Garden Design Help For Self Builders

Garden Design Help For Self Builders

Read our tips on garden design for self builders.

When it comes to any property, first impressions matter.  I’ll wager that when you started planning your self build project, you didn’t imagine your lovely new home sitting in the middle of a muddy quagmire.  Building does tend to make a mess.  All of that machinery, those heavy boots, stores of materials and outdoor work areas take their toll on the garden. If you want your property to impress friends and neighbours, it’s important that you get the garden design and landscaping just right.

In this blog you’ll find tips on

  • Planning ahead to manage your external works budget and maximise your VAT reclaim
  • Essential garden design features
  • How working with a garden designer adds value to your property
  • Lifestyle benefits of a beautifully designed garden
  • How to choose the right garden designer for your project

3D garden design for an l-shaped back garden with pergola and utility area

3D garden design helps you to visualise your new garden

Planning Ahead To Manage Budgets

Possibly one of the most important factors when planning and managing a self build project is money.  Making sure that you get best value at every stage of the build and also ensuring that the budget doesn’t run out before your home is ready to move into.

Most project managers will allocate sums of money to each stage of the build.  £x for groundworks £y for windows and doors £z for electrical works etc etc etc.  But what about the landscaping?  How much should you ring fence to spend on the outside of your property?  Without a plan, that’s difficult to decide.

A garden design will allow you to calculate the cost of landscaping your new home.  Alternatively, you can set the budget aside and work with a garden designer to figure out what can be built for that sum of money.

At the time of writing, it’s possible to reclaim the VAT on some landscaping elements but you do need to put your claim in before you move into the property.  Having a garden design in place means that fencing, paths, the driveway and turfing can all be completed as soon as possible so that you can fill in those forms and recoup some of the cost.

A good garden designer can start work as soon as you know the size, shape and position of your home.  In fact, being able to submit plans that include indications of overall aesthetics and steps you are taking towards biodiversity net gain may well help with planning permission. 

You don’t need to start building your garden straight away but you will be able to consider the garden design whilst carrying out groundworks, plumbing and electrical work, and, of course, budgeting!

Remember too, that many garden designers have a waiting list for projects. The sooner you contact a designer, the sooner your design will be ready to work with.

Essential Garden Design Features For Self Builders

Creating a concept garden design is mainly about functionality and layout.  Styling elements such as material choices, colour schemes and planting plans will be added in the next design phase.  Learn more about the garden design process here.

So what will you need to include in your garden design brief?  Parking spaces? Security features?Shelter? Outdoor cooking and dining facilities? Swimming pool? Garden Office? Hot tub? Storage? Lighting? Space for growing food? Play areas?  Does your garden need to be wheelchair friendly or tailored to people with reduced mobility?

Discuss how you would like to use your outdoor spaces and think about the features you will need to make those activities possible.  Your garden designer will be able to help you with this task.

Next, think about simple styling elements that matter to you.  Do you like straight edges or curves? What percentage of your garden should be planting? How much ongoing garden maintenance do you want to do? Is there anything that you definitely don’t want in your garden?

These few snippets of information, combined with the measurements of your garden should be enough for a good garden designer to come up with a concept plan for your plot.

planting for newly landscaped garden with geraniums, iris and grasses

Taking a holistic approach to building a home with a garden brings pleasing results in terms of aesthetics AND usability 

How Working With A Garden Designer Can Add Value To Your Property

I’m sure that most self builders at some point in the project start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to pay for.  If that’s you – it may be tempting to try to save a few pounds by designing and building the garden yourself.  However, inspirational garden design can take the outside of your property to the next level.  It’s possible that by hiring a garden designer the kerb appeal of your home will be raised by several notches and that, in turn, will add value to your property.

Don’t forget too, that working with a well considered garden design – can actually save you money.  Working to an agreed design means that project management is more logical.  You can invite 2-3 landscapers to quote for the work and know that the quotes are like-for-like. And in some cases there may be an opportunity to order materials such as sand, bricks and cement at the same time as buying materials for the house – thus making savings through economies of scale. 

Value however, isn’t just about price.  Value is also linked to a sense of security, enjoyment, self-esteem, wellbeing and versatility.  

Lifestyle Benefits Of A Beautifully Designed Garden

Take my barbecue as an analogy.  I love outdoor cooking and you’ll find me in the garden in all weathers experimenting with different recipes and techniques.  I could have bought a very simple, barbecue to cook burgers, sausages etc.  But instead, I chose a costlier but more sophisticated set up which allows me to cook a wider range of foods – including rotisserie meats, pizza and deserts. The first option would have cost less to buy but I would have quickly become bored with it because it has limited functionality. The second option costs more but offers better value for money because it meets all of my needs.  

An experienced garden designer can add value to your garden by making sure it fulfils all of your needs for practicality, style and a sense of wellbeing.  For what amounts to a tiny proportion of the overall project cost, self builders can get a garden design that will add lifestyle value to their new home.

modern front garden with combination of ornamental grasses and flowering plants

A planting plan from a garden designer can add an amazing “wow” factor to the appearance of a property

How To Choose The Right Garden Designer For Your Project

I hate to say it, but as with many other trades, there are good garden designers and there are mediocre garden designers.  Their skills are not necessarily reflected in their prices either.

If you have a landscaper in mind to build your garden, you could ask them for recommendations for a garden designer. (Ask too for suggestions for designers who might not be suited to your project).  If the landscaper and garden designer have a good working relationship your project will run all the smoother for it.

Search the internet for garden designers who are based near to your property.  Take a good look at portfolio pages on the websites you find.  Do you like their style? How does the text read? Do you feel as though the designer is experienced, knowledgable and easy to work with?  What do their reviews say?

Is the designer a member of either the Society of Garden Designers or the Association of Professional Landscapers? There are strict entry criteria for members of either of these trade bodies and so you know that they work ethically and to a high standard.

Narrow down your list of potential designers to just two or three people.  Phone them for an informal chat – just to see if you ‘gel’ with their personality and to find out if they have any experience working with self builders.  It can be quite difficult to work with creative people who don’t think along the same lines as you do!

Working With Tapestry Design Studios

First on your list of people to chat with is Tapestry Design Studios.  Katie has a knack for designing very stylish gardens that are tailored to the final build budget.  Layout plans can be developed to the amount of detail you need.  You may be confident working with a simple 2D concept plan where you can add your own details such as materials choices and construction drawings.  Alternatively you could opt for a 3D garden design with a ‘walkthrough’ video to help you visualise how you will use your outdoor spaces.  

When you work with Tapestry Design Studios, to design your garden, you are in control of the level of detail supplied.

Click here to contact Tapestry Design Studios

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