FAQs

FAQs2023-08-11T16:03:58+01:00
Why have I got to pay a health and safety charge?2024-05-07T11:52:14+01:00

Even on small landscaping projects it is a legal requirement that the relevant risk assessments are carried out prior to commencement. Larger site requirements are more stringent, with regular checks, talks, and detailed record keeping. It is your responsibility as the home-owner to ensure this is done not the contractors, so in taking this on for you with a qualified Health and Safety professional we are ensuring that you are covered.

Will I need garden maintenance and how much will that cost?2024-05-07T11:51:44+01:00

You might- it depends really on the plan, your ambitions for the garden and how it will be kept, and your willingness to do some of the work yourselves. Think of it as for a house- if you are happy to run and clean your own home you don’t need a cleaner, but many of us do employ others to help because we are busy and have other priorities.

The cost is dependent on many variables, but a professional garden maintenance operative is typically £25-35 per hour (plus VAT if registered) in the Home Counties, and a mid sized garden might want 4 hours a week to cover basic mowing and plant care?

Can I have just a bit of my garden done or do I have to do it all in one go?2024-05-07T11:51:08+01:00

You can have whatever you want done at a time to suit you! However if you do have a larger schedule of works in mind it is worth discussing in detail with your landscapers as it may be more expensive to carry out in a particular order, or you may have to lift/destroy some of your completed works to carry out other works if not planned properly.

Can I use my garden while the work is happening? (and how quickly can I use it afterwards!)2024-05-07T11:50:42+01:00

If a section can be safely fenced off then yes you can still use it. Otherwise it is best avoided as a building site is rarely a safe place, particularly for children and pets. Newly installed lawns need at least 2 weeks before they are used at all, and most of a landscaping project is best completed properly before you walk on it or use it.

It will be a detailed discussion to be had with the landscaping team as to how quickly you can use it after completion, but typically all the hard landscaping will be useable and you may just have to wait a few weeks to walk on the turf ( a bit longer for full-on play!)

Do I need planning permission for any landscaping work?2024-05-07T11:50:06+01:00

Possibly! At CGLA we are not planning experts – we can give you advice based on our experience, but the planning laws are complicated and vary by Authority so a specialist is advised for any large scheme, or if any of the following are the case:

  • If you have restricted permitted development rights
  • Roof terraces
  • Structures and buildings- usually if they are large or near the boundaries
  • Extensive paving/hard surfaces- especially if this causes run-off outside the site
  • Any works to, or in the root zones of TPO (Tree Preservation Order) trees
  • Listed buildings and conservations areas
  • Where LPA environmental requirements require it (for example related to a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
  • New builds will all require BNG compliance
  • Any works outside of the domestic curtilage
  • Any works changing the ground levels by more than 1m

The most common issue we have to deal with is TPO’s and in particular clients wishing to change the ground level within the root protection zone (which is not permitted). It is also worth noting that since April 2024 ALL new builds will need to consider and make provision for Biodiversity Net Gain.

Is it going to be messy?2024-05-07T11:48:54+01:00

Usually yes! It entirely depends on the work, but anything involving groundworks and construction is going to create at least some mess. This is typically contained by keeping the site tidy, washing down main areas as needed, and removing waste promptly. Dust and mud are the main challenges for a home owner, and we are happy to ensure there is reasonably clean access to your property (laying boards down if needed) and that any mess is managed as promptly as possible.

There can be reasons why mess needs to be contained more fully or avoided almost entirely (when working through a house or roof-terrace, or where tenants or commercial enterprises are involved), requiring materials to be brought in bagged and items to be prefabricated where possible. If this is something key to you we advise a discussion as early as possible with your landscapers as there can be cost and scheduling implications.

Do I need to be around while the work is happening?2024-05-07T11:48:19+01:00

No. As long as there is a clearly agreed plan in place, we will build to that. A few queries will probably arise, or options that occur to the team as they are working (“we have some slabs left over, do you want us to lay them here…?”), so it is helpful to have contact details, but otherwise we can be left to it.

What do I need to do while the landscaping work is going on?2024-05-07T11:47:47+01:00

If everything is agreed you can sit back and relax! You will receive regular updates and we will ask if we have any queries. The invoicing schedule is agreed in advance so all you need to do is respond in a timely manner!

The site will be operated in a clean and tidy manner as far as is possible, with a better clean prior to the weekend. We do not however assume a full clean up until the end of the project so if you need that for an event do let us know in plenty of time.

Building sites are dangerous places and we ask our clients to keep pets and children out of the site works, and let us know if you would like us to arrange fencing to enforce this.

When is the best time to do landscaping?2024-05-07T11:47:17+01:00

Landscaping work can continue year-round, but is best planned to suit the individual site and project.

Some jobs simply cannot be done in frost or rain, and extensive groundworks are definitely best done when the ground is drier (especially if you are on a clay soil). Planting can come in at any time as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen but planting in a heatwave is best avoided if possible! Some larger planting (tree and hedging) can however only be obtained in winter.

Many clients would like to use their gardens in summer so may wish to avoid this time, and Christmas can be another time people wish to avoid if possible.

In short therefore, there are good reasons for doing different aspects of a job at different times across the year, and it is worth assessing for your specific project. We will almost always fall foul of one aspect that would be better done in other conditions, but that is part and parcel of landscaping.

Do I get a choice in materials, plants etc?2024-05-07T11:46:47+01:00

Yes. Typically these are all discussed and agreed in the design stage of the project prior to the landscaping being costed. You are welcome to open up this discussion again with our team, and costs can be adjusted if needed to suit the changes. If you do not have a detailed plan that covers these items you will need one before you get much further, and our CGLA team of designers will be happy to assist.

