Think ahead

Although you might be in full festive swing right now, Tim Sykes of Gardenproud says that December is actually a great time to think about what improvements you might want to make in your garden come spring…


As we approach Christmas and the New Year, what better time to lay down plans for improving your garden? You may be thinking of some planting improvements, or have plans to extend your house that will impact the garden? Or you may be looking to refurbish or redesign your terrace? Create a kitchen herb and veg garden, or even an outdoor kitchen?

Whatever you are contemplating I recommend engaging the services of a good local garden designer. The added value and creative insight they will bring to any solution is worth every penny.

When you are planning on embarking on a new project, think about the timing. Be realistic about timescales, consider when you want the work completed and then work back through the likely process. You’ll need to allow enough time to compile a brief, fix a budget, select a designer, and landscaper so they can carry out the works. For a small project this cycle might be achieved in the space of a month, but for a large project you could be looking to start the process at least six months prior to that.

Setting a budget is a critical part of the process. Getting this right can avoid a lot of wasted time and energy.

Typically designers charge between £1500 + VAT, equalling around 10% of the project value (much like an architect). That’s not surprising when you consider they not only have to come up with the concept, but also how it’s going to be executed. Then they need to create working drawings and planting plans, and oversee the whole process to make sure the finished rendition remains faithful to the vision.

If your garden has a challenging landscape then the designer may request a full survey and topographical study prior to preparing plans. There may be structural aspects to garden walls and features that also require expert input. So be prepared for this in your budgeting.

If your garden requires structural walls and terracing then these will need to comply with planning and building regulations and so would be estimated accordingly.

Getting the design of your garden right can add real kerb appeal to your house and transform the enjoyment of your property as a whole. Increasingly it is also seen as a great investment. Renowned designer Andy Stedman believes that a well-designed and landscaped garden can add up to 15-20% extra value to a property.

When compiling your brief think about these factors and how you want to use your garden? Draw up a wish list of the main features you would like to incorporate. Think about the style of gardens and planting you have seen and you like. Maybe compile your own mood board.

Consider when you are likely to make the most use of the garden? Will you for example look and admire the garden during daylight hours, but make the most use of it in the twilight hours? So here a creative lighting approach could be critical. Also think about the style of your house and its footprint in relation to the garden.

Other factors that may impact include where you are situated, or whether your property is listed. If you live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or Conservation Area, certain aspects of your design may require approvals. If your property is listed then you may require Listing and Planning approval for any major alteration, even a new terrace! If your garden is sloping and you require walls, or surfaces that sit higher than 300mm then these will also require approvals. If you are at all uncertain about any of these aspects then talk to your designer, or a planning consultant. Or even seek an informal audience with a local conservation, or planning officer and they will be happy to guide you.

Remember the end result is always worth it and brings so much joy! So whatever your plans a conversation now with a garden designer could be the first step to realising a garden transformation that will flourish and you will enjoy for many years to come.

Why not make it your New Year’s resolution?


Contact Tim Sykes on 07725 173820 at Gardenproud for further information and guidance on your plans for 2024.

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