A garden designer has been through formal training, has designed many gardens, and gets paid to design gardens. They have a reputation that they need to maintain. These are good things; ensuring you get a well-designed garden is going to be something they care about a lot, and something they are very keen to get right. After all they will want you to speak highly of them at the end of the project.
Alhambra Garden, Roundhay, Leeds. Knowledge of great garden design, adapted to local conditions can deliver great results.
Garden designers spend a lot of time thinking about garden design. They work out why some things work and why others don’t. A good garden designer will also understand the broader world of design. They will be aware of contemporary trends and interests and respond thoughtfully to them, neither dismissing nor slavishly following them. They do all this so that we don’t have to!
Our inspiration comes from many sources and here is a look at one example – Vitra Design
So what is garden design?
A garden is just plants isn’t it? Anyone can pick plants. True, but a garden design is about so much more. It looks at the bigger picture, making the whole garden space start to work, connecting it with your house, developing moods and atmospheres. Finding the right spot for different activities, re-landscaping if need be, laying paths, putting in terraces. Thinking about the whole garden in this way gives a robust structure that underpins everything, and like good bones adds discreetly but powerfully to the final beauty.
Why do I need a garden designer?
A corner of Sissinghurst gardens, designed by the inspired Vita Sackville-West (with more than a little help from her friends).
I love design, I love plants. I’ve got Google and YouTube. Some highly praised gardens were done by amateurs anyway! These are all good points and you may indeed have the talent and skills of a Vita Sackville-West, and if you do we salute you! But there are an awful lot more failed garden designs than there are Sissinghursts. A good garden designer, through their breadth of training and experience, can anticipate and resolve all sorts of issues that can easily be overlooked by the best of inspired amateurs. If you’ve strong design ideas it might be worth thinking of asking a designer to act as your project consultant, making sure your design works to full effect and that nothing emerges, aesthetic, structural or financial, to trip up your project. A good designer should be happy to be the midwife of your personal designs.
How do I choose a garden designer?
Here’s your 6 point check list for finding a good garden designer:
Do you actually like the work they’ve done? Do you see something in there that looks like it could be close to what you want? Have they worked with a property like yours? Obviously a good designer is flexible and up for new challenges so don’t be put off if there’s nothing there like your desires, but if you also don’t actually like the gardens they’ve designed, pause for thought…
- Track record
Check their testimonials, ask to talk to previous clients. A good designer should be happy to introduce you to happy clients. What clients say about a garden designer can be more revealing than what the designer themselves says!
Our previous clients rate us very highly
It’s important that a designer has clear ideas and is creatively strong. But you don’t want to be overridden so they must be good listeners too, and prepared to take you views into account. That doesn’t mean they’ll do all your bidding, they are there to ensure you get a great design so expect them challenge some of your slightly wobblier ideas!
You’re going to be working closely with this designer, entrusting your garden and money to them. It’s really helpful if you can get along with them. You don’t have to be best buddies, in fact I’d be a bit careful about one that is too friendly. Flattery and over friendliness aren’t the best indicators of competence.
These aren’t tortured artists, they are professionals. You should expect them to be able to communicate their ideas, the issues, challenges and costs involved, clearly and simply. They shouldn’t lose you in jargon or high flying concepts that simply fog your brain. Their sketches and plans should be well made and easy to understand. You may hit the odd bumpy moment during the project, those communication skills will be crucial in getting through them successfully.
Yes, cost is at the bottom of the list. Not the top. A garden design is no small matter, get it wrong or get an unexpected overrun on costs and your dream becomes a nightmare. Decide on cost alone and that becomes a very likely outcome. We’re not suggesting you write a blank cheque, all costs should be gone through and satisfactorily explained, but finally your choice should not rest on cost alone. You’re only going to do this once, you want it to be right.
You can view our portfolio and see if we inspire you