An in-depth Look at London Garden Design

London garden designer
Image courtesy of GROW London

Business website Startup.co.uk recently reported that London is the best place to set up a horticultural business. So why is this? Also, what are homeowners willing to spend their money on and what can we expect to see appearing in people’s gardens over the next 12 months? In Touch Landscapes’ latest blog, our principal designer Georgina Chahed explores London garden design in more detail and unearths the latest trends in outdoor living…

According to a report by AXA Business Insurance, the average household in the capital spends £600 a year on improving their garden and those in the North East and Scotland are also keen call in the professionals.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults reveals that London is the best place to start a gardening and landscaping business. Whilst the average Briton is prepared to stump up just £473 on garden upkeep every year – the average Londoner spends £600, with those in Scotland (£556) and North East (£514) also outspending the rest of the UK.

In contrast, those living in Wales, the South West and North West all spend below £400 – suggesting that they prefer to do the work themselves when it comes to horticulture.

Homeowners are looking for landscape experts
Despite this, 64% of those surveyed said they would a hire professional if they needed to erect a wall, with 61% saying the same if they needed to construct a deck, 58% if they needed to put in fencing, and 59% if they needed to chop down a tree.

With regards consumer price expectation, the average consumer would quote a price of £400 for common building tasks, £390 for a garden design, £378 for terracing, £290 for a pond installation and £364 for fence construction – a price that includes both materials and labour.

Gareth Howell, managing director of AXA Insurance commented: “The figures quoted by the public for common landscaping, design and gardening jobs were very low indeed, however.

“This shows a low appreciation first of the sheer number of hours that go into this work, expert knowledge of disciplines landscape architecture, design and horticulture, as well as, understanding construction, planning and site drainage standards.”

“People working in the trades have a massive education job to do when they meet clients – as we’ve emphasised, having a good portfolio of work where you can demonstrate value and results is one good step, as well as diversifying your customer base as much as possible to ensure a lower reliance on purely residential work.”

But key findings from the 2017 annual landscape trends study just released by style website Houzz says homeowners are prepared to spend much more than this on renovating their outdoor space. This report claims that only 12% of their 2,400 responses from UK homeowners using the Houzz platform indicated spending £500 or less on recent renovations, with 20% spending over £10,000.

Demand for low maintenance gardens
Unsurprisingly 94% of homeowners update their planting, citing having flowers, being low maintenance and attracting bees and butterflies as their top three reasons for making the change. Similarly, despite concerns by organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society who believe many homeowners are paving over their front gardens, real lawns are still very popular, with just 12% planning to remove their turf altogether.

Five biggest garden improvements
The study goes on to detail the top five hard landscaping improvements homeowners will be making to their gardens. These include: patio/terrace (57%), planters/containers (56%), fence/border (50%), arbour/gazebo/pergola/trellis (30%), and shed/workshop (28%). Other trends revealed by the study include the rise of the ‘outdoor living room’ and garden lighting.

Triggers for redesigning outdoor spaces comprise: wanting to personalise a new space (44%), fixing deterioration (24%), and wanting to do it all along but only just getting around to it (23%). In terms of key motivators, the challenges homeowners face this year, include: poor use of space (45%), limited space (24%) and lack of privacy (23%).

So, with Londoners spending the most on their gardens nationally and recognising the need to call in the professionals, it’s easy to see why garden design is so popular in London. In the months to come, a peek over the garden fence looks set to reveal a sparkling patio, trendy planters or an architectural outdoor structure. City folk know that clever use of outdoor space and privacy are more important than ever when space is of a premium. Therefore, the appetite for modern or classic garden design in the capital is set to grow.

Telephone Touch Landscapes on 07872 590303 or email info@touchlandscapes.com to arrange your initial garden design consultation.

June 20, 2017

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Why do I need a garden designer?

