“Why is landscaping so expensive?”

When considering how much things will cost when getting a quote for a landscaping or in fact any kind of construction work, it is all too easy to only consider the costs of the finished surfaces or items you see.

Most people will only consider they are getting a quote to cover the new paving and walling, or the lovely trees and water features that will transform their outside space into the dreamed of scenic retreat.

But the choice of finished materials and the work to create the garden are not the only factors in driving up costs, so I thought I would discuss some of the less obvious expenses in any building works and why they are necessary.

Firstly comes waste, this can cost a lot more than people realise. Using a licensed waste carrier is a must to make sure it is handled properly and of course with regulation comes higher charges. From a man and van to skips and grab lorries a waste licence is a must.

Ok so that was kind of an obvious cost when you think about it so let us delve a bit deeper.

Machinery is a good one, not just the diggers and dumpers but the fuel to run them too. On a large project this can add up to significant sums.

Again, still a fairly apparent expense when you think about it.

Welfare is next and I would say we are onto our first unseen and often unwelcome expense. This will include some or all of the following; toilets, a canteen and drying room are considered basic needs on a building site. On a large enough project you could easily add a site office. All these come at a cost including delivery and connection to services.

And now we come to often the most contentious unthought of cost of all and it is Health and Safety.

The laws governing the HSE requirements have already added to the items listed. Machinery and equipment must be used by trained operatives and daily inspections have to be carried out on all plant, the toilets must be cleaned regularly and be plentiful enough to cater for the amount of operatives on a site. The common portaloo that you see on a lot of sites are only suitable for 5 people each. The canteen must be heated with hot and cold running water and enough space for everyone to sit and eat their lunch. I already mentioned the waste carriers are regulated, but a good rule of thumb is if they are cheap then your rubbish will most likely end up dumped in a country lane somewhere.

Another important requirement under the HSE rules are to have provided Risk Assessments and Method Statements (RAMS) covering all aspects of the work to be carried out. These will lay out the safe method of performing the tasks at hand and will be the first thing inspected in the case of a serious accident.

As you can imagine all the above drives up the cost of carrying out the work required. Can you do it without worrying about this? Of course you can, not everyone will follow the rules and a lot of people are happy to ignore health and safety altogether as it is a pain.

The question I would ask myself is if people are willing to cut corners here, they will probably cut corners in other areas so for me it is a litmus test for the integrity of the contractor.

CGLA are an award winning team of Garden Designers, Landscape Architects, Landscapers and Garden Maintenance Operatives working in Buckinghamshire, London and the South East, as well as on prestigious design projects across the UK and abroad. We are currently working in Oman, Jersey and France, and welcome enquires for design, landscaping or garden maintenance. Contact us here