You know the saying: “how long is a piece of string?”. And so it is with building a patio or deck or indeed any type of landscaping in your garden. It all depends on what you want done, what materials you want used, how well you want it constructed, how accessible is the site, how big is the garden – you get the drift!
Just take a look at the photo above. It’s a small back garden but even so there are lots of elements to consider and it isn’t possible to take a look at the picture and price the job. It all depends on a lot of things. For example, what is the pathway made of – is it block paving? If so what sort? How is the wall at the end constructed? And the steps – what are they made of? What about the woodwork and the fence – is it cheap wood or quality wood and has it been treated? And the railing on the steps – is it metal or composite? Did it need painting?
So you can begin to see that it’s not as simple as stating what you want and the size of your garden – there’s a lot more that goes into drawing up a quote than is apparent at first sight. And that’s why it’s not possible to give prices that have any meaning on a website. We could say “from £1,000 to £10,000” for example and be talking about the same work on the same plot. But the difference could lie in the materials that are used.
The only way to get a proper quote is to get an experienced garden landscaper or deck builder around to take a look and give you a proper considered quote. It’s not a five-minute job because the landscaper will want to know exactly what you want built and what materials you want to use. On top of that they will consider the access and whether they can get appropriate machinery on to the site or whether some of it needs to be done by hand. They’ll ask all sorts of questions to determine your expectations and sometimes your budget may not be sufficient to get exactly what you’d like, so compromises have to be made.
Sort this all out before work starts and have a clear vision of what you want. Visit builders’ yards to look at slabs or bricks and timber yards to choose the type of fencing and gates you want. If you leave it to the builder you may be disappointed if their idea of a finished patio is different to your own!
The key is research. Landscape gardening is a costly investment so be sure you and your landscaper are on the same wavelength before work begins.
There's no doubt that trees can make a whole lot of difference to a garden and give it a comforting and mature feel. And there are plenty of trees to choose from, ranging from trees that mature to magnificent specimens like oak and ash, to conifers that grow stately or sometimes unwieldy to exotic species like palms that happily grow in the more temperate parts of Sussex, towards the coast.
Like everything else in the garden, it's important to plan ahead - and even more so when you're planting trees that could be around for a very long time. Take into account how close to the house you're planting and whether the tree has intrusive roots, like a willow or more contained ball-like roots, which may not cause so much damage but might mean the tree is less stable in a windy situation.
Landscaping a garden has a lot of elements and trees can form a wonderful backdrop, whether you're planting a solid evergreen hedge to show off a feature or choosing a sculptural tree that is a feature in itself. Select the type of tree you want and incorporate it into your garden plan before buying anything. It's easy to get carried away at the garden centre if you don't know exactly what you need.
If in doubt, consult an experienced landscape gardener for help and advice.
Who doesn't love block paving? Remember the days when state-of-the art was coloured tarmac? There's still a place for tarmac, don't get me wrong, but block paving does so much more for a property.
Block paving is so hardwearing and durable and it looks tremendous. There's an opportunity to incorpate all types of patterns, or just keep it simple. Either way it will enhance your driveway or patio and be around for many years to come.
Check out our page on block paving here
Be sure to get an expert to lay the paving, because it's easy enough to get a good finish when the job is just done, but a few years later sagging can appear if the base wasn't properly constructed. Not only should it look great when it's first laid, but your surface should continue to look that way.
Your block paving area will be easy to look after and will probably need nothing in the way of care in the first year years. After that it may take a little maintenance in the form of weed spraying once or twice a year, but if you keep that under control there's little else to do. If the surface gets dirty eventually, you can have it professionally cleaned or use a power washer. If your blocks have been laid with sand between, you may need to replace the sand by sprinkling into the cracks because the high pressure will remove everything, but you'll be rewarded with block paving that looks as good as new and resists weeds again for the next few years.
Everything in the home and garden requires some sort of maintenance or replacement, but in my opinion block paving is about as good as it gets and provides a practical and good-looking surface that is sure to enhance the value of your property.
Today there is a huge choice when it comes to patio furniture. You can choose anything from wood, composite, plastic or aluminium, to name but a few.
Like everything else in planning your garden and terracing, the first thing to do is consider what you want to do on your patio. Would you like to use it primarily for relaxing with a coffee and slice of cake, or would you prefer to have a barbecue area with a dining table where family and friends can gather to eat?
If you're lucky you may have enough room for both, but many of us need to make a decision and buy furniture accordingly.
If you have a small corner you might like to consider a bistro set. These are usually small round tables with a couple of chairs that will tuck away and are perfect for sharing a cup of tea. Often they are made of ornamental metalwork and provide a convenient place to sit and enjoy a nice day.
It's quite fashionable to have informal sofas and chairs with matching low-level coffee tables. These can be extremely comfortable and encourage garden lounging. But they can take a lot of space so be sure to measure before ordering as furniture always looks smaller when shown off in a large showroom.
For those who love to barbecue, it may be more convenient to have a full table and chairs. They are available from 4 seaters to huge, seating 10 or more. You can choose rectangular or round shapes to complement the setting and to accommodate your entertainment style. Some larger round tables now come with inbuilt fire pits, which can add a lot of fun to any event.
Check back to see our next blog post where we discuss the best materials for your outdoor furniture.
Landscape gardening is just a part of overall good garden design. It refers to the infrastructure of the plot, whether that be border fences, rock gardens, dividing walls, paths arbors or any other "hard" features.
Whoever designs your garden should take into account any natural features and the aspects and topography of the land. Are there sloping areas or a stream or existing ponds for example? What are the existing boundaries? Where are the cold and hot spots? What established or treasured trees and shrubs exist? What thrives naturally in the environment? Where is the garden located - near the sea, in the country, surrounded by woodland?
These are just a few of the things to be considered before you even start to design your perfect garden. Of course you also have to establish a clear picture of what you want to achieve. Do you like formality and straight lines or are you looking for something more wild and natural looking? Do you want to fit in with neighbours or rebel and live with something less traditional? What colours do you love and what kind of planting appeals?
In this blog we'll be looking at some of these things in depth to help you decide how to structure and plan your garden to incorporate all the things you love, whilst working with the landscape to make your job as easy as possible.
We love to add patios and decking to give you beautiful areas to sit and relax or to party! Perhaps you want a cosy corner for peace and quiet or you might prefer a fully kitted barbecue area to encourage friends to come around.
Whatever design appeals to you, it will inevitably be enhanced by judicious landscaping, adding features, partitions, walls, fencing to give a structure to the layout and bring different aspects to your garden.
Check back for lots of ideas and tips for landscape gardeners