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Taking a holistic view of garden design and build

 In Garden Design, Landscaping, Uncategorised

.The most beautiful gardens in the world have been created by taking a holistic view of garden design and build. What does that mean?

The garden design and build process

gorgeous garden with curved patios, lawns and flower beds

Creating a practical yet beautiful outdoor space requires an imaginative garden design and lots of landscaping skills

Just like building a home, transforming a plot of land into a whole new, beautiful garden involves several disciplines.  

First there is the vision. The lightbulb moment when you think – wow – that shed/space/corner is wasted when it could be used for living/cooking/eating/playing. 

Sometimes there is no vision per se.  Many of my garden transformation projects begin with the client wondering what they could do with their garden. They’ve paid good money for the land around their home and it feels like a wasted resource. A kind of “could do better’ feeling.

Next comes the analysis and the research.  You start looking closer at your plot and deciding what you do and don’t like about it.  Then you start peeping over fences and watching TV programs to see what other people have done with their plots.  And you begin to dream, an idea starts to form, but it’s foggy – you can’t decide where to place features or what kind of stone to use.

Then you decide to talk to someone who knows about these things and you contact a landscaper or a garden designer. Someone who you think can unleash your garden’s potential.

Who’s involved in the garden design and build process?

For many homeowners, the garden design and build process starts with a garden designer who can help you to visualise your new garden.  The reins for the project, are then passed to a landscaper.  It’s a very similar process to building a house or an extension.  You need an architect to draw the plans and a builder to bring them to life.

A good designer will think about the aesthetics of the finished garden. He or she will should also bear in mind the build cost so that your garden can be built within your budget.

Sometimes, the landscaper will start work and then discover hidden surprises in the garden that mean design tweaks are needed. Things like dodgy drainage pipes, buried structures or trees that are actually too sick to be retained.  These lead to unexpected costs and there may be a need for design tweaks to mitigate the expense.

In some circumstances, the communication around those tweaks can even delay the garden build.

When you hire Silver Birch Gardens to transform your outdoor spaces, you get a garden designer and a landscaper all rolled into one.  Which means that we can take a holistic view of garden design and build.

garden design and build project in progress

A garden design and build project in progress

What is holistic garden design and build?

A garden designer will look at a plot through an artist’s eyes.  A landscaper will look at a plot through the eyes of a craftsman.  A garden design and build specialist, like Dan Richards from Silver Birch Gardens, can see a project from both perspectives.

Dan starts the design and build process by finding out how you want to use your garden, and how you would like it styled.  

  • Do you like contemporary gardens with clean, straight lines? 
  • Are you a fan of paving or would you prefer to have a big lawn?  
  • What about maintenance? Do you love gardening or do you crave a low maintenance space? 
  • Is there a theme you’d like to explore? Mediterranean? Nautical? A favourite colour? Wildlife friendly? Sustainable? Edible?

Dan’s next step is to look at the garden from a landscaping perspective and decide what can be done within your budget.  Things like slopes, access for machinery, drainage issues, storage for materials can all make a big difference to the build cost.  In fact, contouring the land and building the foundations for patios, paths and structure can account for 60-80% of the overall cost – and these are the bits that you won’t see when the garden is finished!

Finally, Dan takes a holistic approach and marries all of that information together to create a design.  Then, once the design has been approved with the client, Dan and his team start on the build.  It’s a continuous process and the benefits of that are massive.

Why opt for a more holistic garden design and build?

If you were hiring a garden designer and a landscaper separately, you’d need to get to know two, very different people. And they’d need to get to know you in order to really understand your likes and dislikes and what you want to achieve with the project. 

Building a professional relationship takes time but, in a creative art like landscaping, it’s crucial to the success of a project.  I don’t know quite how to express it in words, but if client and contractor ‘gel’ the finished garden seems to gain a little bit of magic. I suppose it’s a bit like any collaboration – the better the relationship, the better the results.

Having your garden designer actually build your garden means that he or she understands the design on a much deeper level.  And if there are any blips during the build that need a design tweak to overcome them, the person with the answers is right there on site.

Dan Richards

It makes sense to have a single project manager who can both design the garden and oversee its construction. This is Dan Richards, our multi-talented MD

Perfect economic sense

That holistic approach to garden design and build takes a garden makeover to a whole different level. And it makes economic sense too.  

There is always going to be a cross over in skills sets when your are having a big garden makeover.  Some garden designers will charge you for time spent explaining features to your landscaper. Your landscaper will probably also charge you for this time.  When your garden designer and your landscaper are the same person – there’s no need for explanations and no need for extra charges either.  The process is more streamlined and therefore less expensive.

The legal bit

When you embark on any construction project – and that includes a garden makeover – you are legally obliged to comply with CDM regulations.  That’s Construction Design and Management.  They’re mainly about health and safety. Everybody involved in the project has their part to play. But it’s important that it’s made clear from the outset who has legal responsibility for site safety.

Normally, the client appoints somebody – in writing – to ensure that CDM regulations are met.  At the beginning of the project, before you break ground, this is normally the designer.  Once work begins in your garden, it’s customary to appoint the principal contractor or the project manager as the person with responsibility. It sounds like a bit of a faff, but it is crucial and will protect you, your neighbours and anyone who sets foot on your property during the course of your project.

Hiring someone who offers a holistic garden design and build service, really does cut down on the paperwork – and the worry.

Need to know more?

Feel free to ask us questions about any aspect of holistic garden and build.

You can get in touch us via phone or email.  Click here for contact details.

Learn more about CDM regulations 

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