Have you ever considered hiring a landscape designer for your outdoor space? As soon as the sun starts to shine, many of us look to our gardens and imagine all the barbeques we’ll enjoy and beers we’ll drink while laying back on our sun-lounger. But is your garden the oasis you have always desired? More often than not, the garden that lays before us is anything but.  Maybe you’ve been putting off redesigning your garden because you are worried that a landscape designer’s design fee will be unaffordable.

Perhaps it’s just that you just don’t know where to find a good garden designer. You may decide to pay for the design only, especially if you have a small garden, but trained landscape gardeners are plentiful.  Ask for personal recommendations. Once you’ve found some you like, be sure to ask these questions before you hire a landscape designer and sign on the dotted line.

1. Invaluable knowledge

When you hire a landscape designer, you’re not just buying a design, you are buying their expertise.  Most landscape designers will have undertaken at least a year of training including some design work to achieve a professional qualification. Depending on the course, they will have spent a number of years studying garden design styles and horticulture.

Landscape design is not just about grabbing a sketch pad and drawing some shapes here and there.  Designers have an in-depth knowledge of plants and what works well and where. They know how to make your garden flow from your back door across the garden through to the back fence.  They also know how to fit all the essential elements together such as the patio, planting beds, outdoor kitchen etc. In short, a designer will provide you with a comprehensive approach to design.

The design process begins on paper. With your collaboration, your designer will create a workable plan that will give you everything you want in your outdoor space whilst bearing in mind the proposed budget and project costs. By the time the initial design is finished, you will know exactly what elements you will have, where they are going to be placed, what the garden will look like and what the project costs are.

2. There’s a process

What might surprise you is that a landscape designer will normally start with problem-solving. It involves identifying the things the client doesn’t like about their garden, the issues they’re dealing with and which aspects of the current landscape design they want to keep.  This fact-finding stage of the process is critically important. If the designer doesn’t know what the issues are with your garden, then how will they go about fixing them?

The next stage of the process is to do a detailed analysis of the outdoor space which includes measuring and observing which areas of the property receive full sun or shade.  There is a lot of research that goes into deciding which plants and design elements would be suitable. Based on the analysis, a designer would create a couple of draft outlines for your approval and hopefully one that you will love.

3. Idea Generation

Landscape designers are always thinking. They get inspiration from everything and everywhere because they live and breathe garden design. They are naturally creative too so coming up with practical and beautiful design ideas will be second nature to them.  An experienced landscape designer will brainstorm ideas with you and come up with innovative and creative garden design ideas you couldn’t have come up with on your own. If you were inspired by a landscape design you saw in a magazine, they can show you how to make the best elements of the design work for you without simply copying what has already been done

4. They Know How To Maximise Space

When space is at a premium, garden and landscape designers can make the best use of your outdoor space. They can make sure that every possible area in your garden is used productively to enhance its functionality and beauty.  Hire a landscape designer that can think outside the box and presents you with ideas that impress you.

5. Construction planning knowledge

Apart from having a creative mind, they also have construction planning expertise.  How would you know if you needed to build a retaining wall or the best stone for the aspect of your garden?

6. Longevity

Landscape designers will understand what will work in the long term.  There’s no point in having X  if Y is going to happen in a few years requiring you to redo your garden.  A garden or landscape designer will create a garden plan for you with a clear maintenance plan based on your specifications so that your garden will look beautiful for years to come.

7. Your landscape designer can be your project manager

Anyone who has worked in landscaping before understands that landscaping can be physically and mentally challenging. There are many elements and different factors that come into play. Whether it be a large pond installation or a small residential garden, the complexities of the project can be managed effectively by an experienced garden or landscape designer who will work hand in hand with the contractor to achieve the best results for you the client.

8. Pay now or pay more later

A good landscape designer and landscaper can be quite expensive, so it is understandable that you might want to do this project yourself. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, then you could end up paying a lot more to fix the problems you either created or didn’t account for.

All in all, it makes sense to hire a professional landscaper to have your garden designed. Landscape designers can curate creative, practical and artistic design ideas for your outdoor space. They can ensure that a garden is both functional and complements your lifestyle.  Hiring a landscape designer saves you time and gives a professional touch to your garden that will add value to your home.

Daniel O’Neill is a landscape construction expert with 20 years of experience.  Based in Muswell Hill, North London, he runs Nordland Landscapes, beautifying gardens all over London and the home counties.