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Garden Makeover Costs

The cost of making over your garden very much depends on whether you are asking a garden design company to produce a plan for you and carry out the makeover or whether you are going to do all the hard work yourself and just bear the costs of the initial design fee. The other key factor is the size, half an acre is going to cost an awful lot more than a bijou courtyard. A clever garden makeover where you do the work yourself and swap plants with friends can cost as little as £200 or less and at the other end of the spectrum, prepare to splash out several thousand for a large space with a dedicated garden designer and full landscaping and replanting.

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What are the individual factors that affect the cost of a garden makeover?

  • The size of the garden
  • Whether or not you employ a landscape designer
  • How much of the work you do yourself
  • Which features you choose to include – some are more expensive than others

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A look at costs in more detail

Every garden is as individual and bespoke as its owner so most figures in the garden makeover range are averages but they can still provide some guidance as to where the bulk of the costs will fall. Here is a selection of the most popular garden makeover features with some pricing indications:-

  • Flower beds – simple raised beds with railway sleepers will average around £200 – shrubs are better value than bedding plants which although very pretty in season do not last very long
  • Lawns – lawns are around £15 per square metre and are one of the easier features to price – if you lay the turf yourself then the cost will drop to under £5 per square metre. Sometimes re-turfing can ultimately be cheaper than trying to resurrect an old lawn which has not had the best of care; it can be very labour intensive and there is the added cost of lawn treatments. As a filler for a large area, grass is still very popular and is much cheaper to install than hard surfaces like decking or a patio, however, it does require ongoing care to stay looking at its best whereas once a patio is laid, usually the time involved and the cost of care is minimal. As an alternative, some people opt for maintenance-free artificial turf which can better withstand the wear and tear of children and pets, this averages about £60 per square metre
  • Planting small trees – this is a cost-effective way to add interest to a garden with relatively little ongoing maintenance. Consider very popular ornamental cherry trees, crab apple or Snowy Mespilus all of which will cost less than £50 each
  • Hard features – like patios or decking never lose their appeal as they represent somewhere to sit to relax, eat and socialise. Hard standing areas are generally costed by size and their per metre figure will include the cost of the material and installation charges; of course, if you do it yourself then it will be much cheaper. A good average to use is £80 per square metre and this includes the preparation works of digging out, levelling, adding a membrane and hardcore before laying the surface material of choice. Decking is the popular alternative to traditional stone slabs and can be more expensive depending on the choice of wood, anything up to about £200 per square metre
  • Water features – water features, fountains and ponds can range from the smallest of items for just a few pounds through to grand designs for several thousand depending on your budget. For a pond, you would be looking at a figure of between £500-£1,000 and that does not include water plants, fountains or water features and fish
  • Paths and walkways – again wholly dependent on the length of the path and the material used but a pathway will usually cost £500 as an average

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How to save money on garden makeover costs

There are lots of ways to create a stunning design and not break the bank with just a little guidance and imagination, here are some simple suggestions:-

  • Do most of the work yourself from planning through to execution. There is tons of online advice and even software packages to help you create the garden of your dreams plus endless images for inspiration
  • Swap plants with friends rather than buying
  • Cover large areas with lawn rather than a patio or decking
  • Avoid hard borders with bedding plants which will only last for a limited time, instead use planters for a riot of colour which you can move around. Flowers are one of the cheapest and quickest options for making a garden look great and work well in any space
  • Consider vertical planting which is a style which creates impact and interest whether you use climbing plants, hedges or pots fixed to walls. These also have the added benefit of creating a screen for privacy. The cheapest option is either plants in pots or fast-growing climbers like clematis or wisteria, buy the most mature plants you can afford for the quickest results. Another option is to create living walls with hanging planters, you can even make these yourself, there are loads of easy DIY ideas online
  • Invest in one standout specimen, this can be much more cost-effective than fiddling around with loads of different plants. Use a tree to create a ceiling for the garden rather like a pergola, this is a great effect which can be very expensive to achieve with lots of smaller plants
  • Invest in the largest plants you can afford to create the maximum and quickest impact, this is always a more budget-friendly option than choosing numerous cheaper plants the aggregate cost of which will soon add up
  • A cheap and cheerful idea is to group plant pots on an old table or step ladder, this creates much more visual impact than leaving them on the ground
  • Consider a herb garden, this will provide year-round interest and some tasty additions for the kitchen
  • Looking at when each plant or shrub flowers and what colours they offer throughout the season is a great way to view your garden holistically so that it is always nice to look at and will save you money in the long run. A mixture of spring, summer and autumn flowering perennials will return year in year out without the need to buy more plants
  • If space is tight then use container plants which can always go with you if you move house
  • Create your own hard garden by making a rustic table out of old pallets or potato boxes, free or very cheap from a local farm and a great way to display potted blooms
  • Pick up old garden furniture from house clearance or auctions and renovate and refurbish, paint the garden shed to match the furniture, apart from your time and the cost of the paint this is a very cheap option that can look highly stylish. Choose the colour scheme carefully and avoid garish colours picking natural shades if at all possible as these will better showcase your plants and flowers
  • If you have an old shed which is tired and rather uninspiring then vamp it up into a lovely summerhouse
  • Choose a water feature that runs from solar power rather than electricity, this means cheaper running costs but also cheaper installation as you will not require an electrician to connect it to the mains

