Finding a garden or landscape specialist

Choosing the right garden design or garden design professional is an important decision and can be trickier than you might think. This short article looks at some of the things to think about.


Garden design, garden services and landscape design are not simple. The sheer variety of garden design services on offer can make it difficult to decide what to do.


Local directories have a wide variety of gardeners, garden designers, landscapers, and tree surgeons. Making the wrong choice can prove to be a very expensive mistake.

"...Making the wrong choice can prove to be a very expensive mistake."

Imagine meeting a man in the pub and saying:

"Do you do teeth?" If he said "Yeah, sure."

Would that be enough to get the job?


The same thing goes for choosing a garden design professional. To get a beautiful garden, find someone who knows what they are doing.


Good design is based on knowledge and experience.

They will be qualified, insured and knowledgeable.

"...They will be qualified, insured and professional."

When someone says they are a garden professional, garden designer or landscape gardener - find out what they mean - ask them what kind of work they actually do.

Garden design software and garden services

  • A garden design company may develop ideas but not be a plant experts.

  • A landscaper might remodel your garden but rely on others for the plan.

  • A pond expert might lack general plant knowledge.

  • Someone offering garden services might actually be a lawn specialist.

  • Garden design services may mean plant expert but not hard landscaping.

  • Of course, you might find someone who can do everything....


CAD design


Photo Design


Gardening services


Garden Plant Information


Garden journal




As well as coming up with the ideas for your new garden design, a garden professional may undertake the development, or work with a landscaper.


Alternatively, a landscaper may do patios, paving, brick laying, carpentry, be a plant specialist, aquatics expert, ground-worker and garden designer.


A true gardener should be a plant expert with knowledge about soil and horticulture, but don't be surprised if they are reluctant to build you a garden shed.

"...but don't be surprised if they are reluctant to build you a garden shed."

Gardening and landscaping specialists

It's important to understand that people specialise. Work out what you might want and then investigate options.


Imagine this:


You have decided to have a new garden design and a new patio.

They have given you a plan of the garden design and you decide you also want a wildlife pond.


Company 1 - "Sure, we can do that, where do you want me to dig the hole?"


Company 2 - "We don't do ponds, when a customer wants a pond I work with XYZ Pond Diggers. Would you like me to call them?"


Which one do you choose?

Choosing the right design professional takes time and patience.


How to choose a garden specialist

It can be confusing, the main thing to remember is to take it slowly. Don't be rushed into signing a contract or agreeing for garden services or garden design work to be done without understanding what you are getting.


Choose the right person for the job

Different people specialise in different things, you might find one garden designer who is happy not only to tell you where to put your wildlife pond (so to speak), but build it too. Another might give you the design, then recommend someone to do the construction.


You might need more than a garden design plan - maybe a gardener who is a plant expert and understands how to use soft landscaping to change the design of your garden and create the design effect you want.


They may also create a garden design plan for you to see what they are suggesting. If you choose someone who does not understand plants and planting, it might look pretty in the design, but after you've bought all those exotic and expensive plants, will they survive in your garden and give you the garden you want, or will they collapse after a season, or worse still, take over your garden like an alien invasion from a bad science fiction film?

"...or worse still, take over your garden like an alien invasion from a bad science fiction film?

If your landscapers put in a great patio and you choose them to create a pond - make sure they understand pond placement and construction - if you don't check, and they have never designed and constructed a pond before - don't be surprised if you come home to find a hole filled with something horrible because no-one checked the path of the mains water and sewage services!


What to do next

So, you want a new garden design or make-over. Think about any ideas you have and what you want to achieve. Then you can think about who might be best to do the work.


If you want to have a garden make-over or design, look through local directories, arrange appointments for gardeners, garden designers and landscapers to visit. These initial visits will usually be free.

For more in-depth design meetings, think about paying for a garden design survey, it could save you time and money in the long run.

"...These initial visits will usually be free."

Remember, even for something like lawn cutting, you get what you pay for - proper lawn maintenance is a skilled job. In the next article on this subject, we'll look at deciding what you want to do in your garden, choosing companies, getting quotes and the kinds of questions you'll want them to answer.


Karl Gunter February 2005


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