Surrey garden design

In this blog post Touch Landscapes’ owner and principal garden designer Georgina Chahed gives the lowdown on why property owners need a garden designer…

Homeowners often find their garden has been left in a mess following the completion of their fantastic new extension. Bi-folding doors have been installed but the view of the back garden doesn’t live up to expectations. They know they should do something about it, but where should they begin? Do they need a landscaper or a garden designer and how will this affect the cost?

For those who are just looking for a lawn, a shed and a patio, there is little or no point in getting a garden designer involved. If however, they want the garden to look as stunning as their new kitchen, then they need the services of a good designer.

A safe pair of hands
A professional designer will do a lot more than just measure up and produce drawings for a new garden. They will contact landscapers capable of carrying out the work and at the most competitive price. They will source materials, liaise with the landscapers, monitor the build and find the right plants. A designer will also provide a maintenance schedule to ensure the space stays looking fantastic, for longer. Crucially, a designer will also check to make sure every detail is perfect before completion.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch
Clients are surprised when they approach a landscaper who offers them a ‘free’ design service as part of their design and build package, only to discover that by employing the services of a garden designer as well, they can actually end up paying less. As I source plants from specialist wholesale nurseries at lower prices and can tender the landscaping out to several companies, I am able to offer clients a better deal overall.

Rather than giving them an off-the-peg garden, I will deliver something that’s unique to my clients’ individual requirements and personal style. As part of my service I introduce clients to the latest materials on the market and cherry pick the best high performance plants, selecting less ubiquitous varieties, setting their garden apart from their neighbours’.

The devil’s in the detail
So often I see poorly designed gardens that are unbalanced, aesthetically clumsy, or are simply not fulfilling their potential. As part of the site analysis and layout planning, I use my designers’ eye to get the project right first time and ensure all the components work together cohesively.

To find out more about our Surrey garden design and landscape design service, please telephone us on 07872 590303 or email info@touchlandscapes.com

July 27, 2015

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The Highs and Lows of the Sky Garden

London's Sky Garden
London’s Sky Garden

In Touch Landscapes’ latest blog, owner and garden designer Georgina Chahed takes a critical look at London’s newest public space

Officially opening to the public for the first time in January, I visited the Sky Garden last Monday, keen to explore the exotic planting. Located at the top of the Walkie Talkie at 20 Fenchurch Street, the Sky Garden boasts stunning 360 degree views of many of the capital’s most popular landmarks including the BT Tower, the Gherkin, the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The view is really the best thing about the Sky Garden. The press have only given lacklustre reviews of the space – disappointed that it isn’t the public park in the sky and that we’d all hoped for.

Yes, anyone can visit providing they’ve booked in advance and if you have an afternoon free and fancy a special meal in a unique location, then the Sky Garden’s Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill would certainly appeal.However, the thought of anyone taking their dog for a walk, going for a run or meeting friends for a picnic here seems absurd – even though this is the kind of normal behaviour you would expect in a public garden.

Fronds in high places
That said, organisations including landscape architects Gillespies, landscapers Willerby Landscapes, nursery Kelways and plant experts Kew have done well to meet the logistical and horticultural challenge of making this garden in the sky a reality.

The planting consists of two high banks of aeoniums, cycads, grasses, maidenhair ferns and tree ferns. There are pockets containing intimate seating areas but hopefully the plants will be allowed to fill in and bulk up over time to soften the corporate feel of the space and provide more of a feeling of enclosure.

The only way is up
In terms of endowing London with more green public spaces, the Sky Garden has turned out to be more of a sentiment than a solution. London may be geographically and metaphorically a million miles away from the acclaimed garden city of Singapore, but projects such as the Garden Bridge will do well to fuel our appetite for innovative and inclusive city gardens, offering hope for the future of urban garden planning in the UK.

Have you visited the Sky Garden yet and if so, what did you think? Please leave a comment, I’d love to know.

Touch Landscapes designs gardens with year round interest. Call 07872 590 303 or email info@touchlandscapes.com to discuss your requirements.

February 9, 2015

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