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"A garden you like is good for your well-being"
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When you feel tired and low wander into your garden with a bottle or two of red wine. Close the gate and shut the world out for a while.
Pick a bunch of the scented sweet pea trailing over the dry stonewall, rest your head on the chamomile lawn and take a sip or two or three of wine and listen to the water flowing over the waterfall.
It won't be long before you see how perfectly shaped and coloured the hollyhocks and wallflowers are, how cool the flagstones feel and how relaxing the scent from the chamomile growing between the stone is.
Now unlock and open the gate and let the world back in. It's not the red red wine it's your design and maybe a little help from Mike and the flowerpotmen.
Family, friends, the bobby on the beat, the postman and the neighbourhood watch person will all linger a little longer inspired by your skills in creating such a peaceful oasis of colour, scent and texture.
However, if like me you don't want the world and its guest lingering longer! Let me fix the gate and fit a new lock.
Probably the main reason for hiring a landscaper will be to improve the usability of your garden.
Hiring a good landscape gardening company or costing you're own time if you are carrying out the work yourself, isn't cheap. I have listed a few things to think about before starting work.
Well thought out garden makeovers that are both attractive and practical can add value to your home as well as creating space and privacy.
Whatever the reason for changing your garden, budget will play an important part.
What's your budget for materials,
Its worth spending a little time visiting your local landscape supply company, to see the many different natural stone and concrete slabs and other materials available and to check out the cost.
How much will experience/skill and labour cost.
An experienced landscaper will cost around £200 per day or, if you are doing your own garden makeover, good labourers are worth at least £100 for a day's work.
Other factors affecting the price.
Access to your garden, clearance, leveling, drainage and groundwork.
You are going to have to live with the result for a long while after the garden designer has gone so have your own plan in mind and stick to it, Be prepared to change stuff that just isn't practicable, but stick to the main points.
You shouldn't need to compromise because of budget restrictions, instead break the work down into affordable stages. An experienced landscape gardener will be prepared to work out a staged plan with you.
Do you need to pay for a formal garden design?
Designs can cost between £300 and £3000. If you have your own design in mind, ask your landscaper to run through your Ideas and point out any that might not be practicable.
Landscapes that work.
What are the practicalities to consider when changing your garden? A multilevel patio or decking platform might look good, but is useless if the surface area is too small for family or guests to pull back their chairs, spread out a little without falling of the edge. It's not the wine it's the design.
Working out the space you will need for the dining area on your patio is easy.
1 Position your patio table in the area to be landscaped.
2 Place chairs all around the table to calculate the minimum space you will need for dining.
3 Pull the chairs back about 18" from the edge of the table and this is the room you will need to relax with a glass of red after dinner.
A practical design is even more important if the makeover is for a person who because of disability finds it difficult to get around or uses a wheelchair. Check out my disabled gardening page.
Often forgotten until it rains, but it's so important unless you want your expensive patio to disappear every time it rains. I have forgotten how many times I have been called out to sort out problems garden designers and landscape companies had not recognized and taken into account. Details here, Lawn drainage.
Choosing the right landscaping contractor.
Questions to ask the contractor. Has the landscape company had experience with the work you want done? Will the person who calls to discuss the quote, also work on the job? Can they give an estimated time scale for the work?
The answer to all these questions should be yes. If they haven't had experience with the type of work you want carried out, can they recommend a landscape gardening company who has. Finally, will advance payments for materials and possibly labour be required.
Who to choose? The team you choose, will depend on how we have answered your questions, competitive quotes are also important, but if you go for the cheapest it may cost a lot more in the long run.
Do the designer and landscape gardener both share your ideas and are people you can trust working around your home for a few days or weeks.
A deposit to cover the cost of materials is sometimes requested and for large projects scheduled to take longer than two weeks, I agree stage payments, paid in arrears.