LJN Blog Posts

PRO
Tips on choosing a landscaper, garden designer or gardener

Please note that this is a referral service only and Landscape Juice does NOT recommend its members - before entering into a transaction, please refer read the following carefully.

If you feel comfortable with a contractor and how they put themselves across, then you are at liberty to ask them further questions either via email or by telephone.

Don't feel rushed; the process is an important one and, let's face it, you are likely to be signing up to spend several hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.

Here are a few Dos and Don'ts when choosing a garden contractor:

Do write a brief before you have spoken to anyone. Having a clear idea of what you need to achieve is essential, especially as all traders should be given the same information. It’s fairer to them and important for you to be able to compare what they say on a like-for-like basis.

Do spend time on research. Click through to contractors’ websites from their profile page on Landscape Juice Network and get a feel for their business. Look at their ''before and after” photos. Be sure that you are initially comfortable with the person or business that you decide to contact.

Do compile a list of contractors in your locality and whittle it down until you are happy with your choice; three contractors is an ideal number. More than three and the whole process could become jumbled and complicated. Less than three and you will not have sufficient information with which to compare the estimates.

Do write a specification based on your brief, or ask one contractor to write a specification as part of their service. You may have to pay for this service, so check before making a commitment. This specification should go to all the contractors.

Do tell your contractor what you have to spend and don't try to play one contractor off against another or trick anyone into getting the price as low as possible. Look upon the transaction that you are about to undertake as an equal partnership and not as a “them and us” scenario. Ask a friend or family member to join you during the quotation process if you unsure about dealing with the contractor yourself.

Do ask to talk to previous clients and, better still, try to visit their gardens, as this is the best way to vet a contractor’s work. Many landscape contractors develop a special bond with their clients and it is evident when a job has gone well and both parties are happy with the results. This is genuinely reflected in testimonials or at on-site meetings and cannot be faked.

Do ask to see samples of materials. There are many types of materials with varying costs associated with them. A real York stone patio can cost substantially more than a imitation stone patio. Similarly, there are different grades of turf, and trees and shrubs can cost a little or a lot depending on the size you specify.

Don't rush the process, or you may make costly errors. You should allow 2-4 months (sometimes longer, depending on the complexity of the project) from the time you provide a brief, through to receiving the design and the quote. That way, you will be able to make decisions at a pace that suits you and, more importantly, get the right results.

Clients will be looking for the best possible job at the best possible price, but, as previously stated, you are entering a partnership. Every contract should be mutually beneficial.

A landscaper, designer or gardener can be a very skilled person who may have spent many years studying and learning their trade through hard work and on-the-job experience. It is this experience and skill that you are paying for; do not, whatever else you do, expect to pay too little. Garden contractors deserve to be paid the right fee for their time and their skills.

What does landscaping cost?

Because of the vast potential for variation, it is not possible to define landscaping costs precisely. The right contractor will assist you by explaining where the money will be spent, and if you follow the above advice and consult a minimum of three contractors, you’ll find it easier to understand where costs are attributed.

Bear in mind that a larger contractor may have to charge you VAT on top of the price of the work. The contractor is not benefiting from this extra money as it has to be collected from you and sent on to HM Customs and Excise.

Don't ask for cash discounts to avoid VAT and don't expect to be asked for cash. Keeping the transaction on an official level is a safeguard for you as cash payments and a lack of paperwork may make it difficult to enforce a warranty or guarantee. It also reflects poorly on the contractor if payments are made via a brown paper bag.

Do expect a full set of paperwork from a contractor. You should receive a typed quotation (or estimate) that reflects your brief or specification. Supporting information should include a set of terms and conditions, a copy of the contractor’s insurance certificate, a code of conduct (for firms employing staff) a schedule of works so that you can understand how long the work will take.

Glossary:

Quote or quotation. This is a fixed price and is binding by law. The cost may only vary if you ask the contractor to provide services or materials not included in the quotation. A quote is the safest option because there will be no extras to pay and any mistakes made during the pricing process will be the responsibility of the contractor.

Estimates are supplied in certain circumstances where a project might not be clearly definable. If you agree to receive an estimate, be sure to understand where price variation might occur.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –
PRO

Phil

Comments

  • PRO
    A very good summary. I would draw particular attention to providing a budget. It is so difficult when customers refuse to give you a budget when there is any element of design involved. It starts the whole process with an air of mistrust and in the end, it means they can't make a fair comparison between contractors/designers. To say nothing of the difficulty of flailing around trying to take a guess at what the customer can afford when designing their garden.
  • One more thing to pay attention is the garden design process. The cost is also depending on the design process, designer and the size of the garden or project. It can be started with site survey, concept plan, visualisations, master plan, planting, lightening and more.

