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Garden Design - Is it worth it?

Wildflower Meadow
Wildflower Meadow

If you have come across our website then it is likely you are considering hiring a garden designer but is it worth it and what can a garden designer offer you that you can't do yourself. A garden designer can help you completely transform your garden, whether you've just moved in or want a change after many years of living in the same place. What does a garden designer actually do, and how could one really make a difference to you garden design project? Are they worth the added cost?

Your first question might be "well what can a garden designer offer me that my regular gardener or builder can't?" This is where McGeachy Garden Design are unique. Sean started as a gardener and was very lucky to work in gardens where he was able to do large scale re-designs each year. This is what first peaked his interest in design and Sean is now able to give you a gardener's perspective and a designer's perspective on gardens bring together two unique skills into one service. As a designer Sean (and other garden designers) are able to give advice on things such as spatial design, drawing/computer-aided design and planting design as well as bringing fresh perspective onto an area, budget management and specialist knowledge of plants, garden laws, drainage and problem solving.

Whilst many designers work on a design only basis, here at McGeachy Garden Design we are able to offer a design and build service including plant sourcing and installation service meaning everything is kept "inhouse" and there is no delay between the design being agreed and the project being able to start. This also means our projects team can be a part of the design process and have direct access to the designer daily to ask any questions or raise any concerns which can then be addressed immediately by Sean. Of course, like other designers, we can also offer a project management service if clients have their own landscaper for the project or provide ad-hoc consultancy during and after the project.

So how does the design process work (This is the way the process works at McGeachy Garden Design but most designers will follow a similar format):

  • First, there’s an initial consultation and site inspection where wants and needs are discussed - whilst we schedule an hour, Sean has been known to spend 3-4 hours with clients discussing their needs, their plant likes and dislikes and budgets ;

  • A brief and budget is then agreed with mood boards provided by the designer to ensure the brief has been captured.

  • A site survey including measurements follows (some clients already have plans from when they purchased the property which may be able to be used)

  • The designer produces plans and in the case of McGeachy Garden Design a 3D video of the design to showcase the design

  • Once the design has been approved, the designer will then create a scale plan and planting schedules and plans for the project installation team

  • Other garden services that might follow include the production of tender documents if multiple quotes for works are needed; project management during the build; and aftercare services such as maintenance schedules and management plans.

  • At this point many designers disengage with the process and invoice for their design, however if the McGeachy Garden Design Project Team then install the garden for you, Sean will then source all plants for the project and have weekly site visits during the project as well as being available to the Project Team as needed.

So how to choose the right Garden Designer for you:

Garden styles are a very personal choice and you need to choose a designer that you feel is most likely to interpret your wants and needs, and one who will freely offer ideas and suggestions. Spend time looking at their portfolio or website and ask to visit gardens they have done - Are the clients happy, does the design work for the family etc. Prices may vary wildly and the client-designer relationship can be a complex two-way process that needs creativity and compromise from both sides, so make sure you have someone you can see yourself working alongside.

Finally make sure your garden designer has practical knowledge of gardens, not just theoretical design ideas. Experience in designing for different people (such as children or the elderly), garden law including planning requirements and tree preservation, levels and slopes, drainage, hard landscape detailing, and an understanding of plants should be standard. Ultimately the garden needs to be practical as well as beautiful so a designer who incorporates areas such as storage, washing, refuse etc as well as beautiful planting schemes is a must. A designer who can effectively communicate their proposals to you and to the people who are going to construct the garden is also vital. You need to fully understand the ideas on the table (ideally in 3D) before paying for them, and landscape contractors, specialist fabricators, lighting engineers and water feature specialists need clear details to carry out the work as intended.

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