In this article we will discuss the whole design process and related costs

Compared to a major kitchen or bathroom refurbishment, creating a new garden can be more involved and complex and that’s reflected in the cost. Like an architect for your interior a garden designer’s role is similar in fashion dealing with everything from site surveys, materials specifications and the production drawings to appointing contractors to carry out the work.

How much should I expect to pay?

Many designers calculate their overall fees in different ways, in some cases, they will base this on the overall expected budget for the garden, usually between 8% and 20%. Others base their fees on the amount of time they expect to spend on the design work and their hourly rate.

For a small garden design fees can range from £1200 to £4,500 while it’s harder to give an average price for larger gardens.

As an example an average hourly rate for a designer is around £95 per hour. A fairly straightforward design would breakdown as follows:

2 hours for site survey and analysis.

4 hours for concept drawings

6 hours for technical drawings, planting plans and specifications.

Silva Landscapes

Is a smaller garden cheaper?
For smaller projects, the designer’s fee often represents a higher proportion of the overall project budget, because the work involved doesn’t diminish.

For example, a small, new-build, project costing around £20,000, which includes paving, lawn, planting, a simple water feature and lighting. The design fees for such a project would be around 14% of the total budget.

Whereas a large garden construction with major landscaping, structures, extensive paving, planting, lawn and lighting costing about £80,000 may incur design fees of around 9% of the budget.


What’s the difference between a garden designer, a landscaper and a landscape architect?
There are various professionals involved in putting together a new garden, so be clear you understand the differences between them, say our experts.

garden designer is a design specialist, but is not the person who will build the garden,they often have a garden design qualification, but not necessarily.

landscaper is a landscape contractor who will build a garden and will usually want a plan on paper to work to.

landscape architect generally deals with public spaces and will have a landscape architecture degree or MA. They don’t usually design domestic gardens.”

To complicate matters, some landscape contractors offer a ‘design and build’ service and will include the design as part of the fee. “They can be good value for money if you can find the right contractor,” Julia says.

Phil Hirst Garden Design

How is the cost spread across a project?
A garden redesign generally breaks down into five main stages: initial consultation, survey, design (concept and masterplan), construction and planting.

Costs will vary enormously, based not only on the size of garden, but on the extent of the input from the garden designer, who does the designing, and the landscape contractor, who does the building, plus any other potential specialists, such as surveyors and structural engineers, on larger or more complex projects,



Pippa Schofield Garden Design

Key Stages of a Garden Redesign Project

1. The initial consultation
This usually entails a site visit to run through the design process with the client, this also serves to give the designer an overall feel for the scale of the project.

Once an approximate build price or client budget has been ascertained then a design fee can be agreed.

Some designers will make this initial visit free of charge, others may charge for this but will make this clear when arranging the visit.



Tom Howard Garden Design and Landscaping

2. The survey and site analysis
The survey will usually be carried out by the designer enabling them to get a feel for the space and the scale of the work involved. If a project is large then a professional surveyor may well be engaged

The designer will usually want to spend time in the garden gathering information about the site and soil conditions and taking photographs as well as measuring and recording every feature of the existing garden.”

London Garden Designer

3. First design stage: The concept
The concept stage will typically account for between 25% and 50% of a designer’s overall fee as this stage can be the most time-consuming for designers.

The designer will use their creative and technical skills to look at different layouts before finding the final solution. During this time there would likely be meetings with the client to ascertain and agree any amendments to the initial designs.”

Jenny Bloom Garden Design

4. Second design stage: The masterplan
The masterplan stage will take approximately 20% and 40% of the overall design fee.

The masterplan is a refined version of the concept plan. It’s the drawing that’s the basis for any future design work, such as the planting plan, construction plan and design detailing.


It will be in the form of scaled technical drawings with all the features, changes of level, different materials and planting plans.


Kate Eyre Garden Design

5. Construction and appointing a contractor
Once a masterplan or construction package has been completed, the next stage is to appoint a contractor to build the garden. The process usually involves getting quotes from a number of contractors before appointing the most suitable one for the job.

Some designers will offer to help their clients find a contractor. This could be informally by recommending trusted contractors,” Phil says, “or through a more formal tender exercise. Where the latter is the case, the client should expect to pay for the designer’s time in preparing documentation and administering the tender process. A tender exercise would typically account for 5% to 10% of the designer’s overall fee.



Sam Butler Garden Design

6. The planting plans
Some designers will carry out the planting themselves or in conjunction with the contractor others will leave it to the contractor to carry out.

If the contractor carries out the planting, the designer will set out the plants as per the design ensuring the scheme will compliment the overall design.

The planting plans take up 15% to 25% of the overall budget.

The London Gardener Ltd

7. Site visits
Many designers will visit the site while the garden is being built to ensure construction is going to plan and any unforeseen problems that arise can be properly addressed.

This may also include certifying the contractor’s invoices for payment by the client.

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