Don’t hire a garden designer unless they have the right skills…

Yorkshire Garden

But what actually is a Garden Designer?

I was at a British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) dinner last night and the after-dinner speaker was Adam Frost, the new co-presenter on the TV programme Gardeners’ World, along with Monty Don (on Fridays at 8.30pm, BBC2). Adam is a long-time garden designer and landscape contractor and it was very refreshing to listen to some of the trials and tribulations he’s had to face in his career, to find that I too, and many of my colleagues, have faced many of the same issues. And one of the biggest bug-bears we’ve all encountered, including Adam, is the reaction of…

“Oh, you’re just a gardener, then?”

The ignorance and dismissive tone that often accompanies this particular phrase is difficult to bear.

It’s a bit like calling Jessica Ennis-Hill  ‘just a runner’ or Andy Murray ‘just a tennis player’. I’m not putting myself or the garden design profession in the same category as those two fantastic athletes but the gulf between the perception and the reality is much the same.

So what does ‘good’ entail?

To do the job well and legally, a garden designer has to have a good knowledge of planning regulations, drainage issues, Health and Safety, water regulations, hard landscaping materials, construction techniques, plants, horticulture in general, planting techniques, pests and diseases, safe application of chemicals, soil amelioration, evironmental issues, Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS), sustainability in general, conservation issues, local wildlife, habitat creation for wildlife, garden design history, garden lighting, flooding implications, weather implications, fish, EU regulations relating to plants, chemicals, pests/diseases, new products on the market, those that have been withdrawn and a lot more.

Unexpected but essential garden design skills every designer should have.

They should also have experience of the requirements and implications of children, wheel-chair users, those with walking difficulties and groups. Not to mention the implications of and accommodation of such legal designations such as Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas, National Parks, Areas of Archeological Importance, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Ancient Scheduled Monuments, to name but a few.

And, this is what ‘excellent’ means.

To do the job excellently, a garden designer will also have good people skills, business and organisational skills.

Most skilled garden designers are also members of professional organisations such as BALI and the Society of Garden Designers.  Membership of both organisations require a considerable degree of competance and experience to join.

Personally, I have also found marriage guidance skills, common sense, second guessing and telepathy to be vital as well!

So next time you want help with the garden, make sure the person you ask is properly qualified to do the job!

And before the gardeners amongst us get upset, I do understand what it takes for you too to do a good job as I did a year long apprenticeship in fine gardening with English Heritage at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland.  So I do know, but I also know it is a different job with a different skill set.     

Email me – I’m happy to help..

If you’d like to email me with any questions, click here and I’m very happy to help you if I can.

Have a look at our website for some ideas by clicking here.

If you’d like to chat about the garden, ring us on 01904 623 343

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