Do you a minimum project value?2024-05-07T11:46:20+01:00

No, although you may wish to look at typical costs for landscaping projects for fully managed builds to give you a guide as to what these are likely to cost.

At CGLA we work most effectively on design led projects requiring a managed build and a high quality finish, although we are also set up to carry out smaller planting projects- for which we have a separate design and horticultural team.

Why is my existing patio wobbly (and what can I do about it)?2024-05-07T11:44:26+01:00

In most cases this is the result of poor base preparation and installation. If the base was not created out of a firm compacted material (preferably 150mm of compacted MOT type 1) then it will sink or move, allowing the slabs to wobble. This is compounded if the patio slabs were laid on a series of “spots” of mortar rather than a full concrete base, and if the jointing is incomplete or failing.

If the slabs are otherwise good and it is only a few wobbly ones, it can be worth relaying those and possibly repointing. If the base is clearly substandard (you can usually see this when you lift one of the slabs) it may be time to relay the whole thing.

Some patios are laid on pedestals deliberately to allow a floating construction over a basement or on a roof terrace. These are not jointed, and allow drainage through to the layer underneath. Whilst when carried out well these are pretty good, in our experience it is almost impossible for this to be as stable as a patio laid on type 1, a full mortar bed and pointed.

Will I be able to look after all this planting?2024-05-07T11:43:40+01:00

An increase in the amount of planting in your garden is often a key part of a landscaping upgrade. Well chosen plants are likely to be lower maintenance than the lawn they replace, but obviously you will need a detailed discussion with the designers to ensure you are happy with this.

All planting requires some maintenance, this might be just mowing, a trim back once a year, weeding and autumn leaf clearance. Watering is key, particularly in the first few years, and you may wish to install irrigation to manage this if you are not able to keep an eye on it during drier periods.

A maintenance schedule may be helpful to you, or arranging a regular meet up with the designer or horticultural team to provide you with a list of jobs. Bringing in a team once a quarter can be a good cost effective way of keeping on top of these and ensuring your garden develops as it should.

Can I do the landscaping in stages if the overall project is more than my budget?2024-05-07T11:43:13+01:00

Usually yes. There are certain groups of works that make more sense to do together, and staging the works can cost a little more if the later phases have to be carried out going across completed areas of the plot. This is a good discussion to have in detail at the budget costings stage of your project to ensure that a sensible phasing will meet your budget and progress aspirations.

How does it work if I have multiple contractors on site?2024-05-07T11:42:16+01:00

Usually very well! Most larger projects have multiple trades such as a main contractor and various electrical and engineering firms involved. The main contractor for a house build is in charge of the overall site so does need to be involved in discussions around the programme and having others on site, and may require the landscaping contractor be taken under their umbrella to satisfy their health and safety and programme requirements. A positive working arrangement is almost always achieved, although on tight sites and where the main contractor is on restrictive penalty clauses this can become fractious at times! A good early discussion is encouraged, and choosing teams used to working in this way will improve your chances of an overall successful outcome.

At CGLA we have worked on several sites with more than 100 other people involved, and with many prestigious building companies such as RJ Clyde, RW Armstrong, Belvedere Homes and Brown and Carroll. We are used to fighting round each other for space and negotiating amenably amongst ourselves to ensure the works proceed as smoothly as is humanly possible.

What if I change my mind or add things mid project?2024-05-07T11:41:42+01:00

Almost all projects involve some additions or changes. We have a smooth process for costing and approving any changes so that you can decide based on up-to-date information and keep track. Pretty much anything can be adjusted or changed, although there will be a cost associated with most and there are a few exceptions such as fully bespoke commissioned items. Even a change of heart on materials choices can be dealt with, most suppliers will ask for a restocking fee, but this is usually a better solution than living with something you have decided you don’t like!

How long will my landscaping take?2024-05-07T11:41:16+01:00

Obviously this is dependent on the project, and you will be given a programme for expected works prior to commencement, and regular updates on progress. In most cases we come in on time, although on larger projects with multiple dependencies from suppliers and works by others timings can and do slip. We are obviously weather dependent for some jobs, and find that protracted periods of rain can cause delays. At CGLA we keep you informed at every stage, with regular site meetings as required, and a weekly project update.

Your web site looks expensive – are you?2024-05-07T11:40:42+01:00

It’s a great question- we are delighted that our projects look so good!

CGLA are typically best value for design-led projects requiring a fully managed build. These often require integration of hard and soft landscaping and complex features or infrastructure such as outdoor kitchens, lighting, irrigation, firepits, pools and pergolas.

This is a different approach from a basic piece of hard landscaping replacement, for which we would indeed expect a local builder to be cheaper.

We will require a detailed design to be in place for all but the most obvious of works, as this is needed to provide accurate costings and a clear expectation for the client. The design does not need to be one created by our own in-house team, and we have had the pleasure of working with many top garden designers, including building Chelsea Gold Medal winning gardens for Marcus Barnett, Andy Sturgeon and Sarah Raven.

Whilst we at CGLA can and do take on smaller projects, particularly locally, these work best where the clients prioritise a high quality process and finish and value the wealth of expert advice available. This is a personal trade-off, and one we are happy to discuss in detail with prospective clients.

What qualifications and trade associations should I look for?2024-05-07T11:39:57+01:00

A proven track record is what you are looking for, and a good proxy for this can be membership of a relevant trade body or relevant awards.

The main trade bodies in Landscaping are BALI and APL. These are both excellent organisations and offer a range of accreditations. You otherwise would be well-advised to seek a long standing track record, with multiple completed projects that are at the standard and scale that you are thinking of. An RHS gold medal for construction is also worth looking for.

