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We hope below some of these FAQ’s will be really useful, but if you have a burning question that isn’t answered here please do give us a call on 01279 721 461 or email us and we will do our best to answer any questions you might have.


Why do I need a garden Designer?

We are most commonly commissioned when someone has just bought or renovated a house and wants to develop the garden as well. We also receive enquiries from people who want to transform or rejuvenate their outdoor spaces. Often you may be thinking of undertaking work in the garden yourself. Designing and building gardens is a challenging process and requires a diverse range of creative, technical and horticultural knowledge to deliver successful results. We advise you get in touch with us if you are planning any garden developments to see if we can be of assistance.

What type of gardens do you design?

We work across a broad range of sites, such as courtyards, roof gardens/roof terraces, show gardens, public parks, walled gardens, and town and country gardens.

Is there a minimum or maximum size garden you will design?

We produce stylised gardens based on your requirements, and the style of the property and location. These may range from roof terrace design, contemporary garden design, modern garden design, classic gardens, traditional garden design, formal gardens, wild gardens and more. Please refer to our Portfolio for examples of our work across a broad range of garden styles.

Do you work on your own or in a team?

We are a multi-disciplinary team of garden designers and landscape architects. We also have close links to a number of contractors and consultants who advise on specialist areas.

Will I work with the same garden designer throughout the project?

There will be one or two people who are your primary contacts throughout the process. We do use our staff resources to our advantage, so different people may be in contact throughout the process as and when they might be required.

How many people work on a garden design?

The whole team! There will be one or two designers who lead the design and produce the vast majority of drawings, but we always get input from everyone in the team so we can deliver the highest level of design.

When is the best time to get your garden designed?

We can design a garden in any season, and work throughout the year on different projects. Depending on the time of year you contact, we will advise on the best programme of works right from design inception, through to build completion.

How do I know they are a professional Designer?

We are accredited by the Society of Garden Designers (SGD), the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and have a chartered member of The Landscape Institute (CMLI) within our practice. These governing bodies regulate the industry and separate professional designers and contractors from the rest.

What does a garden design include?

Much depends on which stages you are having carried out. Generally, the first level of the garden design (the Outline Plan) will provide you with a scaled complete layout of all the areas agreed in the Design Brief, showing location of all hard and soft landscape surfaces, making suggestions to materials and features. The plan may also include locations of key plants such as trees, hedges and topiary, and comes with a set of written notes which itemise each item and give a description of what that item is or could be. From here, the next stage is the detailed garden design, which provides a full package of drawings from which to quote for the build of the garden. For more information please refer to our Design Process page.

I’m thinking of having an extension built or am renovating my house and then want to have my garden designed. When should I contact a garden designer?

Ideally, as soon as possible. The earlier we can get on board the better, that way we can prepare the landscape design documentation concurrently with the building works on the house. Once both have finished, the landscaping work can commence, minimising the amount of time between getting your interior finished and finishing the exterior. Often people wait until the house works have been completed before contacting us, and don’t account for the duration of the design and build process.

Can garden designers just come to our property and give us some ideas?

Yes. If you do not wish to commit to any physical design work, we offer a consultation/ advice service where we visit you at the property and discuss the site, giving ideas and inspiration for you to take forward in your own direction. We do charge for this work, on a time/fee basis.


What areas do you cover?

We cover all of London and the Home Counties including Hertfordshire, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Middlesex. We also work nationally and internationally. Please feel free to call us for an initial chat so we can understand more about your garden design requirements, and how this might work with where you are based.


How do I appoint a garden designer?

To get the process started, we offer an initial garden design consultation service, whereby we visit you at the property in question and spend some time together talking through ideas and understanding the space and advising on potential solutions. These garden design consultations typically last an hour. We will then return to the office and prepare a preliminary design brief based on the meeting, along with a quote for the first stages of the design process; Site Survey and Outline Plan. This provides you with all the information necessary to start the design process.

How do I commission a garden designer?

The quickest way to do this is by visiting our Contact page and either getting in touch by phone, e-mail or fill out the enquiry form on the page itself.

