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Proffessional garden design - worth it?

Hi All.  I have a large (2/3 acre) garden which we moved into a couple of years ago and although I love gardening I'm starting to feel over whelmed by it.  It does need a major over haul - and I'd like it to feel more "mine" if that makes sense.

I'm considering using the services of a professional garden designer but haven't a clue where to start or what they may offer.  I think what I'd like Is someone to guide me with the design of the garden - but then leave me with the design to implement at my leisure over a few years probably.

Has anyone used a professional designer and can give me any guidance on what they can do to help and possible costs.  Or any advice how I can go about designing it myself - at the moment I'm pretty clueless apart from enviably looking at garden programmes and the bling of shows like Chelsea and working out what I like and don't like?



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,350

    Will it be truly yours if you employ a garden designer?

    Rather than TV and Chelsea bling, (very unreal), why not go and have a look at some real gardens and see what could be integrated into your patch.  

    My National Gardens Scheme plug of the day    image

    John Brookes has written some good books on garden design. so have others but I can't remember their namesimage

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,550

    Hi Doogie, Nut is right and garden visits would be great start for ideas.  You could look at pics at our gardens for ideas and if you can post pics of yours we could help with ideas too.  Also Pinterest is amazing source of ideas image

    Proffesional garden designers are amazing with what they do and would love one but I don't think I could afford the thousands it would cost to put the design in place and then i would be gutted of what I couldn't have image

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,722

    It would certainly be worth checking with local nurseries and garden centres to see if they can suggest local designers.  We used one years ago, purely to help with the planting and to put our loose ideas on design / landscaping onto paper.  The cost wasn't huge and we were given vouchers towards stuff for the garden.  Once you have some names, call them and explain what you want to do and get a sense of cost before you decide whether it's worth doing or not.

    Not all designers go over the top, ours most certainly didn't.  What we received was a plan of the garden with planting layout.  She came up with a number of ideas that we wouldn't have thought of. It was then up to us to implement as much or as little of the plan as we wanted. 

    The spacing she put for the planting was for mature plants but she also suggested where it would be helpful to increase planting density if we wanted it to look mature more quickly.

    Looking at other people's gardens first would certainly provide ideas for plants, but unless you know their soil conditions, exposure, orientation etc it would be very easy to waste an awful lot of money on the DIY process too.

    Whichever way you go, transforming a large plot isn't going to be cheap.

  • Beaus MumBeaus Mum Posts: 3,550

    Hi KT, I enjoyed reading your post, was really informative and made me think image Thank you

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    My garden is about the same size and when we arrived it was knee high grass with areas of bramble, bracken and scrub. I longed for a designer but I couldn't afford one so I did all the looking and reading suggested above and began small projects as and when I could. Thirty years later, I still suffer from garden envy, sometimes: other people seem to do it so much better. But actually, every inch of my imperfect garden is mine; it has memories, emotions, associations that have come with effort and success - ok some failure - and  so much learning. I love every inch of it.

    I think the key is to make your garden what YOU want. If that's a designer one, go for it, but if you just feel a bit lost, give yourself a break and slow down. You may enjoy making it your own more than someone else's polished production. You will become more confident as you progress so don't beat yourself up thinking it is all too much!

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,238

    We have a similar sized plot to you Doogie and it was pretty much a blank canvas when we moved here 6 years ago.

    Like you I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by what I needed / wanted / could afford etc etc and was frightened of making big and / or expensive mistakes.

    We had to employ a builder / landscaper to carry out some major works on the driveway. He knew somebody who had done a bit of designing. I sent her some measurements and a list of the the things I had to have in the garden (G&T spot, patio, shed, fruit patch, utility area etc etc) and personal likes and dislikes garden-wise. For £100 she then spent a morning with me discussing various options and she drew up a basic reasonably-to-scale plan for the garden.

    It was just such a relief to see it laid out on paper. Since then I've worked with the landscaper to put bits of the plan into being in several stages as and when I could afford to. He's done all the heavy stuff involving diggers and concrete and I've planned and completed all the planting.

    Six years on, I haven't really stuck to the original plan - but the shed and composting areas and some of the beds were the first things to go in and are per the original. Once these big bits were 'anchored'  the extra stuff and going away from the original plan followed on quite organically.

    Basically, I just needed someone to help me get started.

    Good luck. image

    Last edited: 18 January 2017 17:48:43

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,722

    I think people are getting confused between "Designer Gardens" i.e. the sort of OTT stuff you see at Chelsea, and a garden where professional assistance has been used to help consolidate the garden owner's own thoughts and ideas. 

    The designer we used most definitely fell into the second camp, and the resultant garden is most definitely 'mine'.  I certainly didn't stick religiously to the plan proposed by the designer, nor did I use all the planting suggestions.  What I did gain from the exercise was access to somebody who could interpret what I was trying to create, but most importantly could say whether some of the plants I wanted to use were actually suitable for where I wanted to put them.  It doesn't take too many mistakes, particularly if you have a large garden, for the cost of dead or unsuitable plants to outweigh the cost of professional advice.

    Visiting gardens is certainly great for getting the thought juices flowing but, if a plant which looks great on your visit isn't suited to where you plan to put it, it isn't going to look anything like the prize specimen you saw on your travels.

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,458

    Have you got a local college nearby which runs garden design courses?  If so I would suggest enrolling on a course; I don't mean a long expensive three year degree course but just over one or two terms.  You will get ideas from the tutor and other students and learn a lot.  I went on one of these years ago and it taught me a lot including basic design principles.  You will also make local contacts who may themselves be professional gardeners and/or nurserymen trying to broaden their repertoire.  Visit as many gardens this spring and summer as you can to get ideas and decide what you want and probably more important, what you don't want.  

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Thank you all for your posts.  They've given me lots to think about. KT, I think you've hit the nail on the head I  terms of what sort of service I think will.benefit me most.   Just need someone to help get an overall plan put together I think.  I certainly don't have the budget to over haul the whole garden in one hit.  

    We renovated the house last year and I think I may just have run out of energy for the garden!

  • B3B3 Posts: 26,981

    Perhaps you could do your own research, spend the money you've saved on plants and let your garden evolve. You will make mistakes and some will be pleasant surprises, but it will be your own garden.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
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