What goes into creating your dream outdoor space?

You have decided to invest in your garden and have a clear vison for your outdoor area. Now it is time to contact local landscaping companies near you and you may end up with three quotes that raise some questions. They have come back more expensive than you thought, and each quote is vastly different in price.

We are writing this blog today to show you what goes into creating your dream garden, where the costs are and why there could be significant difference between companies.

The first question is what actually goes into creating your dream garden?

Before your installers can start digging up the existing garden there is already a myriad of costs that go into simply being a reputable, compliant, and professional landscaping company:

  1. Knowledge
    To get the best driveway or patio, you need a landscaping specialist with experience and expert knowledge of installation. This knowledge takes years and significant investment in training to develop and will be fully utilised to help you achieve your dream outdoor space.
  2. Design Expertise
    When crafting your garden design, there are many things to consider including how to maximise the space, functionality and style. A skilled garden designer will be able to make your vision become a reality, but design expertise is not free.
  3. Consultation Time
    During consultations, you receive expert knowledge and advice for what to do with the space. It is also a great opportunity to pick a specialist’s brains and get your questions answered. This 1:1 service is invaluable but again it is a business cost that is often given for free or at a low cost and there is always more than one visit to realise a customers’ dream.
  4. Product Sourcing
    Sourcing the right products for your space takes time. We will contact suppliers on your behalf and request samples, as well as manage the process of getting them delivered to site at the right time to ensure a seamless process and avoid project hold ups
  5. H&S Compliance
    Health & Safety is crucial yet overlooked by many in the industry. Ensuring not only compliancy, but effective procedures and precautions to maintain staff and client’s safety is costly but well worth the investment.
  6. Full Insurances
    Insurances protect not only the landscaping business, but also you as the client. We ensure we hold full Public Liability and Employer Liability insurances which is a cost but one that is of upmost importance.
  7. Marketing (to get you to call us)
    For any business, maintaining an informative website, social media and marketing isn’t cheap but important to connect with potential and existing clients.

The costs begin to creep up when you look at the excavation and preparation required in creating an outdoor space that will stand the test of time:

  • Excavation – We always excavate to depths as stated in the British Standards of installation of paving these are: 150mm for patio installations and 250mm for driveway installations.
  • Waste disposal – We hold a waste carriers’ licence which means you can be safe in the knowledge that we won’t be fly tipping your waste. It will be removed and disposed of in the correct and lawful manner.
  • Sub-base – installation of the correct sub-base material to the correct depth (patio 100mm/driveway 170mm) for the project is the difference between an installation that fails or one that lasts a lifetime.
  • Weed Membranes – who wants weeds growing through the paving joints? Use a weed blanket (otherwise known as geotextile membrane). This is laid over the area under the sub-base. Also used to wrap aquacell crate systems in (to stop roots penetrating the aquacells) when installing a soakaway for drainage purposes.
  • Drainage – to comply wit surface water legislation when installing a driveway surface water should never be pushed out onto the highways. Adequate drainage in the form of soakaways connected to acco channel drains with underground pipe is one example of how to overcome this.

Then we have the cost of the items that make your garden or driveway look stunning:

  • Paving – high quality or low quality, that is the customer’s choice. We like to work with manufacturers that offer good quality products with guarantees in place. These may not always be the cheapest, but they will last.
  • Planters – we try to avoid sleepers to construct planters and prefer to use blockwork and render or blockwork clad with porcelain to help reduce maintenance. Again, more expensive but also more durable and looks the part.
  • Plants – these are specified by our designer to keep within the aesthetics of the garden as well as taking into consideration the conditions. Plants are not cheap and will make the difference between cold and harsh to homely and inviting.
  • Grass – real or artificial the choice is yours, as with everything the quality varies as well as installation method of (in particular) artificial grass so be aware when reviewing specifications and quotes.

The second question is why is the cost to create your garden so different between one contractor to another?

  • Specification of Works – does the quote set out the full specification of works? This includes (but is not limited to): excavation depths, installation method, compliance with British standards of installation, using primer, using the correct grout etc.
  • Products – high vs low quality, are all quotes comparative? In our experience we will quote for the product customer has specified but others have quoted for a significantly cheaper and alternative product, ensure your quotes are truly like for like.
  • How Professional Are They? – do they comply with Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations, drainage requirements, knowledge of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) how long have they been trading, how did they present themselves? You know deep down if you feel comfortable and at ease with the contractor or if something feels off – trust your instinct.
  • Is a Builder or Landscaper – you would not ask a landscaper to build your house, but we still have clients asking builders to lay their patios! Builders quotes tend to be significantly cheaper than a landscaper’s, but the finished result is often far different. Landscapers have an eye for detail, design and aesthetic knowledge and understand the full landscaping process not to mention the years of experience in this specific service.
  • Guarantees and Backing – who vets and backs your landscaping professional? Is it, the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) or the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL) or neither? Do they come with the Trustmark government led backing that gives our clients peace of mind? Do they offer solid workmanship and/or product guarantees (hopefully both)? Most importantly will they be there (and easily contactable) should something go wrong?

What goes into creating your dream garden? A lot of expertise, experience, engineering and hard work. Be mindful and aware of the differences in your quotes. I hope this goes some way to explain why the costs can be higher than you might have expected and gives you a better understanding of the landscaping process.

If you need any help with your landscaping or garden design and build then get in touch.