Do I need a Garden Designer?

March 2022
Aaron Wilkinson

Summer will be on us before we know it, and many homeowners are looking to renovate their garden in time to enjoy the sunny (*let’s see shall we😊) weather.  There are a number of routes you can go down to achieve your new garden, but probably the most common question at this stage is “Do I need to hire a garden designer?”.  The short answer to this is that sometimes you need a garden designer, and sometimes you don’t; but that doesn’t help you at all – so let’s dig a bit deeper!  (note. Excuse the pun.  Due to the nature of the industry we work in, this particular one rears its head in a number of our articles, apologies.)


In this article, we will look at various key things to consider when thinking about whether you need to hire a garden designer, with the aim that by the end of the article you’ll be much clearer and more confident in progressing your garden project.

What is a garden designer and how much does garden design cost?

In simple terms, according to Wikipedia, “A garden designer is someone who designs the plan and features of gardens, either as an amateur or professional.”  For the purpose of this article, by ‘garden designer’ we are obviously talking about the professional.

It is quite difficult to say what garden design costs, as there are so many variables and every garden design is different.  Furthermore, a lot of professional garden designers would not approve of me writing a price guide on this subject, but never mind!  Below are guides rates you can expect from a garden designer

  • Garden design rates
    • Small garden (50 – 100sqm)             £1000 - £1500
    • Medium garden (200 – 250sqm) £1500 - £2500
    • Large garden (400 – 500sqm) £2000 - £3000
  • Garden design daily rates £350 - 750/day
  • Garden design hourly rates £50 - £100/hour

Now that you have a guide price for what garden design is likely to cost, you can consider how this aligns with your budget.  If you are looking to completely renovate your garden for £5000 - £10,000 including materials and labour, then you may not be in a position to use up a chunk of that budget on garden design.  Furthermore, a garden designer doing his job properly is unlikely to come up with a satisfactory design which could be implanted within that budget.  As a guide, the garden design element of a garden renovation should cost between 10 - 20% of the total project cost, meaning that for example if you spend £1500 on a 250sqm garden design, you can expect to spend at least £15K - £30K or more on the complete garden project.


What’s the scope of the project?

What sort of garden do you currently have?  What is the overall size in sqm, and what are you looking to achieve with it?  Do you intend to completely renovate the look and feel of your entire garden, or are you just looking to give it a freshen up?

The garden design cost of a complete project will depend on the size of the area, the type of materials you choose and whether you are considering additional more expensive elements such as garden offices, extensive decking & paving areas and outdoor kitchens.

Thinking about the scope of your garden project in detail and what you are hoping to achieve will help to understand the likely cost of a garden designer.


Have you got lots of your own ideas for your garden?

This is one of the most important points.  If you are do not have a vision for what you garden could look like and you are really struggling for ideas, then in this instance a garden designer is likely to be of real value.

If you are full of ideas for your garden, or you’ve seen another garden in a magazine that you love, and you are able to clearly visualise how your garden will look and the materials and products you’d like to use, then you may just need a good quality landscaper to carry out the work.


Who is going to carry out the work?

Ahead of embarking on the garden design journey, have a think about who will be carrying out the work.  If you are doing a DIY garden renovation, then chances are you may have come up you’re your own design.  However, if a landscaper is going to be carrying out the work, you need to thinking about the different options open to you.  Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of garden professionals to consider here:

  • Garden Designer – Carry out the design work and often create wonderfully creative designs, normally providing construction drawings and material specifications. Will often then handle the tender process and put the project out for pricing by several landscapers
  • Garden Design & Build Contractor – Looks after the garden design, and also carries out the installation work (either directly or employing sub-contractors). This can mean they are more realistic about what is achievable at design stage as they will be looking after delivery of the project, which can also translate into overall cost savings
  • Landscaper – There are landscapers who do not get involved in the design, but only ever work to a designer’s specification. They can work out more cost effective for the install, but then you will likely need to hire and engage with a Garden Designer separately.


In summary

It might be a good idea to hire a garden designer if:

  • You have a large budget, and cost is not the No. 1 consideration
  • You have a large garden, and you are looking for complex renovation of the entire garden
  • You are struggling for inspiration and ideas of your own. You want an amazing garden but you can’t picture it!
  • You are considering a quality design & build landscaper, who will also handle the install

You may not need to hire garden designer if:

  • You are looking to renovate your garden on a restricted or modest budget
  • You are not intending to completely renovate your garden, you just want to freshen it up
  • You have your own ideas, and a clear picture or vision of what you want your garden to look like
  • You are considering a quality design & build landscaper, who will also handle the design element