Wednesday, 28 April 2010

7 Tips For Choosing A Garden Designer

Whenever I'm making a decision, doing a bit of DIY, or even just going to the supermarket, I make a list. This articulation of my requirements and the act of writing them down helps to clarify my ideas, point up potential problems and highlight omissions. The same applies to designing a garden - even installing a simple patio will work out better if you have a plan.

So, give your project some thought and you’ll always get a better outcome. This means you’ll need to find a garden designer. Someone else’s take on your garden project is always valuable. A fresh pair of eyes will produce ideas that don’t suggest themselves automatically to the person who spends every day looking out on the garden. If that someone has built many gardens before, even better.

How do you go about choosing a garden designer? It’s tough – there are a lot of us out there. So, here are my 7 tips for choosing a garden designer:-

1. Personal recommendation: ask around at work, social gatherings, family, trusted contractors (plumbers, builders, etc) and see if you can find a designer that someone has used before. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right person for you, but it is a start and you know they have done a good job for someone else.

2. Search on Google: put in some specific search terms, for example, do you have a steeply sloping garden? If so, type in sloping garden design and see who’s got projects on their site that they’ve completed that match these criteria.

3. Breadth of work: look for someone who has a good breadth of projects – all sizes and shapes. It shows that this landscape designer knows how to take everything from a small, poky, dark courtyard to a large, empty field and turn it into a garden.

4. Qualifications: qualifications are a tricky one, of course they are important, but college courses vary in quality and content. It is just as important that a garden designer can take what they’ve learned in college and translate this into solving real-world garden design problems. There are some excellent landscape designers out there who have no qualifications at all. See my next point.

5. Portfolio and completed projects: meet your chosen garden designer/designers and look through their portfolio of completed projects. Don’t get too carried away by the presentation of the plans. The ability to articulate the design on paper and make it look pretty is important, but this doesn’t mean the design will work when it’s built. Make sure you look at photographs of the completed jobs, go and see some of the gardens and talk to the clients.

6. Relationship: you must like the garden designer, trust the quality of their work and believe you can have a great working relationship with them. Having your garden designed is a very personal experience. You will need to work closely with your designer and spend time in their company, if you don’t think you can get on with them find someone else.

7. Professionalism: this is so important. You are entrusting your garden designer with creating an enduring part of your property and almost certainly spending a large chunk of your money. They must fill you with confidence that they can behave and run their business in a professional manner. The designer will need to communicate clearly with you and all the contractors involved in the build, understand the technicalities of the construction, be able to solve problems as they arise, and provide good documentation for each stage of the project. If you don’t believe they will be able to do this, keep on looking.

If you need help with designing your garden check out some of my work on my Web site and give me a call to discuss your requirements.

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