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How to get what you want out of a landscape designer?

Hi, I'm going to be getting my garden landscaped but when I contacted a landscaper they referred me straight to a designer because I seemed unsure about what I wanted. I arranged for the designer to visit but I was expecting her to fill the gap and basically tell me what I wanted based on the garden and what I want to use it for. I don't feel she did that. We discussed levelling the lawn and putting in a patio and chopping down hedges etc and she showed me some catalogues. She said she'd draw up a plan based upon what we wanted doing. I was expecting to be told what was best and then we would give feedback and come to a mutual agreement but every time I suggested that I was unsure about something she said to discuss it with my husband and decide before going ahead. I wanted someone to brainstorm with, not someone who would put my ideas onto paper. I don't know where to go from here. Thanks


  • With respect to those designers who know their stuff, this question is evidences exactly the reasons behind me starting my consultancy business. A designer should be able to steer you through the decisions required and advise at every stage. Unfortunately some designers don't know their plants (it's a very small part of the garden design courses), and others aren't knowledgeable enough to step in and advise when a client isn't sure of the direction to take. Be bold, decide what you want (patio, trees, sunny summer borders, or structured shrubbery with perhaps a little less maintenance). Unfortunately you might end up designing the garden, the designer can advise on levels and materials, and the landscaper can change it all when he starts. Sorry, I meant he can do the build!  Hopefully he'll convert your wishes and the designer's advice into a finished product. H-C

  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,735

    Well Louise, I've found the same problem when I've dealt with lawyers and architects. They all want to winkle out of you what your ideas are and then they write them down and present them to you with their terms, payable within 30 days.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • lawyers??  I doubt that!

    I think you need to be clear about how you determine professional competence before you waste a lot of time talking to people who are playing at it.



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,735

    Just my experience in my professional life. I never met a lawyer who would tell me what was best to do, only asked me what I wanted to do. If I had known what was best to do I wouldn't have needed a lawyer of course.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Louise BLouise B Posts: 81

    Thanks for the replies. Pansyface that's exactly how I felt about the garden designer.

    I did try writing out the desires I have for my garden but I'm not sure it made much sense. Maybe I'll try again.

  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,735

    Not sure who's life direction you are pooing on Edd. If it 's mine you will need to be quick as I can't tie it down myself.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    Louise. I think perhaps you are expecting too much from the designer. Before you talk to a designer you must be clear on what you want. You may not be clear or have the knowledge to determine exactly what you want in terms of hard landscaping. For instance you should have a list of what you want in the garden ie. seating area in the sun, border for perennials, rockery, wheelie bin storage, clothes drying area etc etc. and how much you want to spend. The designer can then go ahead and draw a plan based on that. She will know where to put the seating area so it gets the sun, how big it will have to be and what it will be built with. And she will try and incorporate all that you want in the plan bearing in mind the budget. The landscaper then comes along and builds to the plan. He may or may not have to change it depending on unforeseen ground conditions. Some landscapers can do design but a lot need specific instructions to do the job.


    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353

    Louise - you don't seem sure of what you want so maybe it would be better to take your time and make some lists of what you want and , more importantly, what you don't want. It's a big commitment and expense so don't rush it. Take a look round your existing  garden and make a note of what you like and dislike about each part. Then decide what you need - for instance, if you have children and need a play area for them then note that, if you want an evening seating/dining area note that. Then list things you'd like to have - perhaps a pond, a veg plot, trees, chicken run etc. Then the things you don't like - styles, colours, particular plants etc. If you hate a particular style of garden then note it. How much time you have for maintenance is really important - no point having huge herbaceous borders if you work full time and have other commitments. It will become a millstone round your neck.

    That will give  a designer the bones to work with - they can only draw up a plan if there's enough to go on.  If I was you I'd take the rest of this year to think about it carefully, and make sure you're giving him/her useful info so that there's less chance of you ending up with something you're not happy with. image

    Hogweed's been posting at the same time as me, but we're basically saying the same thing!

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • a1154a1154 Posts: 1,092

    Agree with above, but also please go see as many gardens as you can.  You will see lots of things you like and dont like and form firmer opinions on things. Did this designer have a portfolio of completed works and happy clients?  If not, why not? I would have thought they would be itching to show you completed projects.  

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,980

    I suggest you collect together some pictures of gardens, plants and features that you like - a sort of mood board or scrap book - clippings from gardening magazines, photographs of other peoples gardens that you like, places you've been to etc, as well as make a list of practical uses you'll need in your garden, e.g. herb patch, washing line, BBQ, patio, shady seat, children's play area, veg patch etc.  

    That will give a good designer something to start with .... image

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

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