I have been asked by a garden designer to take over a landscaping project,
I have visited the site and discussed the project with the client and the designer, and have discovered that they do not have any drawn up plans or sketches.
Twenty metres of natural stone walling has to snake around the garden and act as a retaining wall to the sloping beds.
Areas have to be levelled and old bricks on site have to be used to create a pathway winding past the glasshouse and connecting the lawn to the hot tub section.
Old leaning stone walls have to be dismantled and rebuilt using additional larger stones.
York stone steps have to be built.
A large stone wall of unknown height has to be built across the garden. The garden slopes dramatically, and the wall must not step up, the stones must be laid horizontally and there must be no mortar visible in any of the walls.
The garden will be replanted with native plants, and these I believe have already been bought and are being kept by nurseries.
I have to prepare the site for planting and do the planting, but I do not think there is a planting plan.
The maintenance of the garden has to undertaken by me, with the designer as a sort of overseer.
Hedges have to be trimmed and a large box hedges have to be cut in the shape of clouds.
However I have discovered that near to this hedge there are a couple of trees that
have died from Honey fungus. Half of the hedge was trimmed a year ago by the previous gardener, about a year ago. And there is about three inches of new growth, but it is a pale and insipid colour and really does not look healthy at al, compared to the uncut side.
I advised the designer that it would be unwise to cut it at the moment as it was definitely struggling and that checks would have to be made, but I was told to cut it
right away and that it was due to all the rain we have had. - None of the other gardens that I maintain have this problem?
I also mentioned that it would be important to get the large weeds out of the beds
before they drop their seeds, but again I was told that weeding other beds would be a priority even though the planting will not go ahead until the work is finished.
I pointed out that the lower section of the garden could be ready fairly quickly to enable quite a large percentage of the planting to be done this autumn, but I was told that this was none of my business.
Perhaps one of the garden designers on the site would like to comment on this matter.
This project sounds like a minefield and will cost you and your reputation in the end. The 'designer' isn't a real one if they will not discuss issues with you in a calm and pleasant manner and haven't even prepared a plan for you to quote from and work to.
I wouldn't spend time pricing it, how can you? You would have to survey the site which should been done before they even called you.
Thanks everyone for all the good advice,, there were many points that I had not even considered.
I think that the owner of the property is employing the garden designer via a friend or colleagues advice( just something else she said, made me feel this was the case),
And she also said that although she had lost one landscaper, she felt that she had to stick with the garden designer to see the project through.
I think that she is genuine, but now finds herself stuck in a very awkward situation. And then there is the case of the plants in storage. ? perhaps they are not there.
I do not like to see anyone posssibly being duped by somone, and I keep wondering just what sort of checks can be made, to give her justifiable reasons for dismissing her.
Obviously, LJN forum springs to mind.
It just shows how important it is to thoroughly check out people before employing them on such a big project.
It will perhaps be much easier to do a quick check, now we have agreed on LJN to have a customer page, where all the landscapers/ designers/ gardeners can be found.
I am sure that none of them would have told me to mind my own business. !!!!
This is a shocking example of why one bad garden designer tars us all. No plans or drawings! - its like going into Tesco and seeing no food on the shelves. If you a supermarket you sell food. I think what David has said might ring true. Some clients hate paying for any of the planning stages. Personally, I would speak to the designer away from the client. Tell them what plans,drawings and spec you want and put this request to them in writing as well. Once received, then you price from there. If you don't get what you want from the designer then walk away. It might also be helpful to send a copy of this letter to the client so they know what any decent contractor needs and expects of such a project. You will regret doing anything further in this project by trying to be helpful. Leave it for for some other contractor to make a loss on. No qualified designer would ask a contractor to work in this way.
I have been called in so many times like this to take on a job that had started between 'friends' and had problems.
I know how tricky it can be as you become piggy in the middle. But stick to your guns and if you want to take it on make sure you don't lose out as I have done many a time by trying to please both parties. They are not your friends so remember it is a business you are running.
I am glad that Stuart has received some valuable advice and that this query seems to be answered however, I feel I must respond to Dr Jenny Woods comments re the SGD.
There is a misconception that registered members of the society are qualified designers. Whilst many are, you do not need to be qualified in any form of garden/landscape design or horticulture to become a registered member. Registered members have had their work verified by an adjudication committee and if deemed up to the required standard they are allowed to use the initials MSGD after their name. These letters are not a qualification in themselves, merely an indication that the designer is a registered member.
Most of these qualifications these people have are from dubious sounding schools of design that have sprung up in the last 20 years with the sole intention of milking money from extortionate course fees. On the evidence I have seen, looking at the websites of SGD members and seeing their stands at trade shows etc., they are no more talented/experienced than the majority of designers who are not members (in fact most in my opinion are well below par). Their members just happen to be able to afford/willing to part with the hundreds of pounds per year that the SGD charges it's members.
What the SGD does do well though, is promote itself via. the media, tradeshows and the yellow pages etc and that's the only reason I can think for joining it.
I do not have a design qualification, but my HND Horticulture was geared towards design and I have spent 20 years in the landscape industry working alongside landscape architects and the last 5 years as a self-employed garden designer/landscape contractor.
The whole of this sounds dodgy to me - I'd be pretty worried by it all. First of all you need the structural plans for the wall (especially the retaining walls) which haven't been provided. Plus you need to know the planting plan to understand the plants requirements that will be going into the ground i.e. extra drainage, acidity/alkalinity etc. The honey fungus issue sounds a bit worrying especially the garden designer not telling you whether it's been sorted out. If the hedge fails the customer or the garden designer will blame you for it dying. It all sounds a bit weired to me If one landscaper has gone already there would be a reason for it, the designer's being funny with you and as he/she is the overseer of the maintenance and already cutting corner I'd start to feel a bit concerned about dealing with them already. If you're not happy about the situation now how will you feel later on down the line?