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David Andersen

Is it better to get a professional design for a garden, or just to follow your nose and see what happens as you're working?

Of course it’s not always necessary to have everything really well thought through - some projects do just evolve. But personally, I always say that creativity is relatively cheap compared to the idea that ‘throwing money at a project is the best way forward’. In my opinion, a well designed garden need not rely on expensive paving, etc. you can make a better garden using well thought through planting ideas which are relatively inexpensive.

I think that taking the time (and even swallowing the expense) of getting a proper design done before starting work will give time for new ideas to breathe, and can help to solve the problems of the site and maximise the potential of the available space. Also, no more plants that keel over and die because they have been planted in the wrong place!

I'd like to know what everyone else's experience has been, though - was your designed garden worthwhile or not? Did you skip the designing phase of your garden and get great results, or regret it? Look forward to your responses!


If I could afford it, yes good idea, I would love someone to come in, design, dig, plant so all I need to do is add and tidy. Got anyone in mind for the job. Probably could get it dome for about 30 grand.


I went for a bit of a mix - i created the design, and paid someone to come in a do all the hard work of removing turf, putting in extra drainage, putting down paving and building raised beds.

I alreay had a lot of plants that i had collected over time or had been given to me by friends/family!

This worked for me as i only had a limited budget - at the end the landscaper said my design had worked out well and he would be using some of my ideas in another garden!!

Good luck and enjoy what ever route you decide to take!

Bunny ...

Well done Rhonsal ...hope you are charging him commision

I like the idea that my garden is just that...mine.
Just try to be patient. Sketch bit of a plan and constantly adjust and tinker with it. Find out your soil type. Talk to neighbours and see what they grow and if you like something they have then plant that too.
Fill with cheapo plants in between plants you really want. Just learn about plants and observe how garden copes during the seasons
However, nothing wrong in someone designing or plantIng your garden. can be hard work so.....??



Hello David Andersen asking a question about garden design?-is this a genuine question or a tout for business?

I see from your profile you are designer

Just thought you might like to make that clear?


Each to their own I suppose. I like to do it all myself then I am proud of my successes, and my failures I just see as opportunities to start again. I think that one of the keys is that if you are not happy then move things or even, [ although sometimes I find this hard ] throw things out. One of the great joys of growing your own is that you allways have stuff to put into the places where things have not quite worked out. Good gardens evolve over time and the pleasure you get on those days when everthing looks wonderful is all the greater knowing that you did it. i do supplement my own ideas with stuff from books, TV and garden visits but allways with a twist.


I wouldn't let someone else loose on my patch


I think it depends on what your trying to acheive. Not everyone can create what they visually see in their own minds, so need to pay someone else to create it.

And also, the difficulty level is an important factor. Some of your designs on the site for example, could not be acheived without an experts input. Beautiful as there are.

It's personal choice. If you've got the money, why not pay a professional. I know I would .


Some nice designs to be fair,  from David.

I think there are two types of people when it comes to gardens, Decorators and Gardeners.

Decorators are looking for a quick fix, they want the garden to look nice so they can entertain and enjoy their garden but not really spend too much time working on it. The real Gardeners take a pride in making their garden and are willing to work on it to develop something quite individual to them. I doubt there are many Decorators on this site      

I'm sure there are times when you need a professionals help  we can't all dig ponds and lay patios but for me how my garden looks will be from what I want (and can afford) and not how a designer decided it should be. Inspiration can come from anywhere but your garden should be yours.

Lyn wrote (see)

If I could afford it, yes good idea, I would love someone to come in, design, dig, plant so all I need to do is add and tidy. Got anyone in mind for the job. Probably could get it dome for about 30 grand.

I thought he might have come back and offered me a quote.


I think that you have some" NECK" most if not all the people on this Forum are amateurs have full

time day jobsor are retired



A compromise I thnk ..using a landscape gardener for the heavy stuff, own design and work at it over the seasons. 