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the best place to find inspiration for a homemade garden makeover?

There are countless ideas, images and suggestions online but some other techniques you can try are visiting formal gardens or joining a local gardening club. Many gardeners think that large municipal gardens or gardens attached to stately homes are not relevant for their small scheme at home but you can pick up tips and tricks and look at the principles of good gardening design in the flesh rather than online. There is also a National Open Gardens Scheme where people local to where you live open up their private gardens to raise money for charity – this is also a great way to meet local gardeners who may be able to share their expertise with you. A gardening club is another forum and often a great way to access free or very cheap cuttings from other gardeners.

How can I find a good garden designer for a makeover?

A recommendation is always the best route but it is important to find the right company for you whether you have top dollar to spend or just a small courtyard garden which larger companies may not be interested in. Always ask to view their portfolio and then you can see whether the style of designing is quite samey or whether they can really work for each individual garden and client. Check out reviews on trusted websites to see if anyone has reported any negative feedback or complaints.

Do I have to spend a fortune to create a stylish garden makeover?

You can spend a fortune or you can keep cost of a gardener down by doing the garden in stages or simply by doing the work yourself. Some people mix and match spending money on hard landscaping costs getting designers to produce patios, paths and water features and then doing the rest of the work themselves.

What does APL stand for?

APL stands for the Association of Professional Landscapers and there is a tool on their website which will help you find landscaping companies in your area; these have been inspected and are fully insured.

Are there any hidden costs with garden makeovers?

There can be and typically the things people don’t budget for will include the hire of plant and machinery to do hard landscaping works and the disposal cost of waste materials. Read more about hedge cutting prices. Even for what may seem like straightforward jobs, you should make sure you are clear - even something like the cost of tree stump removal, for example, could be an expense you did not plan for.

Is my garden too small for a makeover?

Most garden designers will say that no garden is too small to makeover and in fact, good garden design can be even more imperative for a small space than a larger one.

What can you expect from a garden designer?

One of the biggest issues that surround professional garden makeovers is exactly what the client is expecting. Find out what the consultation will deliver, some garden companies will offer a ‘design only’ service or you can opt for design and installation – either scenario should involve a site survey. With any garden designer, you should be really clear about exactly what is included in their service as this is often where misunderstandings occur. Some landscaping and garden design companies will offer set packages where it sets out clearly what they will do for each tier of price.

Can I redesign part of my garden?

Some people may only want one or two specific features changed or altered or just one area of their garden developed. If you are on a budget then doing the work incrementally in this way according to the season whilst working to an overall plan is a very good way of spreading the cost.

When is the best time of year to makeover a garden?

Gardens can be redesigned at any time of year although obviously, it is easier to get more work done during the long days of summer. Bad weather i.e. rain and mud can seriously hamper gardening work particularly hard landscaping and really slow things down. Bear in mind that most planting is done in the spring and autumn so you could schedule building and patio work for the summer and then follow this on with some autumn planting which gives the new plants time to settle before growth the following spring. The other benefit of avoiding summer planting is the endless amount of watering in which new plants need particularly in drought or heatwave conditions – this also applies to a new lawn.

For more information on garden landscaping and design, head to the websites of The Association of Professional Landscapers and the Society of Garden Designers.

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