Gardeners Blog

How to Decide Whether to Use a Landscape Gardener or a Builder

When you are about to embark on a landscaping project that will involve hard landscaping such as walls, paving, fences and water features who would you call?

Maybe you are having or have just had an extension built by a builder who has done a fantastic job in building a two storey extension, I know I will ask him to quote and perhaps a couple of landscape gardeners too.

I hear this story time and time again to such a point I will not quote for a job if I am competing alongside a builder, why is that I might hear you ask???

Every time I have submitted my quote in direct competition the builder have always come out cheaper and this is nine times out of ten what the client excepts as they believe it is value for money.

Most builders do not submit a quote they submit an estimate, so what I hear you say again, well a quote is a fixed price and cannot be added to without written authorisation from the client and agreement with the contractor and this will usually be for added work to the original quote. An estimate is what is says an estimate of what the builder (or even landscapers) thinks it is going to cost. So when you compare all quotes and estimate and there is a huge difference you need to ask the question WHY??? I have had differences of a few hundred pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds. I hear the same old phrase which is “oh that was not included in the estimate” and then the cost starts to escalate and before you know it you are probably spending the same if not more than the landscapers quote.

Why else would you think it’s important to hire a landscaper over a builder, the answer is landscapers undergo a lot of training to lay paving, build walls, water features and put up fencing, turfing, planting, garden lighting and all other features involved in creating beautiful gardens. Not many builders are aware that random paving should never run for more than four paving units before the joint is broken or have joints that cause cross road type effects (targets). I have even seen a design I created built by a builder, due to being much cheaper, lay the whole terrace of Indian sandstone, and wait for it, UPSIDE DOWN!!!

We haven’t even started on plant names etc; there are many reasons why you should use a landscaper over a builder. When you are going to create a stunning outside living space make sure it is done professionally, looks fantastic and you never have to do it again.

Ask yourself one more question would you ask a Landscape Gardener to quote to build your extension or loft conversion???

Thanks for taking the time read this article.

Paul Bentley
MSGD MBALI ARB

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How to Design Landscapes for Narrow Gardens

Garden Design 

Narrow Gardens by a Landscape Gardener

Narrow gardens present a great challenge when designing and building and this can be overcome by some imaginative ideas such as:

  • Introduction of curves
  • Changes in levels
  • Water features
  • Planting

Firstly when planning any landscape gardening project you need to carry out a thorough detailed survey and take photos to remind yourself of any aspects of the original garden.

Then begin the design process starting from the inside (the heart of the garden) and work outwards. Do not design a garden around the boundaries or you will only reflect the boundary lines, keep playing with curves, lines and junctions until you are happy with the flow.

When designing the garden be mindful of the client brief, this is about the most important part as not listening to the client will result in a design they will never be satisfied with and subsequently you are unlikely to be successful in sealing the contract for the build.

Small narrow gardens are great fun to work with as you can achieve so much and introduce many features and aspects to create an interesting garden design.

From the above pictures you can see how the curved path takes your eye away from the straight boundary lines and leads you down the garden, once the blocking structural shrubs, that are located in strategic positions, fully develop will change the aspect once again and give the impression of ‘what’s down the path and around the corner’.
Here we have many features that the client wished for such as:

  • Raised shrub borders
  • Water feature
  • No lawn
  • Substantial terrace for entertaining
  • White, blue and pink planting
  • New fencing
  • Aggregate pathway (8mm – 10mm Scottish pebbles)
  • Textured paving (Indian Sandstone)

This garden was designed by Paul Bentley MBALI MSGD and constructed by a Landsape Gardener in September 2011.

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