What information do I need to provide to a garden designer?

When we first get in contact with you, we will ask for some brief details of the garden and property itself (including a few photos), and what you are intending to achieve. Don’t worry if you haven’t got accurate details of the size – we will be able to calculate that when we visit site.

How many times do you visit the garden?

We may visit site several times over the course of the process. This includes the first garden Design Consultation visit, the Site Survey and any other visits required to produce the optimum solution for that site. We also monitor the garden when construction works are being carried out, to ensure the garden is built exactly as intended.

How long will it take for my garden to be designed?

Much depends on the scale and complexity of your garden design and its requirements. As a rough guide, the initial garden design will be completed in 2-4 weeks. The following stages of the process may take another 2-6 weeks to complete, before a quotation can be produced for building works. Planning applications may take subsequently longer due to council lead times. We have completed gardens in 6 weeks from start to finish, some larger gardens have been an ongoing relationship over many years, but an average London garden would take perhaps 3-4 months from start to finish (concept designs thru to completed garden build)

What are the stages of a garden design?

There are multiple stages to the overall garden design package. These stages can be found on our garden Design Process page.

Can I pick and choose which stages of garden design I want?

Sometimes. We will advise you of which stages are most pertinent to enable successful building work on the garden. Likewise if you are not intending to build your garden in the foreseeable future, you may choose to simply have an outline design produced.

What is the difference between an outline plan and presentation plan?

An outline plan provides you with the general garden layout and feel of the garden. It focuses on spatial feeling and aesthetic intent, but has no detail from which to build from. The presentation plan is the evolution of this, and provides exact details, measurements and specifications of all hard landscaping surfaces, interfaces and features. This plan, along with construction details, can be given to any professionally approved garden Contractor and will allow them to construct your garden successfully.

Why do I need to have garden construction details?

Construction details are an integral part of the detailed garden design package, and specify exactly how to build the elements within a garden. Without the construction details, the design is open to interpretation by the Contractor, and may not end up being built quite as either you or we intended.

Do garden designers make 3D models of the garden?

We can make scaled computer models of your garden design which allow you to see any angle or viewpoint of the design to aid you in getting a clear understanding of the space. This is offered as an additional service.

Do garden designers handle planning applications?

We offer an integral service of dealing with planning applications for gardens which we have designed or are commissioned to design. These commonly include listed buildings consent, planning permission and conservation area approval.


How do you calculate the costs of a garden design?

We take a variety of factors into consideration when quoting for a garden design. These may include the size and complexity of the site, (such as level changes, boundary detail, and existing features) as well as the requirements and aspirations you have for the new garden design. We like to be open and transparent, and our overall aim is to make the process work for you.

How much will my garden cost to design?

There is no set pricing or specific formula for quantifying costs on a garden an indicative cost could be in the region of 15% of the overall build cost, but each project is individual and is quoted as such. Please do get in contact if you wish to obtain a specific quote for your garden design.


How much should I spend on my garden (& garden design)?

Collectively, the three governing bodies of the industry (BALI, SGD and APL) recommend homeowners spend a guideline budget of between 4 and 10% of the current value of the property. This could be higher or lower depending on the property itself and your requirements, and the relative size of the garden to the property.

How much will it cost to build my garden?

Much like design fees,each project is individual and depends on a number of factors; primarily the final garden design. Other considerations such as machine access, site facilities and parking restrictions may also have an effect on the final cost. Once the detailed garden design stages are completed, we can provide you with a fixed quote for the construction of the garden design.


Construction/ Build

Yes. We can see the entire design and build process through from inception to completion – that makes the process simple and efficient for you. We may sub-contract some of the build work out to specialists where necessary, but this will be managed by us, so you only deal with our company.

Do garden designers do the planting work too?

Yes. We can handle the plant sourcing, purchasing and installation for you, so you don’t have to. We work with a wide range of UK based plant and tree nurseries to provide the highest quality plant stock, that is disease free.

How long does it take to build a garden?

