What are the benefits of dealing with a garden designer over, let’s say, just a gardener who simply does what you tell them to do, Alexander?
Designing a nice garden is a real challenge. Imagine an artist with an enormous canvas who is then told that the colours they’re working with change throughout the year, the shapes change constantly, and some colours work well in some places but not at all in others.
Then think of all the logistical elements like delivering materials, setting up irrigation and lighting systems and so on. You quickly realise that designing or installing a garden isn’t quite as simple as you first thought. A gardener is generally very capable of planting a few plants here and there to supplement your garden but if you’re starting from scratch and looking for something nice, I would certainly recommend that you contract a designer.
What should people be aware of when they commission a garden designer?
It’s always a good idea to have a general idea of the form of the garden you’d like and what you’re willing to spend before contracting a designer. These points should be discussed in the initial meeting to make sure that everybody is on the same page.
What are the most common mistakes your potential clients make and what could be the consequences?
As a designer it’s generally my job to talk my clients out of mistakes before they happen. That said, a common topic for discussion at the start of a project will be lawns. While I certainly appreciate the value that a nice lawn can bring to a property, we must also be aware that water is becoming an ever more precious commodity and lawns are thirsty beasts. I always try and limit the square meterage of any lawn to something nice and practical but not extensive.
What is the ideal process to go through when commissioning a garden designer?
Start by checking out the designer’s portfolio and make sure you like what you see. You can often do this easily by going to their websites. The second job would be to meet up at the new garden site and make sure that there’s a good connection between the two of you.
Would you say it’s essential that the designer meets the client and sees the garden?
From a practical standpoint, I would say this is very important but also from an emotional perspective too. Garden designers are putting their heart and creative spirit into a project and it’s much more heartening if the client shows an interest in what they are doing.
How does a trustworthy garden designer charge and what’s the procedure? Half up front, for example?
I think that everybody has their own charging procedures so it’s impossible to generalise. We at Mashamba generally take on full projects that include the design and the consequent installation. How we set up the payment structure happens on a project by project basis.
I know it’s hard to say but could you give me a range of basic hourly rates?
We don’t work by hourly rate, so it’s impossible for me to say.
If I want my garden ready for summer, when should I start talking to you?
If you’re working on a specific timeline, then it’s always much better to get in touch with a designer as soon as you can. So, if you wanted a large garden done by this summer, it would have been better to have got in touch a couple of months ago. Realistically, middle to the end of May is the normal cut off time for garden works before it becomes too hot to plant, so we aim to have everything done by then. The design and consequent execution can take several months, depending on the size of project.
Could you give me a couple of examples where the whole process went very smoothly?
Funnily enough, brand new gardens that are a completely blank canvas are much easier than garden reforms. Reforms can be more complicated because clients might wish to keep some of the infrastructure and plants while replacing the rest.
Thanks, as ever, for the great advice Alexander.
If you’re planning to renovate your garden or create something entirely new, now may well be your last chance to do so before summer. Otherwise, you’re better off starting to plan now for a garden project beginning this coming autumn.
Should you want your terrace and outdoor living areas ready for summer, now is definitely the time to get in touch with Mashamba. Plant pots and furnishings can take several weeks to arrive in Mallorca.