At CGLA we have a 25-year track record, over 900 completed projects and several RHS gold medals (including the best constructor award) under our belts. We have plenty of examples of our work on our website, and are happy to share a more tailored selection and references to our prospective clients.

How do I check prices of materials?2024-05-07T11:39:14+01:00

These days most materials can be reviewed and checked on line. Internet suppliers can be brilliant for one-off purchases by home-owners and end of line deals may well be a great way to resource a project on a budget if you have the time to hunt around and arrange the deliveries.

Having said that, most commercial landscapers will want to use reliable suppliers who regularly provide top quality materials on time, in full, and resolve and problems fast and without quibble. They also want to be able to order more that is identical if a problem arises or a change requires it. That means that even if the headline price is cheap, seeking internet offers from multiple untested suppliers is rarely the best choice for a whole project unless you are managing it yourself and up for the time and possible delays.

Remember also to add to the baseline quantities to allow for cutting wastage (usually around 10%, dependent on the design) and breakages.

See also FAQ “Can I supply my own materials”

What if there is damage at my home?2024-05-07T11:38:19+01:00

As a rule, your Landscapers will repair promptly anything that they damage, and they should try very hard to avoid this! Site protection is likely to include boards to cover existing hard landscaping (particularly driveways and patios), sheeting indoors, and tree protection or site fencing to manage areas of use.

In our experience, if the site is protected properly damage is unusual, but things can happen. If paving, brickwork, fencing or other hard landscaping is damaged it will be replaced or repaired.

The exceptions to this are underground obstacles not advised of (such as cables and pipes), groundwater ingress/changes, and plants or other items that need to be moved as part of the plans and do not survive the move.

What guarantees have I got that work will go according to plan?2024-05-07T11:37:53+01:00

At CGLA we guarantee to deliver the work according to our agreed bill of quantities and plans. Probably your best way to check this is to check the google reviews of your chosen landscapers, and to ask to speak to other clients. Getting to a great end point is something we are utterly confident in doing and have the back up of over 900 projects to support it.

It is worth noting that timings in landscaping are always more uncertain than we would like (the weather Gods can get in the way!), and unless we have agreed a “drop-dead” date (such as for a party or wedding) the project completion date is not part of that guarantee. We keep you up to date with progress (including any hold-ups) with regular meetings and a weekly catch-up email so that you are confident during the work that we are on top of it all and can plan accordingly.

Will there be a lot of noise and disruption?2024-05-07T11:37:24+01:00

This depends on the site, the access, and the scale of the job. Some parts of a project are intrinsically noisy (such as stone cutting and piling) but your landscaper can do their best to restrict when this is done.

We suggest a detailed conversation with your landscaper that covers hours of working, times when noisy work is acceptable, and delivery logistics. Key questions to ask:

  • Do you need to park cars on your drive or access a garage?
  • Where will a skip or materials sit?
  • Are there time restrictions from you or your planning authority on deliveries or noisy work?
  • Do you have pets and children that need to be fenced out of the working areas?
  • Is the access tight or are there weight/height/width restrictions? (this can impact delivery costs significantly)
  • Are there neighbours that will need warning/communicating with and who is going to do this?
  • Roof terraces and other “through the house” works require a very detailed discussion as to methodology to minimise damage and disruption

As a rule, Landscapers will assume broadly free access to the site and space to park, store materials and organise their own programme unless otherwise agreed. Do have a good discussion before finalising the implementation so that you know what to expect.

How do I check value for money with trees and other plants?2024-05-07T11:36:51+01:00

You will typically be provided with a detailed planting list which you can send out to alternative suppliers. Check the sizes, forms, and heights carefully, as well as any guarantees.

Larger stock (particularly large trees) are definitely specialist items so you may struggle to find anywhere to price these and your best bet for a value check is to ask another landscaper to quote, although we are more than happy to suggest large tree nurseries to visit and review. We recommend that you obtain supply and planting quotes for these as they require very special handling, offloading, moving and anchoring, as well as complex import processes for European stock.

At CGLA we usually offer a supply, lay out, and planting package, and rarely find it helpful to the client to split this up. If someone else supplies the plants, they are best placed to plant them and hold the guarantee.

Can I get my own materials?2024-05-07T11:35:59+01:00

This is something to discuss in detail with your Landscaper. In general, they will prefer to source themselves as this means they can be responsible for the whole job. Some clients prefer to source their own decorative items such as furniture, pots, and sculptures, but basic building materials are best left to the experts.

If you wish to source your own stone, for example, you will need to take responsibility for its timely arrival (and cover the cost of delays if this does not happen), arrange returns if any is substandard, and fight the supplier if there are subsequent problems (this can and does happen!). In most cases, your Landscaper is better placed with the suppliers to do this. Complex items like outdoor kitchens are definitely best managed by a single supplier unless you are happy to spend the time on it that is required to get it all right.

Whilst there is a cost to having someone else manage the whole job, this does typically work out more cost effective for most items.

The exception to this is for smaller projects you may be able to find a “labour only” contractor operating below the VAT threshold. In these cases you will be asked to directly pay for all materials, and should discuss in detail how these will be sourced.

Will I get the end result I am expecting?2024-05-07T11:35:13+01:00

Typically the more detailed the design in the first place, the more confident you can be that the end result you have in your head is indeed the result you are expecting. Similarly, the construction quote should be detailed and itemised- do not assume that the quote covers everything in the garden unless it is specifically on the list.

