Fees and budgets

1. How much will it cost?

Understandably, that’s what most clients want to know at a very early stage. Unfortunately, because every garden is unique, it’s a tricky question to answer until we’ve discussed fully your project.

In the meantime, here is some information that will give you an indication of the likely budget required, and should help you to understand the factors that affect cost.

2. How much should I budget for my garden?

Having your garden landscaped is comparable to having a new kitchen installed. The cost usually starts at around £7,000 + VAT and can often go up to 10 times this amount, depending on the size of the garden and your design ambitions. Planting costs can vary considerably, but the majority of people spend between £1,000 and £5,000 + VAT on this part.

3. What sort of spend can I justify in relation to my property?

A well-landscaped garden will be a tangible asset to your property, and research suggests that it may improve the value by up to 10%. We therefore suggest that if you budget to spend about 7% of your property’s value, you could justifiably regard it as an investment. And of course, you’ll be able to enjoy your investment while it grows!

4. Can I spread the cost by doing my garden in stages?

Yes, this is a good idea that often leads to better results, since you will not compromise on the design by trying to squeeze too much from a tight budget! To help you avoid some costly traps, think of landscaping your garden as like making a wedding cake, which is best done in four stages:

  • Stage 1: Make all the sponge mix at the same time (i.e. do all the dirty work – clearance, drainage and digging, etc.)
  • Stage 2: Bake all the tiers at the same time, to establish the overall shape and structure (i.e. do all the hard landscaping such as patios, paths, walls, steps, pergolas, boundaries, etc. This is usually the largest cost)
  • Stage 3: Ice and fill the cake, so that it looks like a cake (i.e. add grass and plants, paint walls, sheds and fences, etc. so that your garden looks like a garden)
  • Stage 4: Decorate the cake with candles, bells and whistles! (i.e. accessorise your garden with features, pots, furniture, lighting, etc.)

You would never make one tier of a wedding cake, ice it and decorate it then start on the second tier, etc. because this is inefficient. The same logic applies to landscaping.

Many of our customers do Stages 1 & 2 together then pause to live with the new layout for a time and reflect on options for Stages 3 & 4. But bear in mind that you will need a large budget for the first two stages.

5. How much will I need to set aside for a contingency?

We understand that landscaping may cost more than you may have guesstimated, so any ‘extras’ are unwelcome. But landscaping work usually involves a degree of clearance and digging, often into the unknown. Although we may have a fair initial idea of the cost, we never really know what the landscapers will find, and whether what they find can be recycled on-site or will need to be removed off-site and replaced!

When estimating it is usual to assume ‘normal’ conditions in order to give you a reasonable idea of cost. Whilst the rest of the work is usually predictable and a fixed price usually given, clearance and excavation costs can vary considerably. The overall impact of this, however, usually falls within 5% of the total cost (although on rare occasions it can reach 10%). Most of our clients are happy to set aside a 5% contingency sum.

6. Is there anything I can do myself to help keep costs down?

Yes! Without needing any landscaping or horticultural skills you can help keep costs down by doing some or all of the following:

  • Clearance: Move pots and furniture out of the way. Cut back and shred any green waste, and take it to the recycling depot to avoid filling expensive skips (a tree surgeon can often do this at little extra cost whilst dealing with larger trees). Leave paving, brick and rubble for us to try to recycle, which will save you money on new hard core for patio bases, etc.
  • Access: The more machinery, can be used, the lower the labour cost to you. If your own access to your back garden is tight, try to persuade a neighbour to allow access from their garden via a fence panel – you will be amazed at how much extra cost can result from poor access!
  • Soil preparation: Whilst it is essential that new plants have good soil with fresh compost forked well into it, this task is labour intensive and easily done with a little help from a friend or family member. A bottle of wine or even tea and biscuits will pay for themselves in no time!
  • Painting and fence staining: Although painting walls, sheds and fences will have a very positive visual impact on your new garden, these too are very labour intensive, and worth delegating by using similar bribery tactics!
  • Features: It’s worth using the internet to save money by buying directly online items such as sculptures, furniture and some water features. Our preferred landscaper can help to install them for you. But don’t use this approach with items such as paving, building materials, plants and lighting because the very good trade discounts they receive from long-standing suppliers usually means they can be sold to you for less than you can buy them yourself.