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Restoring an old cottage garden - quote sense checking

I am in the process of restoring an old cottage garden in Somerset. The garden sits on a slope in the Mendip Hills and the first job is clearing the garden of its overgrown shrubs and planting. The garden is 25m long and 10m wide. There is what I would describe as a moderate amount of shrubbery and other elements to be cleared (i.e. it is not a complete overgrown wilderness).

For the clearance of the garden alone (no other landscaping elements) I have been quoted £1,800. Apparently it's around two days work using one digger. To my limited experience this sounded quite expensive for just a clearing job. Do any of you have experience of this sort of job and a view of the competitiveness of this quote? I am waiting on a couple of other quotes, although these are unlikely to come in until the end of the week. 

Any thoughts appreciated.



  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,079

    Digger hire (assuming it's a small one) is about £50 a day plus a delivery charge (which is £80 here). Your man probably has his own but as a comparison. I'd expect to pay reasonably skilled (i.e. competent driver) about £250 a day and a mate perhaps £150. So worst case, if there's two people for two days plus a digger £800 for the blokes, £200 for the digger so £1000 to do the work. Is he taking soil and rubbish off site though? A skip will cost a few hundred, depending on the size of it.

    It's quite a lot if it's just one bloke and he's just moving it around. It's dear but not exorbitant if there's more than one and they are clearing stuff off site and leaving you with a clean level site

    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    Sounds like someone's intending to go in and 'site clear' before a building project ... it'll totally destroy the structure of the soil not to mention kill off any remaining 'treasures' (bulbs, perennials etc).

    Find a gardener who loves gardening and plants who is prepared to dig out shrubs you don't want, maybe move some that you do but that are in the wrong place, and keep eyes peeled in the spring for emerging treasures. Take your time ... enjoy the process and you'll get the 'renovated cottage garden' you speak of ... not what sounds like a muddy  'blank canvas' on a new building development image

    Last edited: 15 January 2018 11:00:13

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,416

    that's not what I'd call restoring. That's destruction and new start

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    Snap! Nut image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • madpenguinmadpenguin Posts: 2,534

    Some photos would be good to see what you are dealing with?

    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • Re the semantics of 'restoring'. There's evidence that it used to be quite a beautiful cottage garden decades ago - although little trace of that remains. It has been neglected for a very long time. Therefore, by restoring I mean trying to get back to what it used to be like by almost starting again.

    Thanks for your advice so far.  I will try and get some pictures together.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    The 'bones of it' should still be there .............. photos will be good image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Hi 

    its does seem a high quote but then you have to take in to consideration all the excavated spoil and shrubbery that they are removing. Are the contractors supplying skips or tipping it at a local tip. Environmental laws and costs on tipping can now be very expensive. Is there any difficulty with access to the site that will increase labour time. Are they mature shrubs that are being grubbed up. All these will add cost to a quote. Obviously, if you feel that the quote is overpriced when you seriously consider the work being carried out then bin it. 3 quotes should give you an idea on the resonable cost of the work to be carried out 

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    anything woody taken out i would burn rather than skip and remove, the ash will be useful for the soil (you can also sterilise the soil using the fire) and you don't have to pay for skip removal.

    i'd also be tempted to remove by hand with a saw and mattock rather than with a minidigger (harder work, but less damage to the soil structure), i would also see what you've got and cut back what can be kept rather than removing entirely, even if its been let go for 20-30 years the shrubs and trees from the original garden will be in there somewhere.

    start by clearing pathways and removing weed trees and brash species (ash, elder, sycamore, brambles etc) and wait till the spring and see what pops up, if you need help identifying shrubs/trees/plants put decent pics on here and we'll tell you what they are and how to deal with them (some might just need chopping to the ground and let regrow, some might just need thinning out).

    just take it steady, after all you don't want to accidentally chop down a 50 year old magnolia or camellia!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,858

    Just keeping one or two large shrubs (and renovating them if need be) will give the garden a air of maturity virtually impossible to obtain in any other way without huge expense .......... have you seen the cost of buying, transplanting and nurturing a mature shrub? image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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