If you only have a scribble on a piece of paper for either the design or the construction quote there is a great deal more room for error, but this still might be adequate from something very simple. For most full make-overs you will want a full scaled plan with materials and planting detailed, and 3D visuals to show the garden from all angles prior to agreeing a quote for the implementation. This needs to be supported by a detailed “bill of quantities” that covers every item the builders are expecting to deliver, with details of quantities and exclusions.

How will I know my landscaping deposit is safe?2024-05-07T11:34:16+01:00

All landscapers will ask for a deposit in advance of commencing works to allow them to mobilise a team and order the materials and machinery they need to commence work. Your best way to check that this is safe is to use a company that is well established and financed. On larger projects, after the initial deposit, a valuation methodology may be employed, where each invoice (typically monthly) is based on a formal or informal valuation of the works completed on site, allowing you to see that you are paying for the work as it is done. If this approach is employed, you will be asked to pay very promptly to allow work to continue without causing a hold-up.

How will I know if my landscaping is good value?2024-05-07T11:33:10+01:00

Checking the value on your landscaping installation can be a challenge. Obtaining a second quotation for the works is often a good route, although the lack of clear standards means that items can be hard to compare accurately.

Planting in particular is easy to make look cheaper as plant pricing is related to sizes so check that the pot size and heights are the same between quotes. Materials need to be signed off with you based on samples as there is a lack of consistency in naming materials (particularly stone), and you will want to be confident that the hidden parts of the garden (the build ups and installation methods) are appropriate.

At CGLA we are happy to work with you on your quotation to ensure you are getting best value across the project.

Can I have my garden for this summer?2024-05-01T15:37:11+01:00

It depends on the complexity, scale and how decisive you are! As a general guide, if we are having this discussion in February there is a fighting chance, and by May it is much harder to achieve as landscaping teams tend to be heavily booked by then. If you are keen to do this it is best to let us know as soon as you possibly can.

If you design my garden do I have to use CGLA to implement it?2024-05-01T15:36:32+01:00

No! We are happy to discuss with you whether we are the best people to landscape your garden, but our specialist team is not always the best choice for every project (not least because they are not always available on the time-line that suits you!).

If you think this will be something important to you, do let your designer know early and we can factor this in to our planning as soon as we can.

How much will a topographic survey cost?2024-05-01T15:35:44+01:00

A professional survey on a small plot typically costs around £500, rising to around £1800 for a larger suburban garden. We will obtain a quote for you as part of design proposal, or you are welcome to commission your own.

Do I need a topographic survey?2024-05-01T15:35:10+01:00

An accurate base plan is the key to ending up with an accurate garden design. For large plots, sites on slopes/multiple levels and with important existing features (trees, buildings and existing hard landscaping) this will be critical.

If you have base plans this can save the fee, although they do need to be up to date and include the levels unless the site is completely flat.

A small, simple plot without much in the way of existing features to be retained can be designed without a professional survey- we can use a scan to get the details we need, although may result in a less accurate final plan and can impact the accuracy of the implementation costings.

What will my garden cost to landscape?2024-05-01T15:34:11+01:00

This can be complex and hard to answer until a detailed design is in place, but we can give some ranges, averages and specific examples – see our extended article HERE

How do I check the value for money on planting supply?2024-05-01T14:51:12+01:00

Different designers approach planting in different ways. Typically a list of proposed planting is provided, with sizes and numbers so you are welcome to send this to alternative suppliers or landscapers should you choose.

Make sure you include the designers (or whoever will do this) time to select and lay out planting in your comparisons, and delivery costs can be a big one for larger orders. Very large stock may need import licensing, specialist offloading, and/or specialist equipment to move and anchor.

Plants are usually sold on the pot size for perennials and the pot size plus a height for most other stock. Plant costs increase exponentially with size so a common way to cut the costs is to supply at smaller sizes- you may be happy to do this anyway, make sure you know that this is what is happening as otherwise you may be waiting rather longer for the result you are after!

Trees are typically sold on the girth of the trunk (sometimes plus the height and the form of the tree).

Comparisons are reasonably easy for perennials, but much harder to make like-for like when it comes to larger specimens where on-line options are limited.

Hedging is easy to compare – the fabulous Hedges Direct have great stock and calculators for how much hedging you might need for different lengths of hedging.

On all larger stock of trees and hedging there is a difference in price and quality between what is called “rootball stock” (ie lifted during dormancy from growing in a field) and “pot grown”. The former is usually more bushy for a given height, is only available November to March and will be cheaper for a given size.

As a rule, if you will want to select your own planting are knowledgeable enough to check it out and lay it out in planting position yourself, you may well enjoy getting your own stock. It could be cheaper for perennials, but is unlikely to be cheaper for larger stock as retail nurseries are not geared up to sell larger items in the quantities that the wholesale nurseries do.

Otherwise you may do better to ask a designer or landscaper to do the lot- they can deal with deliveries, returns, layout and substitutions.

 

What happens if my plants die?2024-05-01T14:48:43+01:00

Your supplier should discuss this with you before agreeing to supply them. In most cases, if the planting has been supplied and planted by one supplier and they have been adequately watered and cared for, they will be replaced free of charge within the first season after planting. Usual exceptions to this are likely to be extreme weather conditions, unusual waterlogging of the ground and animal damage.

As a rule, if a plant is looking miserable, particularly a larger specimen such as a tree, do contact your supplier as soon as possible- it is almost impossible to tell why something has died once it is dry and crispy, so the supplier is likely to be less sympathetic if the tree has clearly been dead for months!

At CGLA we typically offer a no quibble guarantee for the first growing season on smaller planting that has been supplied and installed by ourselves. We can offer longer guarantees on larger specimen stock and hedging, subject to an up front agreement on site conditions and care.

