weather has helped! This coupled with the plethora of garden makeover programmes on TV, has fuelled and inspired people to want to ‘get more creative’ with their outdoor spaces.
In June’s copy of Pro Landscaper, a publication for garden and landscape professionals, several articles were featured illustrating all the above. Recent RHS research shows ‘that nearly six in ten people (57%) now value their gardens more than previously. More than half (51%) said they will value their garden more after lockdown.’ Post-lockdown, emerging trends might see more people wanting to work from ‘home offices’ in their outdoor spaces, growing fruits and vegetables in dedicated spaces, creating outdoor grown-up living rooms for relaxation and more sophisticated cooking spaces for entertaining family and friends.
We asked Adam to share with you the ‘real’ costs involved in turning your dreams of a new outdoor space into reality and how the expertise of a garden designer can add genuine value to your home.
WHAT IS THE REAL CONSTRUCTION COST OF A GARDEN?
“Clients do have widely varying budgets. They can be anything from £5,000 to £200,000. I will come back to what you can expect from a smaller budget later. Whilst cost is unique to each garden design and is significantly influenced by the site’s size, drainage, aspect and accessibility for groundworks, the following table is a rough, illustrative guide as to what you can potentially expect from the services of a reputable landscape contractor, using mid-range quality building/landscape products.”
The above guide does not take into account sites where access may be limited/poor. As a rough guide, the costs can double or even triple, especially in a city centre location, with limited parking, access and working restrictions. This would reflect increased labour costs for manual clearing of the site and/or specialist equipment hire, such as cranes to lift equipment into the rear garden.
The above table is a rough, illustrative guide as to what you can potentially expect to pay.
What can I expect to pay for the professional expertise of a garden and landscape designer?
“As a rough guide, in addition, you can expect to pay between 8-15% of the total construction cost for garden and landscape design services. The garden design process has three distinct phases, from initial concepts and designs to fine detailing, constructional drawings and planting designs and finally the selection of a preferred contractor and the construction of the garden.”
Does a well-designed and constructed garden add value to my home?
“Most definitely! The skills and expertise of an experienced garden and landscape designer are paramount in creating a strong and coherent garden design. Construction by an equally reputable and experienced landscape contractor is key in successfully delivering this vision. A well-designed and constructed garden can potentially increase your property’s market value by 10-15%. Garden appeal is well-documented when trying to sell your property.”
What size gardens do you normally design?
I would say a majority of the gardens which I fully design cost between £20,000 - £200,000. However, for smaller gardens or clients just wanting to rejuvenate their herbaceous borders, then the cost can often be less.
What can I expect and achieve from having a smaller budget?
“Some recent enquiries through my design website have been potential clients, with budgets of about £5000, keen to redesign and construct their dream outdoor space. When I explain that the groundwork costs alone of clearing a site, removing soil and/or undertaking drainage works could exceed this, I understand their dismay and surprise with the figures. I have lost count of the number of times clients have said, “I really had no idea of the costs involved.”
Unfortunately, the garden makeover programmes on TV do little to educate people on the ‘real’ costs involved in designing and constructing new spaces. Seldom do they highlight the actual design and labour costs of landscape and garden professionals, not to mention groundworks, the hire of machinery and time expenses associated with mandatory Health & Safety Regulations and Risk Assessments for sites.
Whilst a smaller budget is not going to afford you a significant hard-landscaping project, what can be achieved is a partial redesign and/or new planting plan for rejuvenating a small, existing outdoor space.”
How can a garden designer be of value when you have a small budget?
“I would strongly recommend a half/whole day garden and landscape design consultation, even with a smaller budget. For £250-£400, I can visit to discuss your initial thoughts about your outdoor space and its future direction. I will assess your site, considering factors such as soil type, drainage, aspect, prevailing winds and micro-climate. Following our discussions, I would then advise you on how I think you could best spend your budget. I might suggest a phased approach to redesigning your outdoor space or a simple planting design scheme to improve your existing space. By the end of the consultation process, you will have a better understanding and vision for how to move forward with your plans.”