Do you have questions about landscaping your garden? You might the answers in this article.
We’re answering some of our most frequently asked questions about landscaping. Scroll down to find the answers you need.
- Do I need a garden design?
- What will landscaping cost?
- How soon can work begin?
- What is the best time of year for landscaping?
- Is it safe to be in my garden while landscapers are working?
- How long does it take to complete a garden makeover?
- Will landscaping make gardening less work?
- Can I choose what plants and materials my landscaper uses?
- Is landscaping noisy?
- Do I need to stay home while my garden is being landscaped?
Do I need a garden design?
For most garden makeovers, a garden design is absolutely essential. For smaller projects where there are no changes in levels, no issues with the garden and you can be really clear about what you need doing, a good landscaper may be able to create up their own construction drawings. But this is not the norm.
For gardens like this one – with slopes and/or changing levels – a garden design is crucial so that the landscaper knows exactly what to build and the client knows what to expect
You wouldn’t build an extension to your home or fit a new kitchen without a carefully drawn plan and a set of measurements for the builder to work from. A garden makeover can be a big financial commitment, so a set of vague instructions, just isn’t enough. You do need a garden design.
Alan Sargent is an experienced Gardens Consultant who acts as an independent expert when there is a dispute between landscapers and their clients. In a recent blog, he says
“Not one of the (almost) two hundred cases I reviewed when writing this article, had a professionally produced set of plans. The vast majority had little or nothing in the way of contractual documentation, or had strayed away from the original agreement without proper use of other contractual methods such as Variation Orders, and NONE of those examined in retrospect had been constructed using any professional plans.”
What will landscaping cost?
Quite possibly one of the most frequently asked questions about landscaping – and one that deserves a blog post all of it’s own. Every garden is different, depending on the work that you want done, the materials used, and any challenges on site.
How soon can work begin?
The best landscapers get booked up quickly and you may find yourself on a waiting list. Be very wary of contractors who offer an almost immediate start with no garden design and no contract required. They may very well be rogue traders.
If you need your garden makeover completed in time for a special event, please discuss this with your landscaper at the very first phone call or meeting. It can be frustrating for both parties to put in a lot of work specifying a project only to discover that the work cannot be completed in time.
What is the best time of year for landscaping?
We landscapers work all year round, only stopping for severe weather conditions such as deep snow, flooding or extreme heat. So to some extent and allowing for waiting lists, we can usually landscape the garden when it’s convenient to you.
Many people prefer work to go ahead during autumn, winter and early spring, when they are least likely to be using their gardens. However, landscaping could also be done during the summer months, for example to tidy the garden after building work, or when you are away on holiday and not using your driveway etc.
Is it safe to use my garden while landscapers are working?
Safety is one of the most important questions about landscaping. And the answer is what sets professionals apart from rogue traders
Professional landscapers always comply with CDM regulations. Which means that they take a great deal of care to make sure that everyone on site is as safe as possible.
If we are doing groundworks – any steep drops, holes or trip hazards will highlighted with lights and/or barriers to avoid nasty falls.
Equipment and tools are tidied away when not in use and we do everything we can to avoid accidents.
Having said that – we do work more efficiently when we’re not worrying about untrained people on site, or people who may not be wearing appropriate safety clothing and equipment.
If you need access to parts of your garden while it’s being landscaped, please discuss this with your project manager before work begins. That way he or she can make plans to optimise your safety.
How long does it take to complete a garden makeover?
That depends entirely upon the garden. You have probably seen TV shows where a garden makeover is completed within 3 days. Please put those shows to the back of your mind – they have been heavily edited and you probably don’t see that there are a lot of people working on them – most of whom don’t appear on the program.
For a landscaping project to be done well – well enough to last for decades – great care needs to be taken with the foundations. When building hard surfaces such as driveways or patios, your landscaper may use concrete which takes a few days to set before the next part of the job can start. There is no sense in rushing!
Discuss time-frames with your landscaper so that you know what to expect.
Will landscaping make gardening easier for me?
Usually, yes. A well landscaped garden will have clever features to negate some of the most fiddly gardening jobs. Edgings for example keep gravel where it should be and stop your lawn encroaching into your flower beds.
Good choices of materials and tricks like sealing porous pavers will avoid stains – but you will still need to sweep your patios and paths from time to time.
Use of mulch will keep weeds at bay and your landscaper can advise on lower maintenance planting schemes. He or she can also install automatic irrigation systems to save you having to water your garden.
Talk to your garden designer and your landscaper about the levels of maintenance you can manage for your new garden.
Can I choose which plants and materials my landscaper uses?
Absolutely yes! The final choice should always be yours but please remember that your landscaper has a lot of experience in this area and that some landscaping materials might not be a perfect fit for your lifestyle.
Aesthetics isn’t everything and neither is budget. You will be living with your garden for a long time so think about functionality first. It may be important to you that your patio is slip-resistant and stain proof, or that your drive is able to take the weight of heavier vehicles. Some materials take longer to install (and therefore cost more in labour) than others. And not every plant will thrive in your garden – no matter how good they look on Gardener’s World!
In short – yes, you can choose your landscaping materials, but please listen to your landscaper’s advice before finalising your decision.
Is landscaping noisy?
Sometimes, yes. We may need to use machinery to move soil and contour your garden. At times, our tree surgeons may use chainsaws and our slab layers will need stone saws and cement mixers to do their work.
Most landscapers however, especially if they are APL members, will do their utmost to be considerate to you and your neighbours. We try not to strike up noisy machines too early in the morning and we’ll do our best to be quiet when the baby is asleep.
On the flip side of the coin – landscaping can be used to reduce the amount of noise in your garden. Need to block out road noise? Talk to a landscaper.
Do I need to stay at home when my garden is being landscaped?
This is one of the questions about landscaping that isn’t asked as often as it should be.
It’s important – very important – that you are confident that whoever is working on your property is 100% trustworthy. If, when you meet your landscaper for a preliminary site meeting, you don’t feel comfortable, then please ask other companies for quotes.
From the landscaper’s point of view, it’s good to have access to an outside tap and perhaps an electric plug socket, but other than that, we bring everything with us that we need. Portaloos, packed lunches, big batteries, and a generator if necessary.
So no, you don’t need to take time off work to be on site for the landscapers….unless of course, you want to.
Got another question?
Our team is always on hand to help answer your questions about landscaping. Or, you could visit the APL website where you’ll find a wealth of information about what to expect from a landscaping project.
Buying a garden – advice from the experts on how to avoid common pitfalls.
Building stylish gardens in Surrey – a close look at the work of Manor Landscapes