The real costs of a designed garden


We seem to have a national shyness when it comes to talking about money... and it doesn’t help anyone, especially when we are working out a budget for a garden. So let’s talk about it... well let’s try...

But how long is a piece of string?

We seem to have a national shyness when it comes to talking about money… and it doesn’t help anyone, especially when we are working out a budget for a garden. So let’s talk about it… well let’s try…

I always try to split the cost of a garden into two sections, there is the cost of designing a garden and then the cost of building that design. 

Taking the cost of the build first, people are always surprised with how much gardens cost to build, it’s likely the fault of the TV programmes that told us we could completely rebuild our gardens for less that £2000. Well we can’t, Titchmarsh et al were really showing us what you could do if you have free labour, sponsored materials and a TV production company making sure it got completed on time. Inspirational, yes, realistic no.

More recent programmes like BBC2’s ‘Your Garden Made Perfect’ are helping to redress the balance, but still don’t tell us how much the designs cost (more on this later).

When you are thinking about the budget you might assign to your garden you need to think of it as the trickiest room of your home; it has to function for you as a useable space, it has to be aesthetically pleasing and it must be built to last and cope with all types of weather. 

If done properly and fulfilling the above criteria it will add value to your house. That’s is what a designer is aiming for.

There are various factors that will immediately affect costs, complex levels, hard to access space ( i.e. through the house) and size of the space. 

The brief (what you want in the garden) plays a big factor, you want a pool? That’s going to be expensive… The choice of materials and maturity of plants are other factors that all need to be considered.   

There are a couple of ways to roughly work out what budget you might assign to your garden project: 

Working out the square meterage of your garden can give you an indicative cost. Most designers work on an average of £150-£350 per sq. metre for a built garden.

Quick note here, if you have a roof garden costs usually start around £300 per sq. metre and can quickly reach upwards of £500 per sq. metre due to the unique challenges of access and structural considerations around roof loading etc.

Another way to estimate a budget is that a well designed and built garden should to cost approximately 10% of the value of your home.

Scary, but isn’t it better to go into these things eyes wide open rather than be disappointed when your dream is possible.

Now let’s discuss the cost of design, again there are many influencing factors, timescales, scope of work, the brief and the complexity of the site itself. Size does play a factor but it’s not always true that a larger garden is more expensive to design. 

What I do is break the design process into phases (see How We Work) and quote you for each phase as we finish the last, it’s not usually possible to quote for the entire design process up front as each phase helps define the scope of work for the next.  

Within this phased approach fees are roughly split between – Site Analysis and Outline Design (30-50%) and Detailed Design, Tendering and Project Oversight (50-70%).

What you have got to remember is that the design is only going to be a small part of your budget possibly up to 15% of the total. 

What is probably more important when deciding which designer, you want to work with is, will you get along ( it’s going to a months if not years long relationship), will you get the level service you want, can they deliver the project you want. 

So, we clearly can’t put a number on that length of string, but hopefully you can start to gauge how much it might be per length?

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