Over ten years my garden has eveolved as it has grown with me and family needs...from more veg and lawn with small pond to more pond/water feature, terracing for sitting out, extended lawn and now as much vertical planting as the three fences will hold, includung raspberries which 'creep' about!

Love it...researching plants, digging in the wet, visiting open gardens, lifting flagstones ...GW....talking to you all...   sigh... what is this  life if  carried away there

abreak in the clouds...time for fresh air.


geoff (if I may) also checked David's profile - requesting market research and interesting to have the responses.


clogger...understand you concern...Please dont turn this thread into a rant.......we all learn from the responses...


I wanted a garden with plants and that eveolved to suit my available time, budget and changing family needs so no designer fo me.

I do love the look of some designed gardens but they mostly have too much hard landscaping and too few plants and are more oudoor rooms than places for plants and wildlife to thrive.   I love seeing the show gardens at Chelsea but I'm interested in the plants used rather than the hard stuff so am often disappointed by the big ones - except Chris Beardshaw who always has mostly plants, Cleve West who does sublime plants and Diarmuid Gavin does wonderful planting schemes too if you can see past the whacky, distraction of his design.


Woodgreen wonderboy

My garden has evolved over the years and although I can see things I now wish were different I am glad it is the result of my wife's and myideas and efforts, A designed garden can look a little sterile and too perfect for me. I did get some help remaking my vegetable garden but it was to my plan. The contractor supplied the hard work and did an excellent job, and I would use him again or recommend him. I think gardening is a blend of creativity and physical work. Both of these satisfy a need, but are essentially different. Where else would many of us give vent to our creative needs. I can't paint or write a book, but I can think through a garden idea and achieve a satisfactory end result, which pleases me and others. The hard work keeps me fitter and healthier than I might otherwise be. Who and what would I be without gardening???


I think its interesting that you say that a well designed garden need not rely on expensive paving yet in your garden design images on your website they seem to be mostly expensive paving and less about the plants.

I also think that trying to get a bit of free advertising isnt always a bad thing but just be upfront and honest about what your doing. 


Leaving the possible touting for business aside, I don't think I'd be interested in having a garden designed for me. I've been in this house and garden for nearly 20 years now, and during that time it has changed so much. I always find it odd when people ask if the garden's "finished yet" - I try and explain that it's not like decoating a room.
If I had money to spare I'd like to employ someone, but mainly to do the catch- up tasks that I never seem to catch up with!
Eddie J

Why the flaming? It seems a fair and reasonable question to me, irrelevant of the OP career choice. Also from looking at his website, I can't imagine that he would need to come on here and tout for work.


Before changing career some 20 odd years ago, I worked professionally as a contractor for several different well known and not so well known landscape designers, and sadly one theme was common amongst all of them, repetition of design. The one designer that has always inspired me though, is Diamuid Gavin. He is not afraid to think outside of the box, and I love his use of concrete, which is in itself a very underrated and under used product in landscape design.


Many people have absolutely no vision of what they want in respect of garden design and do need guidance, which is where the services of a designer should be engaged, but sadly more often than not, the designer does not listen to the clients needs. The majority of garden designers are also absolutely clueless about scale. Anything can be put down on paper, but taking it from the paper stage and into 3D reality is more often than not just a joke.

One other aspect about designers is that many are good at certain elements, but fall short on other elements. One may be good at hard landscaping schemes but will not be good at soft landscaping schemes, lighting etc. It is quite rare to find a designer that is good at all aspects. The sad thing about this is that the designer is always too blinkered to see/accept it.


Personally I wouldn't dream of paying someone to design a garden for me, but that is simply because I can do my own without issue, and find both design and construction easy.




We drew our garden design over 20 years ago and I have developed it since and made more beds. We had professionals to pave the terrace as the house is on a slope lengthways and the garden in on 3 levels. So I drew the design, the stone masons did the heavy stuff and a garden firm did the lawn, as it had been a farmyard and needed 2 lorryloads of earth added. We did all the digging of beds and planting. The garden is quite big, over an acre in all.

I'm afraid I'm not that keen on the contemporary, rather hard and stark style of the designer who started this thread.