Sam McGowan works in one of three ways as a garden designer:
As an hourly-paid consultant. Usually the system used
when a client wishes mainly help and advice with the design of their garden but requires few or no drawings or
other contract documents. Normally, a short-term arrangement.
On a retainer basis. A method often employed when a
client wishes to carry out some or all of the work themselves and wishes the
designer to be available to give help and advice with the design, construction
and planting of their garden over a period of time.
Normally, an agreement will be made as to the amount of work to be provided and
as to the timing and amounts of periodic fee charges. Design and drawings
may be included or charged as separate items.
On a project basis.
The commonest method of working as a garden designer,where a client wishes a design to be provided
and then achieved by bringing in one or more contractors to carry out the work,
usually with the designer acting as client's representative and monitoring the
work. Fees are charged either on a monthly basis or on completion of discrete
sections of work. Below is the structure of a typical project with the timing of
fee charges indicated. (Click here to see details of a
project in progress.) Generally, fees are estimated and agreed in advance of
each section of work being carried out.
1. Initial visit
This involves a preliminary inspection of the site and a meeting with the client
to take a brief and to establish the working relationship which is necessary to
take the project forward. The meeting will include a fuller explanation of the
garden design process, including the presentation of a portfolio of past work. A short
report will be prepared on this meeting which will include a fee estimate for a
sketch design. No work will be carried out until this estimate has been
accepted. A fee will be charged for this visit to cover expenses.
2. Sketch design
This may include carrying out a full survey if the site is too complex to do
this at the initial visit. Drawing(s) (Click here
view a selection of drawings) will be prepared to illustrate the initial
design ideas. This is intended as a discussion document. Fee will be charged on
3. Outline design or Masterplan
This is based on the sketch design, refined and amended in the light of
discussions with the client. Fee charged on acceptance by the client.
4. Hard landscape drawings and documents
Preparation of construction drawings and contract documents including
specifications and the choosing of appropriate contractors. Fee charged on issue
to contractors. (Click here
to see a selection of landscape details under construction).
5. Monitoring of hard landscape contract
Visiting the site to ensure work is carried out to specification, to approve
materials and to solve problems that might arise during the contract. Fee
charged per visit, either on completion of contract work or on a monthly basis
for larger contracts.
6. Planting plans and documents
As 4 but for planting. On smaller projects, the hard landscape and the planting
may be carried out by the same contractor as one contract and the design work
bundled together (Click
here to see further information on planting design).
7. Monitoring of planting contract
Visits to ensure that no problems arise and that the client knows how to carry
out maintenance. Can involve finding contractors to carry out maintenance etc.
and even the preparation of a landscape management plan.
On larger projects which are broken into several phases of work, items 4 to 7
can be repeated several times, once for each phase.