What is the design process?2024-05-01T14:48:06+01:00

We have a longer article on our garden design process (HERE), but a quick guide is as follows:

  • Take the brief: Come and meet with you to understand your site and your requirements (you typically do not need to pay for that meeting)
  • Pull together base information: Organise a measured survey of the site (to include levels if it is not flat)
  • Tease out what will work for you: Create suitable mood boards and outputs to tease out styles and approaches that will meet your aesthetic preferences
  • Show you their initial proposals: Draw up the proposed plans for discussion with you and create outputs to share
  • Update and re-issue these preliminary plans to reflect those discussions
  • Create final outputs dependent upon the needs of the project and the site- for you, your builders and other contractors as needed (including planning if required)
  • Liaise with whoever you need them to: On larger projects there will also typically be more people involved such as architects and other contractors with whom we will need to liaise.
There are TPO trees in my garden, what does this mean?2024-05-01T14:46:03+01:00

A TPO (Tree Preservation Order) means that you are not permitted to do anything to the trees covered by it (prune, lop or fell the tree(s)) without applying to the Local Planning Authority for permission to do so. What is perhaps less well understood is that you also cannot carry out any works within the root zone of the trees (a rule of thumb is this is the equivalent of a circle on the ground the same size as the canopy) including any digging, hard surfaces or buildings. On a building site you may not even store materials within the root zones, and tree protection fencing is typically compulsory to protect all relevant stock.

You can remove trees covered by a TPO only if you apply to do so, the Tree Officer is likely to be amenable to removing diseased trees, those that are dangerous or causing crowding to better trees, or those likely to cause damage to existing buildings. In most cases they will expect a suitable replacement to be made.

TPO submissions typically take at least 6 weeks.

A good designer will take these into account and work around TPO trees, and great trees are a major asset to any scheme and expensive to replace so it is worth planning with care.

I have a lot in my garden I want to keep, can I do that?2024-05-01T14:44:58+01:00

Yes! Good planting is definitely worth keeping, particularly if it can stay where it is. If smaller planting needs to be moved to be retained, it can prove uneconomic to lift, store until the revised garden is ready, and replant, as opposed to getting new stock in. We advise a detailed discussion around retaining plants of particular sentimental or intrinsic value, as well as those that are most likely to survive the move in good shape.

Will a garden designer work on a fixed price?2024-05-01T14:44:07+01:00

Typically yes. As far as I am aware, all designers will offer a fixed price that will cover a specific scope of works for most projects. Check that the proposed scope covers the stages you want (does it cover budgeting and value-engineering changes for example? Do you want support during construction and how is this covered?). Planning work is often taken outside of fixed price works as the planners are so unpredictable, if you are going into a planning process or need discharge of planning conditions check how this is covered.

At CGLA we are sometimes asked to work on an hourly rate, and it can work well so are happy to discuss. It is worth saying that we typically log far more hours than are part of our fixed price proposals so it is unlikely to be a lower cost option, just more flexible for you to use as you wish.

What design qualifications should I be looking for?2024-05-01T14:43:19+01:00

Great designers come from a range of backgrounds and in most cases their portfolio is more important than their qualifications. Having said that, you may want a qualified Landscape Architect for larger commercial schemes, Garden Design qualifications are many and varied, but seeking clear evidence of completed projects, awards (such as the coveted RHS Gold Medal award), or membership of the Society of Garden Designers will give you confidence that the individual has significant experience.

Who will work on my designs?2024-05-01T14:42:44+01:00

Your lead designer will remain the main point of contact, and (barring emergencies and the odd holiday!) will be there for all the meetings so that there is consistency throughout the project. Our design team work collaboratively, so we will bring in others as needed, and usually there will be at least one other designer involved so that there is always someone available to answer queries and keep momentum on the project.

How do I get to input my ideas?2024-05-01T14:42:09+01:00

At CGLA, we will always take a detailed brief before commencement. We usually ask you to do some homework- looking for images that excite you or that represent your ideas. From that point we will share with you our designs in 3D in a series of collaborative staged meetings to capture your thoughts and input at each stage. Some clients are keen to do more research themselves at various stages, others like to see our suggestions and then comment.

What if the design costs too much to build and I am left with nothing?2024-05-01T14:40:53+01:00

We have advice on landscaping costs that we can share before we start (HERE) so that you are at least prepared for broad scales of cost. As designs emerge however, there can be elements that end up costing more than you are happy with and it is for this reason that we offer an optional budgeting and value-engineering process within our design package. Typically the design implementation is costed once the designs stabilise (usually at the 50% stage of a design) and can then be redesigned if the budget is coming out at an unacceptable level. This can be an iterative process, and we cant guarantee to get you everything you want within any given budget cap, but we can offer to show you what you can do and present options to reduce, change, omit or phase as suits you best.

What if I don’t like the designs?2024-05-01T14:39:17+01:00

The CGLA design process assumes that there will be several stages to the design and this will be a refining process. Whilst in 90% of cases the first iteration is pretty close, once in a while a more substantial change is needed where we have gone down a route that doesn’t suit or have misunderstood something. This is part and parcel of a great design process and we expect to revise the designs as required to suit you. If this does happen, it is our job to understand why and what need to be changed to better suit your aspirations and in our 900 or so projects to date we have never failed to produce a design that the client is happy with at the end of the design process.

Achieving the implementation within a specific budget is more challenging sometimes, and we typically offer a value-engineering and redesign phase within our design process to address this.

