I don’t watch many gardening programmes, I used to watch Ground Force from time to time often for all the wrong reasons, the free movement of Charlie Dimmocks assets were definitely an interesting phenomenon for me, even as a man who is not normally a bust fan. I also watch programmes covering the flower and garden shows, where I have made something that has been incorporated into a show garden.
The biggest perceived problem it seems to me of those who work professionally within the garden industry (if this network is a fair reflection of views held generally in the industry) is securing recognition and consequently an adequate reward for their knowledge, expertise and experience.
If I asked someone to design and build a garden for me I would have no idea how much it is likely to cost, very little idea how to get some idea of how to start to calculate a budget, the only guide I have is that a decent garden can add 5-10% to a houses’ value.
Many modern houses have as you know tiny gardens but that doesn’t stop people having aspirations for something unique and interesting. They want good use of the space they have, some want raised beds and an easy manageable environment, some who have young children want a safe stimulating garden for their children to play in with some unobtrusive space to dry the washing.
Several years ago I would call at Van Hages garden centre at Ware, they had on their site, show gardens complete with designs and itemised lists of materials. I thought this was an excellent idea, I am sure it was both inspirational for the customer and pretty good for sales. Similarly at Ayletts Nursery near Saint Albans within the garden centre was a reconstruction of a show garden for the disabled.
My standard garden product range is priced, people have a starting point if they want something different, for example if they want a non standard size garden arch
, they know to a degree if my prices are at a level they can afford and can take a view if they are good value for money.
The gardening programmes particularly those with a design element will feed peoples’ aspirations for a better looking garden but will not help them much with an idea of design or overall costs, much less a realistic budget.
If I were a garden designer I would do some research on newly built housing schemes to find out garden sizes. Armed with that I would prepare a few different designs to suit the sizes of garden on the scheme. A brochure with a picture of each design could be prepared, additionally a full plan with spec lists of materials could be offered for sale together with an indication of cost to build each design and some alternatives. For example a path could be costed using slabs, block paved or gravel, raised beds could be constructed using sleepers, bricks or bradstone. There are some things that are difficult to cost when you put a spade in the ground of a garden for the first time you don’t know if it is just soil in the garden or bricks and concrete underneath, if you are offering a design and build package, qualify this in your pricing.
Indication of costs for designing a garden from scratch of a similar size could be worth considering, you need not only to paint the picture but also give an upfront price of how much the picture is going to cost.