That will depend greatly on the size, complexity and materiality of each individual project, not to mention the effects of adverse weather conditions. Typically, from start to finish the minimum garden build timeframe is around 4 weeks, ranging up to months and even years, relative to the project.

How to find a trusted landscape Contractor?

We having been working closely with a select few BALI approved landscape Contractors for several years now. We will manage the garden build process and handle the landscape Contractor for you, so you only deal with us – making the whole process simple and efficient.

How do I know they are a professional landscape Contractor?

Professional, trustworthy contractors will be accredited and approved by the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) – they will be displaying the logo on any of their vehicles and promotional material. They may also be registered with the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL).

Can I source the materials myself?

To make the garden built logistically and financially efficient, we will supply all of the materials. If you wish to ensure a particular material is selected, ensure we are aware at the Presentation Plan stage so we can incorporate it into the design.

Can I source the plants myself?

We have close relationships with a number of the best nurseries across the UK which aren’t open to the public, and as such we can supply the best quality stock at competitive rates – much cheaper than garden centres. We handle the procurement process for plants, so you don’t have to.

How big will the plants be when they are planted?

Trees and specimen shrubs are generally planted as semi-mature stock (meaning they will look like trees, not like seedlings). Shrubs and perennials however are generally supplied at small sizes, but take much less time to establish and mature. Hedges have the biggest variation and can be supplied anywhere from seedling to instant.

How long will it be before the planting in my garden starts to mature?

We may offer you a number of options at the build quotation stage for how mature the plants will be at soft landscaping installation stage. This relates particularly to trees, shrubs and hedges where there is a wide range of maturities and associated costs available – so you will have some contribution to choosing how long the maturing process takes. Commonly, gardens we have designed take between 2-5 years to mature, some much longer, some are instant.


How do I maintain the garden design?

Once the garden is completed, you have a number of options for garden maintenance. Firstly, we can put you in contact with local trusted gardeners and horticulturalists that are competent and knowledgeable enough to maintain the planting aspects of the design. The hard landscaping materials and features will have excellent durability and longevity and should require minimal maintenance. We are always happy to offer advice on maintenance tips for gardens we have designed.

Do garden designers offer garden maintenance?

We offer written maintenance plans which provide a month-by-month guide to handling all the aspects of the garden maintenance, including all hard and soft landscaping. We do not provide a maintenance service directly for Residential clients, but can put you in contact with approved maintenance Contractors who are capable of managing the garden. We also offer further garden advice and visits to the garden to review the maintenance and make recommendations for improvement. This is an additional service which we charge for on a time/fee basis.

How much garden maintenance is involved in a designed garden?

This varies greatly depending on the size of the garden, with particular regard to its planting areas. As a part of the Design Brief, we will ask you roughly how much time you are able to dedicate to garden maintenance; whether it is yourself or a gardener who will be carrying out the work, and we will design the garden and planting scheme accordingly.


What is the difference between a garden designer and a landscape architect?

There are many similarities that garden designers and landscape architects share in terms of the principles and design abilities which are employed in day to day work. The main differences are in their training and accreditation, as well as the types of spaces and places which they are involved with. A garden designer might typically work on private gardens, whereas a landscape architect might work on commercial sites. Having said this Aralia have a multi-disciplinary team of fully trained garden designers, and accredited landscape architects, and we work across the full spectrum.

Top tips for designing your garden

There are lots to think about and if you are struggling or want the eye of a garden expert cast over your outdoor space a garden designer can lead you through the jungle! Here are some top tips. Do a Pintrest board to pull together ideas of gardens that you have seen that you like Discover what it is that you want to use your garden for. Is it for entertaining, relaxing, or for kids to play in? Be realistic about what will fit into your garden. If you’ve got a hectic lifestyle keep it simple. Simplicity is the key! Get rid of clutter. Stick with a couple of good natural materials – Old York stone works well in traditional gardens, while contemporary styles could make use of natural hardwood. If in doubt throw it out Strike the right balance – ignoring the natural elements can leave some gardens looking cold and lifeless. Don’t just pick a design that looks good in a brochure – it may not work for you, as every garden is individual.

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