How do I know you are the right designer for me before I have to pay?2024-05-01T14:38:28+01:00

Choosing a designer that you are confident in is key to a successful process. At CGLA our Portfolio is available on our website and we are always happy to share more details of similar projects as well as sample outputs for the various design stages. In more than 900 projects we have literally never had a client dissatisfied with the designs once they have been reviewed and updated to suit as is allowed for in our design process- although we don’t guarantee to get them right first time!

If I get a design done will the landscaping cost more?2024-05-01T14:35:46+01:00

With a clear brief it should not, and in fact you have a better chance of value-engineering the design to best match your budget requirements. A good designer may well think of additions you had not previously considered, and will detail properly to include preparation and groundworks that might not have been in any preliminary costings you have in mind, but it will not be intrinsically pricier. If a tight budget to deliver your priorities is your primary concern, a good designer is there to help you achieve that in the best way possible. They cannot magic away the costs of these, but they can share with you options and alternatives to better hit your target budget.

Where can I see some of your previous work?2023-08-10T11:19:22+01:00

There are lots of examples on our web site, and we can usually arrange a local visit if you wish to see a garden before proceeding with us.

Do I have any options if I don’t want you to take the waste away?2023-08-10T11:18:50+01:00

Absolutely – we are happy to dispose of garden waste on site if you have compost bins, or arrange for these if you haven’t.

How much do you charge for garden waste disposal?2023-08-10T11:18:17+01:00

We charge by the bulk bag for normal garden waste and these rates are clearly itemised in our maintenance proposal to you as well as on our invoices

What are your payment options?2023-08-10T11:17:53+01:00

We invoice monthly in arrears and ask that the invoices are paid within 7 days. Larger additional planting is usually charged with a deposit in advance

If you need more time than expected, can you stay and finish the job?2023-08-10T11:17:27+01:00

Sometimes! Clearly we don’t leave something half done that needs to be finished on the day like planting a tree or a load of new plants, but we normally arrange the work so that we can leave promptly and stick to the timings agreed

What if the gardeners finish the job earlier than expected?2023-08-10T11:16:57+01:00

There is always plenty to do in a garden so we usually fill the time we have agreed with additional weeding or trimming as needed.

How is the cost of garden maintenance work calculated?2023-08-10T11:16:19+01:00

Typically, we charge an hourly rate for the team to visit, and charge for waste to be taken away by the bag if you want it removed from site. Any planting additions or extra work are quoted in advance.

How can I schedule a service with you?2023-08-10T11:15:51+01:00

Just call or email us and arrange for one of our team to come and meet with you for a chat and we can take it from there.

Do you work on weekends and bank holidays?2023-08-10T11:15:11+01:00

No, like most companies we want our staff to feel valued, so give weekends and national holidays to take a break.

Will the landscapers need access to my house?2023-08-10T11:12:40+01:00

Only if the only access to the garden is through the house. We have carried out many such projects- most commonly in central London or for roof terraces where we may need access to common areas as well. This would be taken into account at the planning and costing stage as we will need to agree with you routes through the house, protection of the internal space, and appropriate clean up levels each day.

Otherwise the only need to be in the house is usually if you invite the designer in for a cuppa, or if the electrician needs access to the fuse-board.

Do I need to do anything to help my project go smoothly?2023-08-10T11:12:01+01:00

At CGLA we have a specific “Living with CGLA” pack that goes into a great deal more detail as to what to expect on a day to day basis and how we can help to make things as smooth as possible. We will share this prior to commencement of work.

Do you guarantee the plants?2023-08-10T11:11:35+01:00

As living things, most plants are not guaranteed by the nurseries and therefore we cannot offer a guarantee either. Having said that, we can if preferred offer a guarantee on larger trees if we source them from some specialist nurseries and they plant them for you. This is typically a good idea when buying just one or 2 prized specimens as it costs more up front but can give you peace of mind. It is worth saying that well chosen stock from reputable nurseries very rarely fail if planted properly and kept moist.

Do you supply plants?2023-08-10T11:11:05+01:00

Yes we are specialists at designing, sourcing and installing plants. We consider this to be often the piece of magic that makes a garden design sing!

How do I go about hiring a landscaper?2023-08-10T11:10:31+01:00

The first question a landscaper will ask you is “do you have a detailed design and specification?”. If you have this you can contact as many or as few as you wish, asking for recommendations from friends or internet searches to find people whose work looks to be in line with your project. We recommend meeting with and discussing in detail your design before asking for a quotation, as they will definitely want to see the site before quoting. You should always ask to see samples, and have a full detailed breakdown of costs and materials before finalising any quotations.

If you are working on a new build or extension it may be that your builders can carry out the hard landscaping elements of your garden build, and you can then ask a specialist landscaper to carry out the parts that they are not best placed to do- such as the planting and other soft landscaping. At CGLA we are delighted to work on soft landscaping projects and can work with your builders to achieve the best and most cost-effective dove-tailing of our contract with theirs.

 

Will landscaping work upset my neighbours?2023-08-10T11:09:56+01:00

This can happen, although good communication and considerate builders will usually make this a minor annoyance rather than a big deal. We have worked on cul-de-sacs and roof terraces with incredibly restricted access and very close neighbours, as well as plots in sensitive planning areas where neighbours and tree officers are already at loggerheads! These situations require tact and diplomacy to keep things moving smoothly and we work hard with our clients to ensure there is the minimum of disruption, noise at bad times, and mess.

When is the best time to build a garden?2023-08-10T11:09:27+01:00

We work year round so there is no set time. Having said that, there may be time constraints from your side (if for example we are working on a new build or extension and there are other people on site or access is limited during phases of your work. Large scale ground works are best completed in the drier weather as rain soaked sites can become swampy and messy very quickly, but sometimes the programme means we just have to work through this. Winter dormancy (November to March ish) is the time to plant hedging and large trees if possible- the stock will be larger and cheaper, and some larger trees and hedging are not available at all outside of this time. Most planting is container grown and can be planted at any time, although we avoid frozen or waterlogged ground, and some landscaping tasks such as pointing and rendering cannot be done in very low temperatures.