  • The cost of landscape design is a variable and primarily depends on the desires of the customer and his financial capabilities.

This reply was deleted.

You need to be a member of Landscape Juice Network to add comments!

Join Landscape Juice Network

Highlighted blog posts

Open forum activity

Glen Stillman posted a discussion
Morning guys and gal's, I've just bought a second hand etesia pbts, I just needed something cheap to see me through the autumn. Very pleased with it, but seems to have a very weak drive. I'm assuming (hoping) a new drive belt will sort this, is ther…
17 minutes ago
Robbie replied to Lewis Hetherington's discussion Charging over 12 months rather than per visit
"I started it this year for grass cutting. From now on all new clients will be on this via go cardless. I run it from feb - dec (11 months), though any adhoc work like hedge cutting is invoiced for on the day.  It's great how muchmore  free time it g…"
1 hour ago
Carl Chaney replied to Carl Chaney's discussion Subbies contracts?
"Hi Osh,
 
Thank you for your reply - sorry it's taken me a while to see it!
great starting point to tweak for us. Thanks again!
 
H"
1 hour ago
Vic 575 replied to Gary RK's discussion Anyone can cut grass .....
"It is true that anyone can cut grass. But not everyone can cut grass well, neatly, efficiently, at the right time, under the best conditions or produce a good result. 
That's where we come in."
8 hours ago
David Benson replied to Lewis Hetherington's discussion Charging over 12 months rather than per visit
"i am with vic on this you could end up missing out on 4 or 5 months payments any thing can happen even with commercial cilents
i had one domestic cilent move to the other end of the country witout telling me then rang me just before the start of the…"
9 hours ago
Vic 575 replied to Michael Vickers's discussion Ride on mowers
"A 38 and a 42 are very similar, why do you need two almost the same size?
I run a Stiga Pwx 740 with a 100cm [about 39 inches] deck. It is four wheel drive and mulches. I use it on many sites including a trading estate. It is superb in churchyards,…"
10 hours ago
Michael Vickers posted a discussion
Hi All  
Im after a 38 inch and a 42 inch ride on mower
it would be used on care homes and industrial estates
What do people recommend?
cheers
Michael
13 hours ago
Gary RK posted a discussion
If you’re into lawns, especially in a professional way such as turfcare/greenkeeping - a thought provoking article via Lantra :
https://www.lantra.co.uk/news/anyone-can-cut-grass
15 hours ago
Fusion Media posted a blog post
Dennis Mowers will be unveiling a new and exciting range of mowers when the show opens its doors at the NEC, Birmingham on October 30 and 31.Although product details are being kept tightly under wraps, the Dennis stand at SALTEX (E070) is set to be…
18 hours ago
Kate Cox replied to Henry Voice's discussion Phil
"So sorry to hear this news Henry. My thoughts are with you and your family. 
Thank you for agreeing to continue the work your Dad started. Setting up as a sole trader this network made the whole process a lot more manageable. Your Dad has helped a l…"
22 hours ago
Dan Frazer Gardening replied to Lewis Hetherington's discussion Charging over 12 months rather than per visit
"I wouldn't recommend April-April for this system though. Jan-Dec works well for me. I know this contract you're talking about is fixed and you don't have a say in the months paid, but offering it to domestic clients I'd suggest Jan-Dec"
yesterday
Brian Henley replied to Neal's discussion hedge work
"Tried string once.
It was the first thing that got cut........."
yesterday
Vic 575 replied to Lewis Hetherington's discussion Charging over 12 months rather than per visit
"Personally this is a system I really don’t like. Unfortunately I have one contract which works this way with a local Council, which is their way of working so I have to put up with it if I want the work.
 The mowing ends in late October or mid-Novem…"
yesterday
David Benson replied to Neal's discussion hedge work
"by eye but if its a redyction on sloping ground you can use a cane/stick with a bit of tape round it for a marker i did use a line once on a side reduction of 18 in but set the line about a foot above the hedge out of the way "
yesterday
Paul Doyle replied to John F's discussion skip surface protection
"I'd agree fully. "
yesterday
Paul Doyle replied to Neal's discussion hedge work
"Hi neal,
I worked for a company who used a laser level all the time for the tops. It might seem over the top (sorry),but some of the gardens demanded that level of skill for the design to work It means you also go alot faster, as theres no thinking…"
yesterday
More…