Do I need a garden design?

Not always, but a design will tie all the elements of the garden project together and will form the base of a contract. It is especially useful when larger projects are proposed.

How can I get an idea of cost and a budget without wasting peoples' time?

Generally, the cost of fully landscaping an average garden will be similar to the cost of a new kitchen or a new car. Always remember to add the VAT.

I don't know what I want, but I know there is a need for improvement!

Make a list of elements you would like in the garden, e.g. a patio, path, lawn, etc, take into account the age group of persons using the garden, and how they will use the garden; play areas for kids or raised beds for less mobile people, low maintenance gardens for busy people, also take into account the sunny and shady parts of the garden at different times of day when the garden is being used.

Is this the right time of year, or shall I wait til Spring?

If you want your garden project completed in the spring book your contractor in the autumn. Secondly, most plants and material are available all the year round. The only other governing factors are extreme weather conditions like freezing, or excessively hot sunny days.

I only have a small garden and it is overlooked; what shall I do and is it worth it?

Small gardens can be just as much fun as larger ones. With careful planning your garden will be the envy of the neighbourhood.

My garden soil is thick heavy clay and the drainage is poor, will anything grow?

Yes! Because clay is thick and sticky it naturally holds nutrients for the plants. Regular additions of bulky organic compost will allow the plants to access those nutrients and improve the drainage.

Is turf better than grass seed for a lawn?

Grass seed is cheaper than turf, but the drawbacks are: germination is limited by the seasons, the seed bed is prone to being dug up by cats, other animals and birds. A turfed lawn is complete in a day or two and ready to use after three or four weeks.

Why use a contractor who is a member of a trade association, like the British Association of Landscape Industries, or the Institute of Horticulture?

Both organizations will only allow membership after the applicant has demonstrated an in-depth and qualified understanding of the industry, obtained over several years, a stringent vetting process has been carried out, references are checked, and the applicant has the correct level of third party liability insurance to cover the work done. This greatly reduces the risk of bad workmanship and contractual problems. We have all seen builders from hell on the TV!