Design Tips

How to budget for your new garden

2 Written by Lisa on 23rd Feb 2018 in Design Tips

Working to budgets is part of what I do, but it’s not always easy when there are so many choices available and if make tweaks along the way.  We’re undertaking a small building project at home and it’s exhausting making decisions, even though we’re doing some of it ourselves and therefore don’t have any time pressures.

In the day job, I work with clients to ensure we’ve thought of everything we possibly can before the landscaper prices for the build phase of the project so he can be pretty accurate with his pricing.  The only variance when it comes to construction is when things are changed after the work has started or if something is discovered during the build that couldn’t have been foreseen otherwise, normally under the ground.

I do think it’s easier to budget for the garden as there are less intricate details to take into account (door handles, light switches, paint colours, the list is endless indoors), but without the detailed drawings and specification the spending could easily go through the roof.

So how do you budget if you have a fixed sum of money and what should take priority?

I think planning is the key.  Take the time up front to really hone in on the design and what it will take to bring the design to life.  If you have  sloping garden, for example, there are ways you can work with the slope rather than building expensive retaining walls.  You can plant a slope easily, often with greater effect and it will be much cheaper.

If you know the size of the terrace, the layout and where you might need other hard landscaping materials, it will make your landscaper’s job of quoting much easier.  Equally, if you’re doing the work yourself you’ll be able to easily work out the materials you need and how much you have in the pot for the paving material itself.

Paving can range from £20m2 to £120m2 so sometimes just changing the materials will help you to reduce the spend.  If the layout and balance of the garden is right, a compromise on materials won’t really be as obvious once the garden is furnished with plants and furniture.

When you’re planning the garden bear in mind that hard landscaping is a lot more expensive than soft landscaping.  Depending on the materials you choose, a retaining wall can cost up to £250-300m2 where as a lawn is more like £10-15m2.

Often constructing a wall in the garden is more expensive than it would be for a house extension.  This is because the wall has to withstand different pressures and exposure to the weather.  A free-standing wall, for example, has to withstand the weather on all sides so the materials used have to be fit for purpose.

If you make list of everything you need to source and think about before you get the landscaper in to quote, you’ll have a much better chance of sticking to a budget.  Drawings will really help things along as you’ll be able to work out m2 rates for each of the elements. If you don’t want to work with a professional designer, there are lots of books to help you to design your own garden.

Start with a survey of the site so that you know what’s there now and then draw a plan to scale.  You don’t have to be an artist to do this.  Think of your design as a communication tool for the landscaper and it will take on a whole new meaning.



Winter berries

2 Written by Lisa on 15th Dec 2017 in Design Tips, Plants

I don’t know about you, but I love foraging for foliage at this time of year.  I’m lucky now that we have holly and ivy in the garden, the hedgerows are full of hazel and the woodland up the hill has an abundance of pine cones.  Now that the snow has disappeared, I’ll be cutting some holly at the weekend for Christmas decorations. Read more

A tour of the quarry at Forest of Dean Stone

0 Written by Lisa on 25th Oct 2017 in Design Tips

A couple of weeks ago I visited the quarry and production plant at Forest of Dean Stone. I organised the trip for the local Society of Garden Designer’s “cluster group” I coordinate and it was well worth the visit. Read more

It’s time to refresh your garden furniture

0 Written by Lisa on 21st Apr 2017 in Design Tips, Garden accessories

After a few weeks of dry, sunny days, I can safely say that the world has woken up and started to think about their gardens again.  It’s funny how we “park” all the jobs outside over the winter months, even if we didn’t really intend to. Read more

Planning a house project? Please remember the garden…

0 Written by Lisa on 23rd Feb 2017 in Design Tips

I watched the first episode of The House That 100k Built last night.  I don’t know about you, but I think it’s one of the most inspiring programmes of its type on TV.  I especially love the way Piers Taylor inspires the use of alternative, sometimes waste, materials to create something really individual and inexpensive that elevates the design to another level. Read more

Working with curves

0 Written by Lisa on 27th Jan 2017 in Design Tips

I’ve been drawing the design for a large garden in Hurley this week and it involved rather a huge chunk of time working out where all the radius points of my free-hand curves were. Read more

Why are gardens forgotten in house renovation projects?

0 Written by Lisa on 25th Feb 2016 in Design Tips


Have you been watching the BBC2 programme The £100k House – Tricks of the Trade?  I love it! It’s so inspiring to see what people do to their homes with modest and sometimes really small budgets. We’re certainly getting some great ideas for our own house. Read more

Protecting our precious trees

0 Written by Lisa on 12th Feb 2016 in Design Tips, Plants

Oak tree from the wood floor taken with wide angle lense by Lisa Cox

I’m currently working on a project where we have few trees on site that are subject to a Tree Protection Order (TPO).  Obviously I need to be absolutely sure that I create the new garden in a way that will ensure that the trees aren’t damaged so I’ve been taking advice from a professional arborist to ensure that we’re doing things right. Read more

Planning a new planting scheme – some tips to help you get started

1 Written by Lisa on 5th Feb 2016 in Design Tips

Helenium at Hauser & Wirth Somerset Lisa Cox Garden Designs

Now’s a great time to be planning for what’s to come in the garden and it seems more urgent this year with the rather early appearance of some of the spring bulbs.  Even on our windy hill we have Narcissus ‘Tête-a-Tête’ in flower already and primroses too, which have virtually been flowering since Christmas. Read more

Dealing with sloped gardens – five things to consider before you start

2 Written by Lisa on 25th Jan 2016 in Design Tips

Surveying kit

I’ve just started working with a new client who has a small but tricky garden because it slopes quite steeply and there are two pine trees that are subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Read more

Lisa Cox Welcome

I specialise in helping families to turn their gardens into an extension of their home and into a space that can be used and enjoyed all year round.

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