Can I have just part of my garden landscaped?2023-08-10T11:08:51+01:00

Yes definitely! We can and do work in parts of larger gardens, sometimes on a rolling basis.

How long will it take to landscape my garden?2023-08-10T11:08:24+01:00

This depends on the scale of the work, the access and the time of year. We will always provide a build programme as part of our costing pack and discuss it with you as the work proceeds. As a general guide we do advise not planning specific events tight against any build programme as the unforeseen can always happen! We can work to specific absolutely fixed deadlines (shows/weddings/parties etc) but we do need to know this up front as there is a different approach (and cost!) to this kind of project.

What happens if I want to make alterations during the build?2023-08-10T11:07:52+01:00

This is fine – most people do make some changes and additions during a build and we have a process to deal with this through issuing a formal cost or design variation for your approval. In most cases there is a cost involved and we prepare this as quickly as possible. It is worth flagging that design changes can hold up the ongoing build schedule while the costs are prepared and agreed, and the knock on impacts on the rest of the design can add cost and time elsewhere as well. Our excellent project managers work closely with our clients to help them manage this process and smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.

How do you charge and when do I have to pay?2023-08-10T11:07:20+01:00

We will provide a clear billing schedule with our design proposal or build programme. Typically, this will involve a deposit and then a series of stage payments.

Should I use a garden designer or a landscaper?2023-08-10T11:06:35+01:00

You should use a specialist garden designer to design your garden and a landscaper to build it. We offer both of these services, but they are different skills and we have separate teams to deliver those services. There is an advantage in having the same company do both as the co-ordination is simplifies and the designer can remain in place to ensure the construction is as they envisaged, but this can be addressed with good communication and can work well either way.

How long will it take to build?2023-08-10T11:06:01+01:00

Depends on the project of course- at present bear in mind that most construction teams will be fully booked for some time, and the supply chain is still not operating as it was before covid and Brexit- construction work is taking a lot longer than it did! We can give you a clear estimate once the programme is fixed.

What is the difference between a Garden Designer, Landscape Architect, Landscaper and Landscape Gardener?2023-08-10T11:03:55+01:00

Garden designers usually have a specific garden design qualification, and this can be anything from a short course to several years of practical experience and classroom study. This variability in skill and experience means that seeing their portfolio is probably more useful than seeing their qualifications! The highest badge of honour for a UK garden designer is the RHS Gold Medal that can be awarded for a garden at one of the major RHS shows (such as Chelsea and Hampton Court). This is given to designers who have, in the opinion of the judging panel, demonstrated the very highest standards of design and execution. Most garden designers focus on domestic projects and many have direct implementation experience.

Landscape Architecture is a formal degree level qualification that covers a broader range of skills, typically including commercial and public realm work as well as large scale developments. This formal education and broad design skill means that a Landscape Architect is likely to be the best option to help with the largest commercial schemes, although their skill set is equally useful on larger domestic schemes and design-led smaller schemes.

At CGLA we have a mixed team of both Garden Designers and Landscape Architects so that we can draw on the widest possible range of skills for all of our projects.

A Landscape Gardener is a term used to describe a professional gardener who also carries out some design work and/or landscaping implementation. It is usually applied to a ‘Jack-of-all trades’ and this may be the best port of call for smaller projects or those on a very tight budget.

How long will it typically take?2023-08-10T11:03:18+01:00

A garden design process is iterative- we usually take a few weeks from commencement to come back to you with the first designs for review, and then, depending on the scale and complexity of the design, a few weeks between iterations to reach a final design. We are usually guided by our clients in terms of how much of a rush they are in, although obviously when we are busy it can take us a bit longer. We will always advise at each stage as to when we plan to prepare the next set of drawings for review and try to plan around your availability.

Do you charge for revisions to the design?2023-08-10T11:02:47+01:00

The design process allows for revisions as we go through. There are usually 2-3 main stages of formal outputs and the opportunity to comment and amend. We do charge for amendments after the final design has been agreed and issued, or for major changes to the brief (if for example the new house design changes or you decide to add a swimming pool).

What would you recommend for a small garden v a large garden?2023-08-10T11:02:19+01:00

Small gardens typically have proportionately more hard landscaping, although this does depend on what you want to achieve from the space. Larger spaces can have more lawns and more variety, with perhaps more distinct areas or even “rooms” whereas a small garden most commonly needs a strong theme, great use of proportion and scale, and creative use of all the available space (like walls, boundary structures and screening). As a result a small space often needs to be more ‘designed’ for it to work well.

What would work best in a low maintenance garden?2023-08-10T11:01:48+01:00

95% of our clients ask for a low maintenance garden so this is something we are used to working with. In reality all gardens need some maintenance- even if the whole space were hard landscaped without any planting or lawns, it will need regular cleaning, consideration of drainage and some ongoing maintenance. Between this and a massive garden with herbaceous borders and formal lawns, there is a vast middle ground that most people will want to explore. Using good hard surfaces, automatic watering systems and well tempered plants will typically achieve a great deal to keep maintenance down whilst still allowing you to have colourful planting and a green retreat!

Do you build the gardens yourself?2023-08-10T11:01:05+01:00

We do have our own landscaping team who can carry the designs through to completion, but we offer design as a standalone service so that you can choose who is best to build your garden once the design is completed. We are happy to construct gardens designed by others and design gardens that will be built by your own builders, as well as working on a hybrid basis where we carry out the soft landscaping only or project manage third party builders. We are very flexible and can discuss all these options with you.

