Just as you might invite an architect in to provide advice on how to make the best use of the area inside your house, it makes sense to bring in a garden designer to gain their professional insight on how to maximise your outdoor living accommodation. 

This blog post aims to arm you with some clear guidance on what kind of service you should expect your garden designer to deliver.

Substance and style!


To many, a garden designer is responsible for artistic and creative input resulting in the origination of a stunning, designer inspired, perfectly styled garden.  And whilst this is one aspect of their job, it is most certainly not the only role of the garden designer. In addition to delivering this creative flair and visionary thinking, a garden designer is there to guide you on a number of practical issues to ensure the final design delivers the functional as well as aesthetic benefits to suit you / your family’s lifestyle.

At the heart of any well thought out garden design is an honest and open dialogue with the client at the initial consultation stage.  Most reputable designers will have a standard questionnaire, which they ask clients to complete in advance of the first meeting.  This will help to establish some of the key issues / priorities for the garden and may include:

  •  Agreeing the main functional requirements for the outdoor space e.g.. Entertaining? Rest and relaxation? Play area? Grow your own zone?
  •  Agreeing the preferred style of garden e.g. contemporary, minimalist, traditional cottage etc.
  •  Identifying the main problems with the existing design e.g. limited shade, need to create boundaries between different zones of the garden, difficult sloping aspect etc.
  •  Identifying motivating influences on choice of garden e.g. desire to be environmentally friendly, desire to incorporate certain style of planting etc.
  •  Agreeing a broad operating budget

These are just some of the obvious questions that you might be asked to consider but an experienced designer will be able to provide expert counsel on a number of specific issues.  

Design dilemmas


No two garden design projects are the same but there are a number of common challenges faced in the outdoor room, that your designer should be capable of resolving.  Here are some examples of practical responses to a few design dilemmas:

  •  Looking for a formal, sunken, concrete lined, fish pond? Always check out the water table of the garden.  In some instances it may be necessary to raise the fish pond to avoid the water pressure present in the ground causing the concrete lining to "pop" and fail 

  •  Want a lushly planted cottage garden but live in an area, which is plagued with rabbits? Avoid the unnecessary additional cost of expensive rabbit proof fencing by planting a careful selection of plants that repel rabbits  (incl. Acanthus, Agapanthus, Alliums & Delphiniums)

  •  Need to introduce a substantial boundary into a country garden but worried about obscuring the view? Try installing a ha-ha, a boundary barrier (usually a semi-ditch and a wall) which does not block out the surrounding landscape

  •  Got a small garden but needing to maximise the limited available space?  Try painting the boundary fence matt black with planting in front of it to give the illusion of a larger outdoor space

  •  Interested in installing a pale cream Travertine (a form of limestone) natural stone terrace to the back of your property?  If the garden is south facing, be aware that on a sunny day the glare from the paving will prove very uncomfortable, if not blinding.  Consider an alternative choice of paving!

  • Want an old drive or patio removed and replaced? Don’t incur additional expense by having the old patio ripped up and taken away.  You can leave the existing patio/drive in situ and use it as a sub base for the new paving

    agapanthus flower

    Work with the professionals

    One of the most important priorities when working with a garden designer is to be reassured that the project will be delivered on time and on budget, ask to see examples of previous work undertaken and take up references with past clients. Visit the BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) www.bali.org.uk and APL (Association of Professional Landscapers) www.landscaper.org.uk or the Society of Garden Designers www.sgd.org.uk to source a reputable garden designer and / or landscaper.


    Jacksons show garden

    If you are looking to gather ideas on what to do in the garden, why not visit Jacksons show gardens for some inspiration?  Open far longer than any of the official garden shows – and entry is free!