should I do first before contacting someone?
It's really important to first sit down and answer the
What do I want out of the garden ?
Is it for children to play in ? To grow vegetables and flowers ? Barbecues
and romantic dinners ? Do I enjoy gardening or do I want low maintainance
What do I want in it ?
Am I looking for radical changes or minor tweakings. Do I want a new lawn,
play area, shed, water feature, patio, raised bed, archway, steps etc
What do I want it to look like ?
It's crucial to be clear about this before you get people in
to do quotes. You can design your garden yourself (with the help of
masses of books and TV programmes). However, if you intend a full landscaping
transformation, it is well worth investing several hundred pounds in a professional
independent designer who will specify sizes, materials, plants etc..
When you then ask potential landscapers to quote on this exact plan it will
ensure quotations that can be compared like for like, and potentially save
What is my budget ?
much can I afford, do I want to spend ? Be realistic. Two people for one day
may cost £200 or more.. So a full landscaping job will be £thousands.
Materials and labour don't come cheap.
I get lots of quotes ?
Invite several landscapers to quote
for you. Make sure that you have your clear design ready (see above, under
'what do I want it to look like') so that they can give an accurate and
realistic quotation to you, that you can compare with others. Be clear about
what you want and when you want it done etc.. Watch how they respond to you,
and how they talk about the potential job. Are they enthusiastic ? Are they
professional ? How do they go about working out the quotation ? Have they
got a tape measure !
What should I ask them ?
- Ask them about what jobs they've done.
They should show you an album of recent work. Do they sound proud of their
work, or excited etc..
-Ask them about where they learned to landscape, e.g. courses, training, working
for other companies etc.. Are they experienced, knowledgable etc.. Do they
work alone or with a team ? - and how experienced will they be? How will they
tackle your design ?
-Ask them about any particular conditions, timescale, payments etc.. What
would they need from you ? Is there a contract or agreement ? What happens
if things go wrong ?
do I find someone ?
Of course these questions could be equally
applied to finding a plumber, electrician.
- Firstly, and best,
you can seek out word of mouth recommendations from friends, neighbours,
and family. This is the best way of finding a landscaper. You'll get
an unbiased opinion of their work, their honesty
and reliability, their charges, and get a chance to see their finished work
in the flesh.
- Secondly you can seek
recommendations from garden centres and nurseries. Ask them for practical
advice, and if they've heard good reports of any particular landscapers. NB
they may of course recommend their own people !
Thirdly you can trawl through Yellow pages
etc.. and local advertisements. You probably won't learn much from the look
of the advertisement, as they are often created by a designer wanting to catch
your eye, not the landscaper themselves. They may often state they are 'members'
of certain bodies etc... You can take or leave this, as gospel or nonsense.
We are often approached by professional bodies, who say that we can use their
name as recommendation, if we pay a certain sum - few questions asked. We'd
recommend contacting a cross section of advertisements, big and small. Compare
their response to you.
do I choose ?
If you've shown each potential landscaper the same design and explained to
each clearly what you want, it should be easier to choose between quotes.
Look for how the quote is broken down, into labour and materials. Do these
figures seem reasonable ? Can you afford it ? What is your gut feeling about
them.. Do you trust them ? Do you like them etc.. What will it be like having
them around for a week or so ? Are they pofessional, creative, enthusiastic
? Don't choose someone you have doubts about. Remember you can always ask
the landscaper for a contact number or address of a previous job, so you can
see how it turned out, and ask the customer how the job went.
Could I do it myself ?
W hy not ? You'd save a lot of money and achieve the wonderful satisfaction
of creating your own garden. There's a lot of help in books and TV, and the
message is often the same: 'Give it a go! You don't have to be an expert
to build your own garden'. It's not rocket-science ! Alternatively you
could do some of it yourself - maybe the bits that feel more straightforward
or enjoyable (pay someone to do the back breaking bits!) Finally, if you're
not able to do any of the physical bits, you could at least research and buy
the materials yourself. You'll save money, because landscapers often
make a profit out of the materials they charge you for. You also have more
chance of ending up with the materials that you want, not to mention
the fun of searching round muddy reclaimation yards and nurseries !