By Michael John McGarr
Many people make the decision to commission a re-design of their garden over Christmas and New Year. And who can blame them? With the beautiful winter’s sun we’ve been witnessing over these past few days, it’s been a joy to stare outside at my garden. With the sun casting its low, long shadows, it’s hard not to make plans for the warmer months about how you can enjoy your outdoor space even more next year. We work all over the UK, but especially in the North West across Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire.
However, where to begin with a garden re-design? There are so many companies out there who work within the remit of ‘garden work’ and can range from someone who can mow your lawn but might dig up your favourite plants instead of weeds, right through to RHS award-winning garden designers who will only spec up the absolute best products.
Completely re-designing and landscaping your outdoor space can be costly, but will be worth every penny if you create a space in which you can relax, socialise and use all year round. And it’s always worth investing in the best quality landscaping materials, as well as the best quality plants that you can afford to avoid having to replace or re-do anything in the future.
Our team at Warnes McGarr & Co Ltd won’t compromise on using the highest quality materials and plants to ensure our customers really do get the best service we can provide.
It can be confusing to find the right business for your needs, but with our eight years’ experience of working in the garden and landscape industry, we can offer you our insider advice.
- Find companies with industry body accreditations
These organisations require members to produce a number of case studies and sometimes be interviewed before they are allowed to become members, so only experienced designers and landscapers are admitted.
If you have a really good budget and want something to dazzle the neighbours, you could take a look at your nearest RHS Flower Show and see which designers have recently won awards for their work. The RHS website also has some really useful advice on planning a garden re-design, as well as a gallery of inspirational images.
- Use a garden designer with an in-house landscaping team
Many garden designers work as individual consultants and then outsource the hard landscaping to a team. We would always recommend working with a company that has both the creative design element and an experienced in-house landscaping team, who all work together.
There are a number of benefits to this, but mainly a garden designer who employs their own workforce will have much more reliable and trustworthy staff, than someone who employs temporary labour for each project. It’s also beneficial to have both a creative designer and a landscape expert working together on every project from the planning and design stage to give their input and expertise for every element.
- Ask for references and case studies
Like all work to your property or land, it’s always advisable to ask to speak to previous customers, or even better, go around and look at one of the garden designer’s previous projects.
Any good garden designer will have a website, with a case study section preferably, and plenty of photographs. Additionally, it’s a good idea to search the company online to look at any news articles, reviews and images.
- Have a budget in mind
It’s much easier to work with a garden designer if you have a budget in mind. Firstly, they will let you know if it’s a budget they are able to work with, for the size of the project. Secondly, it will guide them on your expectations and help them plan out what you can actually expect for the budget.
Without a firm budget in mind, you could get some very different quotes and design ideas that vary wildly and don’t actually help you make up your mind.
If you don’t have a vast budget and are happy to do some hard work yourself, you can employ a garden designer on a consultant-only basis. This means they will design your garden layout and planting design but not actually carry out the work.
- Make sure you have the same ethics and ethos
It’s really important that as a client, you click with anyone you commission to work for you, and that you’re confident they understand what you want. At Warnes McGarr & Co Ltd, we are very clear about how we work – which is only with the absolute best tradespeople and materials – that the right type of clients are naturally drawn to our work. We also focus very heavily on designing outdoor eating areas, as well as putting wildlife and biodiversity at the forefront of all our designs, which appeals to the right kind of clients for us to work with.
- Follow them on social media
When looking for a garden designer, don’t just view their websites, but also make sure you follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, and any other networks they are on. This gives you a much better insight into their previous project, who they are and what their work is like.
Using Pinterest and Houzz is also a great way of finding a garden designer whose work you admire. Even if you don’t know what budget they work with initially, it’s always worth dropping them a quick enquiry to find out more.
It really is worth spending the time researching different garden designers and landscapers to find one that you really admire their style and way of working. Re-designing a garden can be huge project so you need to get it right the first time. But a new outdoor space will totally change how you use your garden, so it’s always worth the investment.