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Garden Design

I've been asked to design a garden and I'm struggling with the budget.  They need a lot of hard landscaping, 90 square metres, and the budget is £10,000 for the whole garden. They want a gazebo that costs £2000,00 and so £8000,00 for plants and hard landscaping. Im not a hard landscaper so I'm struggling with this side. I've been quoted £5500,00 for labour and hardcore/sand. The pavers are £2600,00. The garden is on a slope with a fall of about a foot. Is this reasonable? This is the first design I have done to include hard landscaping, all I've done before is planting this is completely new to me. I would appreciate any input...



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  • I'm not a hard landscaper so not gonna comment on the price, but all you can do is get a few quotes and present them to the client. What they do with it is then up to them ie up their budget, tweek the design a bit. ........

  • PRO

    Hi Geri

     First of all, don't be tempted to fit your client's requirement (wish list) into their budget if it's not a realistic proposition.

    I very quickly learned that it's wise to get an idea of what a client wants then manage their expectations thereafter. £10,000 is a lot of money but if the client's desire is for a landscape that cost's £15,000 then obviously they are not being realsitic.

    As Glen says, get quotes for the build from reputable companies and then push this back to your client for theirconsideration. They will quickly realise that they will have to either compromise on materials and/or plants or up their budget.

    At this stage make sure that everything you write is covered by terms and conditions.

    • PRO

      Thanks for the great reply. My builder is expecting me to pay for the materials. Is this normal? Is there a template for terms and conditions that you would recommend?


      Thanks again


      • PRO

        Geri, It migh be worth considering upgrading to Pro menbership on LJN as this would give you access to The Business Objectives Group and the Document Bank which contains a considerable number of documents, temnplates etc and a safe place to discuss delicate or client issues etc

        I'm sure many of us have been in similar situations and I know I wished such facilities and suport had been available in my early days.

  • Time to walk away I think.


    • Really? Seems a bit drastic. From the limited information from geri it doesn't seem as if the clients have been difficult so far, they just need prices presented to them and their expectations managed.

  • I think we have all come across a similar situation and it is our job, as Glen says, to manage the clients' expectations with reality.  If £10k is their limit, it's a nice sum of money, then work your design to that.  Who has come up with "90sq m" of paving? Quite often an area of paving can be cut by 10-20% with little detrimental impact and often works as an improvement.10 sq m of paving saved could buy a lot of soft landscaping.

  • Hi Geri,

    I’ve found that when you’re costing/quoting for a creative project where the client must necessarily place a lot of faith in your ability to deliver, assessing and quoting for the job by separating your fee from the material costs (and other services and expertise that you have to buy in) often works well. That way, the cost of your time is protected (unless you underestimate your input, which can happen a lot at the outset).

    I'm surprised that the hardlanscaper wants you to provide materials, as I would expect him/her to have a trade account and to be making a % on material costs. Can you open one and take advantage of that?

    Not always easy to begin with, but you may find a good hard landscaper who will give you a 5-10% ‘finders fee’ for passing the work on and could develop a regular working relationship based upon that premiss. I’ve passed £1000s worth of work to a firm that is my first port of call for tasks that I don’t undertake myself and they offered me 10% which is no small amount over the year. Think partnerships and mutually beneficial working. It can be quite rewarding!

    As for staying true to your standards and values vis a vis what can be promised and for how much, that’s a matter of confidence really. I think that I ‘bought’ work for the first five years of my creative life (in a different field, admittedly) by undercharging massively while I built up my experience and reputation.

    Practically speaking, offer a range of hard landscaping materials to suit first the budget, then the aspirations, and perhaps a middle way too. The client will then (hopefully) see the difference in quality or settle for something within the stated price range. Sometimes, more expensive doesn’t look better than less so, though mostly I find that you get what you pay for.

    Hope that helps. 

  • PRO

    I was here (as in the same place last week) a new client wanting their sloping lawn levelled....there was a steep drop at the end of the garden and manholes (as in a sewer) running across the garden.

    I told them very nicely to get a ground works or grown up hard landscaping company in. When they have done the works I will happily design and plant up the resulting beds.

    I Ithink there is just too much that can go wrong if you get commercially involved in something like this. Especially if it is being attempted on the cheap from the start

  • I think it's worth remembering that people will pay much more than £10K for an extension to their house.  Some people  think that building work for a large terrace  or anything in the garden is going to be cheaper yet it can involve the same amount of time and materials.  Time spent clearing and levelling the space to start work, getting materials in from the road, etc  all adds up as well as skilled labour laying slabs.

    I would get the landscaper to get materials - they are responsible for doing the work and project managing it.  You may monitor work to make sure it's coming out as per the design, and charge for that, but that's different from being there every day and managing the project.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards,



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