So you've finally got your garden design!

Now comes the really tricky part: getting it built!
Let’s look at the two main ways that you can go about this and some of the advantages and pitfalls of each:
Do it Yourself
The main advantage here is that (providing you have some technical expertise and muscle power!) there will be a great sense of achievement, a feeling that the garden is very much 'yours'.
Of course it may be cheaper, that is as long as you have a good ability to interpret the design properly and avoid making the many mistakes that even experienced landscapers make.
Most landscape schemes are very multidisciplinary, and you would have to be the proverbial 'jack of all trades' to do everything, but using skilled sub-contractors for say brickwork may work well.
You would also need to be aware of health and safety requirements, particularly with regard to hiring in diggers and all things electrical.

Using a Landscaper
Perhaps the obvious choice. Make sure you use a reputable contractor, preferably one who has been recommended. A list can be obtained from BALI (The British Association of Landscape Industries). It’s always a good idea to get competitive quotations from up to three different firms, your designer should be able to prepared tender documents (There would normally be a charge for this).
Be aware that using a contractor your designer recommends is OK, but there maybe some financial arrangement between them. (The designer getting a 'sales commission' that is.) This may be seen as a controversial arrangement, however if the various parties tell the client about this, it is often seen as 'above board' otherwise it maybe seen as non-competitive.
Be aware that cheapest is not necessarily best. A few years ago, when times were hard (wait a minute times are hard now!) I remember quoting to build a medium sized garden (£10,000 I recall), I had gone in very competitively since it was January, I had not much else on. Two weeks later I was informed that a competitor had been awarded the contract for around £5,000. Given that I had worked out that materials were £5,500 (trade price) I was a bit mystified. Some weeks later I had a phone call from the tearful wife saying the landscaper had been desperate for that deposit cheque and had gone in at under cost price just to keep himself afloat and soon abandoned the garden.
Also with landscapers make sure that they have proper terms and conditions, proper, well laid out terms of payment, public liability insurance and written guarantees.
To put the landscapers side for a moment it would be most unfair to expect them to do things not in the contract. Time and time again, I get client’s saying (usually on the first day) "Oh while you're here could you just……..prune that tree". It  can be really unfair, especially as you are trying to create a good atmosphere within your working relationship.
The most common 'extra' to emerge usually quite early on in the contract is to do with a badly drained or waterlogged site. When I first started in business over 20 years ago I was struggling to landscape a really wet garden, using a lot of my own money to put in land drains. I then realised that another landscape firm were doing a similar garden next door. After two days I saw them packing up "What’s up?" I asked "Well" replied the boss, "that garden is too waterlogged to landscape. I asked my clients before I started to get it sorted and so I am pulling off until they do so!" My lesson was learned.
I hope this helps. Happy landscaping!


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