When engaging a garden designer the first thing you need to consider is the brief, that is, a list of your wishes and requirements for your garden. The designer will use this information to inform the design process and come up with appropriate solutions, so spending time thinking about this from the outset will be time well spent. During the initial consultation, the designer will be able to steer the discussion to ensure all aspects of the garden are considered, so don’t worry if you don’t feel confident compiling a brief beforehand.
- A good starting point is to flick through books and magazines and tag images of gardens, features or plants that particularly appeal to you.
- Spend some time in your existing garden thinking about any aspects or elements that you particularly like or dislike. For example, are there any eyesores or neighbouring properties that need screening.
- Think about how you would like to use the garden – for entertaining, sun-bathing, children’s play, encouraging wildlife, growing your own food, etc.
- Consider how you want the garden to feel – wild and romantic or more formal and structured. Is there a particular style that best describes the character you desire – cottage garden, Mediterranean, urban chic, minimal, classical, exotic, Japanese, etc.?
How keen a gardener are you and how much time will you want to spend maintaining your garden (or paying someone else to)?
- Are there any specific functional requirements to consider such as storage space or an area for wheelie bins?
- How much do you want the garden to embrace issues of sustainability, such as composting and re-using all green waste on site, harvesting rainwater to irrigate the garden, planting to encourage greater biodiversity, adhering to organic gardening practices, etc.?
- Would you like to incorporate water into the garden and, if so, for what purpose, to create a cooling tranquil effect or to encourage wildlife such as frogs and newts?
- Would you like any ambient lighting to allow viewing and use of the garden at night?
- In terms of planting do you want lots of seasonal flower colour or more foliage planting? Are there any plants of particular significance to you that you would like included?
- Finally, think about what budget you are prepared to spend on the garden. You may not feel comfortable discussing this, but it is extremely helpful for the designer to know this from the outset, to ensure your expectations are realistic and to avoid wasting anyone’s time.
The initial consultation and discussion of the brief should be an exciting and enjoyable process, the starting point of a journey towards realising a new outdoor sanctuary that will improve your quality of life for years to come.