Design Process

I work with clients in many different ways. 

For one-off advice on specific issues, visits are charged on an hourly basis.  This advice can cover design ideas, build suggestions, plant identification or planting recommendations or advice on how to deal with problem areas. 

My design packages range from simple idea sketches through to detailed scale plans and elevations incorporating material specifications and detailed planting plans.  Depending upon the scale of the project these designs can either be implemented by the homeowner, myself and a small team; or briefed and project managed via a landscaping firm to execute. 

Although every commission/ garden is different I find that generally, a three-step process occurs 1. Assessment 2. Design (structural and planting) 3. Build.

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1. Assessment

Initial Consultation

The initial step is a visit to your garden where we can discuss your ideas and vision and the potential of the site.  My aim is to understand how you would like to use the garden: a sanctuary for peace and tranquillity, a private space for family time or as an extension of the house for entertaining and creating a wow-factor for visitors. 

From this meeting I will produce a design brief to summarise the discussions and capture our vision for the garden; the brief will also outline the potential design service options and provide an indication of the scale of fees and costs. 

Initial visits are at least two hours and if you decide to progress to a design then the visit is not chargeable. 

2. Design 

Upon acceptance, we will work together to create a mood board, either using Pinterest or my extensive collection of gardening books.  This ensures I completely understand what inspires and moves you and my design can bring this to life for your site.

2.a  Site Survey

I will survey the garden including existing trees and structures as well as light levels, soil type and condition.  The survey ensures that there is clarity on the boundaries of the property, levels of privacy and any areas that are overlooked.  For large complex sites or where the client is building a new property I recommend using a professional surveyor.

2.b Design Development

I will sketch up initial designs to show how the garden can be structured and we will review together to ensure that brings to life your dream garden.  Depending on the level of involvement that you wish to have, this can be an iterative process between us. 

Once we have agreed the rough sketches I revisit the site and make any onsite adjustments/ refinements and then draw up scale plans and elevations.  These plans include the specification of materials for the hard landscaping along with laying patterns and measurements.

 

If you are planning to use your own architect or landscaping firm, or build the project yourself, these designs form the detailed brief and include the precise measurements and materials specification required to execute the design.

Bespoke design for individual components such as summerhouses, water features, arches, gates, footbridges and watercourses can be included as necessary.

2.c  Planting Plan

I create planting schemes to suit not only your tastes and the style of the garden but also your lifestyle; whether this is a low maintenance scheme that requires minimal ongoing upkeep or a more comprehensive planting scheme that comes with a month-by-month plan for the ongoing maintenance of the garden. 

 

I work with the client to ensure that their personal likes and dislikes in terms of flower type, colour and foliage are incorporated.  I always follow Beth Chatto’s ethos of “Right Plant, Right Place” and over the years I have developed a wide range of tried and tested plants that are great performers.

Trees and shrubs will be specified throughout. General planting specifications will be provided for each section of the garden, with a full list of proposed plants, An online guide to managing all plants, shrubs and trees used will be provided using the ‘Shoot’ website’s excellent application. 

Unless specified otherwise my aim is to deliver planting plans for 4 season impact – i.e. early bulbs, various evergreen colours, winter flowering specimens like hellebores, autumn colour and normal mid spring to late summer including bulbs, shrubs and perennials. 

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3. Build

With decades of experience of garden construction, I complete some smaller projects as a hands-on design and build, with a team of labourers and craftsmen on call as required.  For other assignments, I project manage architects, landscapers and specialists to oversee the delivery of the design.  The scale of the project will influence the build approach.

3.a  Appointing Contractors

I regularly work with clients who are building new homes and will work with architects and building contractors so that your dream garden can be aligned with your plans for your new home.  Alternatively I work with a number of trusted contractors and landscaping firms who can execute the design.  I also work closely with a number of suppliers for specialist areas such as lighting or electrical contractors. 

3.b Project Management

Generally I undertake the project management of most of my designs.  If you are building a new home at the same time then you may wish to use the project manager provided by your architects and I will work with them to ensure the sequence of works required for the garden are incorporated into the overall build plan so earthworks and the building of structural elements such as walls, patios etc. can be incorporated. 

If I am acting as project manager I will prepare a schedule of works which forms the project plan.  This will detail the sequence of the build and provide time frames for each element. 

3.c Build

Each build is different but the standard sequence tends to be:

  1. Site clearance – potting on of existing plants and shrubs to be retained; landscaping and digger work, drainage, tree root management, laying of any pipe work and cabling

  2. Walls, steps and hard structures – e.g. walled gardens, external brick and stone buildings

  3. Paving and water features

  4. Other landscape surfaces e.g. gravel

  5. Woodwork - fences, pergolas, summerhouses etc.

  6. Soil improvement and planting hedging, trees and shrubs

  7. Planting perennials, annuals and bulbs

  8. Lay the lawns.

3.d Planting

I will source bulbs, plants, shrubs and trees from my recommended nurseries and complete the planting myself with specialist support.  Details of the zoned planting design are refined onsite by eye as the plants are positioned prior to digging in. Bulbs can be easily planted in drifts before a final layer of topsoil is placed above them.

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Additional Services

These services are offered for design and build clients to ensure that the design is fully realised and the garden continues to look good for many years to come.

Lighting

Make the most of your outdoor space after dark.  I would recommend that every client specifies lighting as part of the design process.  I develop lighting plans to light the space: highlighting planting and features and bringing the design to life after dusk; this not only makes the garden a wonderful place to be but also makes it visible from the house.  I work with specialist suppliers who provide both standard and low voltage lighting solutions.

Sourcing Unique Features

I can provide individual, one-off features to make a garden truly unique. Whether it’s historical and character pieces, benches, summerhouses, sculptures, gates, ironwork, customised bird tables, dovecotes, water features, summerhouses, rare paving materials, old potting tables, Victorian sewing machine tables, vintage garden tools etc.  I always have a selection of antique and vintage items available or can source specific pieces to add that extra touch to your garden.

Topiary

With over 40 pieces of topiary in my own garden I’ve become an expert at pruning.  I offer ongoing maintenance of topiary features to ensure that the piece retains its shape and looks crisp year round.  Tools and materials are thoroughly sterilised between every job to reduce any risk of spreading diseases.

Bespoke Water Features

I believe that no garden should be without water.  While there are many stunning water features on the market that can be specified and implemented as part of a design, there are many instances where I will create unique, bespoke water features.

Bespoke Feature Design

I can design individual components such as summerhouses, water features, arches, gates, footbridges and watercourses and manage the construction and installation of these features.

Seasonal Visits

My gardens are planned and planted for year-round interest but ongoing seasonal visits can be scheduled to develop and refresh beds and borders for the season ahead.  In addition, I offer clients a service to provide and plant annuals for pots and planters.

Bespoke feature design

I can design individual components such as summerhouses, water features, arches, gates, footbridges and watercourses, as well as unique designs for paving & screens, and manage the construction and installation of these features. 

Bespoke water features

I believe that no garden should be without water.  While there are many stunning water features on the market that can be specified and implemented as part of a design, there are many instances where I will create unique, bespoke water features. 

Seasonal visits

My gardens are planned and planted for year round interest but ongoing seasonal visits can be scheduled to develop and refresh beds and borders for the season ahead.  In addition, I offer clients a service to provide and plant annuals for pots and planters. 

Contact Me

Please get in contact to discuss how we can create your dream garden.   

I’d be delighted to visit you at your garden, show you round my own garden or arrange to meet by appointment at some of my other completed projects.

Build process

Garden build process including contractor appointment, project management and final planting.