What are the benefits of using a garden designer?2023-08-10T11:00:03+01:00

A garden design will allow you to plan and fully cost any landscaping work before you proceed. You will be able to see the space in full 3D to assess how well it works for you, make choices on materials and where you wish to invest so that there are no surprises. You will also be able to use the wealth of creativity and experience of our design team to make your home beautiful and inviting as well as practical and a good investment.

My partner and I disagree on most things – how will that work in a garden design?2023-08-10T10:59:32+01:00

It is our job to try to find the areas of intersection in peoples tastes rather than you having to compromise, although we can’t guarantee to resolve things you fundamentally disagree on, we can usually come up with something that both parties really like!

Some people give the design fees back against construction costs – can you do that?2023-08-10T10:58:57+01:00

We don’t offer this – we prefer to be clear about what our designs cost and leave you to decide who you want to construct your garden rather than typing you in. In general most things we get for nothing are not of the finest quality and we think professional services fall into that category!

Can you work around our current plants/features ideas?2023-08-10T10:55:27+01:00

Yes of course! We can advise where we think it is a good idea or is likely to compromise the results, but the content of the design is up to you.

Do I need two gardeners, can’t I have just one?2023-08-10T10:57:49+01:00

It is largely not safe or practical to have just one person on a client site at one time. Lifting mowers in and out of vans and working alone with machinery are health and safety risks so we typically send our teams out in pairs.

How do you know how long it will take without seeing the garden first?2023-08-09T11:38:05+01:00

We don’t! we will always come and visit and discuss with you what you want to achieve before quoting you for the work. Even having seen it once we don’t know quite how it will grow, and none of us has a crystal ball as to the weather which impacts how things go. That is why we charge on the time that is used and get as much done as we can in that time.

How often do I need gardeners?2023-08-09T11:37:32+01:00

That is up to you. Most gardens benefit from weekly maintenance, but smaller and lower maintenance plots can work well with less frequent visits. Some clients like to look after their own gardens and just call in help when they want a more comprehensive go at it, or to deal with the lawns themselves and have more skilled people dealing with the planting and hedging for example. We can be flexible and are happy to discuss this with you.

Do you carry out garden maintenance?2023-08-09T11:36:44+01:00

Yes we have a small team who offer garden maintenance. We do usually offer this to our landscaping clients and to other clients who want a high quality service and fit within one of our service areas. Do contact us to check on our current availability.

Do I need planning permission for landscape work?2023-08-09T11:26:58+01:00

Sometimes! Garden buildings and pools may require planning permission, and some more significant changes to ground levels, depending on the area and your site specific planning restrictions.  Conservation areas may have specific restrictions, and most boundary treatments need to be dealt with care if over 2m tall. Tree works may require permission from the tree officers if they are protected too.

What is the best time of year to landscape a garden?2023-08-09T11:25:40+01:00

The short answer is that we can (and do) work at almost any time. Different projects and sites will have different constraints. Autumn and early winter are usually best for large scale planting supply, but it can be slow and muddy if the ground is waterlogged so there are pros and cons of any season. We can discuss with you when planning the build.

What are my options if I can’t afford to have my entire garden rebuilt all at once?2023-08-09T11:25:03+01:00

Once you have a detailed garden design in place it is simple to break this down into stages that will allow you to do the work in chunks. With smaller spaces and tighter access this is less practical than in big gardens where whole areas can be left until the next phase, but there is almost always a way to break up the costs.

What will my garden cost to complete?2023-08-09T11:24:18+01:00

Until you have a design in place that is impossible to answer – square meterage rates can be applied to a plot, but given the variations in cost between different treatments (say lawn versus paving) any estimates in the absence of a design will be utterly pointless. Having seen the site and taken a brief we may be able to give you an order of magnitude. See our blog on this subject here

Do I need a garden designer and a landscaper?2024-05-01T15:30:10+01:00

Usually yes – some companies such as ourselves can offer both, but while the skills overlap, they are very different specialities. In most cases you don’t want your bricklayer (however talented!) to be making final decisions as to how to finish the edges of your steps or patio, nor do you want your garden designer to make the final decisions as to how to build your retaining walls.

We have more advice HERE on choosing your garden designer

Is my garden too small for a design?2024-04-26T12:24:39+01:00

Even a small garden will benefit from good design, and in fact smaller gardens are often the ones that need it most as you are often trying to fit a lot into a small space which can be a challenge and takes skill and practice. Sometimes it simply isn’t possible to do everything you want in the space, but having a really good designer on board will help you to make the decisions you need to make as to the priorities and how it will all look once done.

How long will it take to design?2023-07-25T11:38:20+01:00

Most design processes can be tailored to the pace of the client- each review stage usually needs 2-3 weeks for us to do the required work in between, and depending on your availability and clarity of feedback, that means most take at least 6-8 weeks. This can be compressed if there is a specific deadline or it is a simpler project, and some are considerably extended (usually when working on a major new build alongside the architects and team).

What will my design cost?2023-07-25T11:38:28+01:00

Professional design typically starts at around £5,000 for a smaller plot. This includes full 3D cad design, around 3 rounds of design development, and leads to a completed pack suitable for construction costing, with general arrangement plans, set out plans and detailed materials and planting schedules, lighting and irrigation designs.

Larger and more complex gardens, particularly those working around new builds obviously need a great deal more detailing and input and need to be priced specifically to ensure we capture all the work you want (but no more!)

If you have other questions feel free to contact us.

Go to Top