How much should a garden cost?

Many of us look at inspirational, beautiful designer gardens or RHS flower show gardens and hope to re-create the look in our own outside space. However many starting out to transform their gardens don’t really know how much to budget for or how to get started. Here are some common questions answered:

How much should a garden cost?

My experience is that most people underestimate what a new garden will cost. How much should your budget for? This depends on your budget and what you hope to acheive. For a great garden , it is recommended that you should estimate £100 as a minimum per square metre of garden. This may sound like a lot to invest but beautiful garden can cost as much to build as a new kitchen.

Do I need a garden designer?

If want to give your garden a completely new look, it is  worthwhile hiring an experienced, fully qualified garden designer to help. They’ll help you to make the most out of your space and budget. The cost of a designer is much smaller that the overall cost of building a new garden and is a worthwhile investment to get the most from your outside space. By hiring a garden designer who is a registered member of the Society of Garden Designers you can be confident of getting the best service and expertise.

Do I need a landscaper?

If you are doing garden construction you will need a landscaper. They will take the garden design, including elements such as garden levels, hard landscaping, power and lighting requirements, water access, planting plan and so on from the garden designer and will  complete the build work in your garden. We recommend that you hire members of the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). All members are inspected annually and must adhere to professional standards to ensure they provide you with a high standard and a professional service.

13 Replies to “How much should a garden cost?”

  1. I have been a garden designer for over 10 years and budget is a subject which has been a constant battle .

    My view of a garden designers role is to maximise the appeal and usage of the garden and create an ultimate ACHIEVABLE vision for a client.

    Implementing an entire scheme is a costly business and we should make this clear from the outset. I like to high light comparative cost of the garden against a room in the house.
    I understand that it is a lot easier to justify spending money inside than outside. This may be down to the weather in the UK and the actual percentage of time we spend in the garden but as you say a good garden really sells a property and I have personally found improves family life and well-being which you can not put a price on !

    My tips for everyone would be :

    • decide the length of time you are aiming to stay in the property

    • be realistic about cost, if budget is tight for the size of garden, remember its better to have an ultimate goal /plan than spend money without direction (it will only cost more in the end)

    • employ a Garden designer to clarify the direction and ultimate goal

    •Look around at designers and make sure you find one who VISUALISES their ideas properly and LISTENS to YOU! ( if you find out years down the line the their vision wasn’t yours then it is a waste)

    • think of a design as options and prioritise your needs

    • plan the stages wisely as the wrong order could be costly !

    • you say “but I don’t use the garden” with the right design and layout and with elements which are designed personally for you … you will use and enjoy the garden much more

    1. Thanks Marc, and what do you suggest customers budget for their garden costs? Is there a guideline price per sq meter? Perhaps it is different for different types of garden – say roof terrace, wildlife garden etc.

  2. Nicola, I think you are not far off suggesting a £100/sqm price tag for a designed garden to be built, but I would suggest that that figure does not include the design fee. Personally I think that an absolute mimimum figure of £5000 for a very simple and small garden would be hard to achieve and I certainly wouldn’t touch anything with a smaller budget. I agree that most people have no idea what budget to allocate for their ambitions and most would swallow hard when we give them a reality check.
    There is of course the client who just wants the design to be built und add up the cost later. It takes all sorts…

  3. Hi Nicola , a square metre price is too wide to calculate., Clients with a very small garden could aspire to a have garden which ultimately costs far more than a large open garden. It’s far better to look at the garden in percentage of usage and then calculate a budget. Ranges of budget rather than a single meterage cost is also preferable.

  4. Gardens are really not about money in my opinion. They are about the plants, people and wildlife that use them . You certainly do not need to spend £5,000 to achieve something original and long lasting.
    It also depends on what you inherit in your garden. Preserving as many plants as possible is always a good idea as I think gardeners should be environmentally responsible – not just dig something up because it does not “fit”. When I bought my garden 3 years ago it came with a wonderful old mulberry and medlar tree plus a range of established shrubs. Over time I have enhanced the existing garden with the addition of more seating areas as well as adding my own favourite plants for little more than £1000. What happened to good old fashioned gardening which involved using what you have? In my opinion gardens really do not have to look like an RHS show garden to be enjoyed by the residents.

  5. Hi Deborah, I completely agree with you that you should retain as much of a garden and build on it. I encourage every client to encorporate mature planting and divide herbaceous etc but some people are not lucky enough to inherit a garden with planting you can do this with ! I am not a designer who would destroy a mature scheme for the sake of it .

    People do have to spend money on their gardens as they have either no maturity or minimal planting or nowhere to sit or dine to start with. Your garden sounds lovely and you are lucky to have had a well stocked garden to start. Everybody has different aspirations for their garden and a lot don’t have the knowledge or interest todo what you have done.

    Enhancing a garden and not starting again when you don’t have to is key .

  6. Thanks very much for your reply. Love your expression about enhancing gardens which is what I was trying to say but maybe did not explain too well. Totally agree that not everyone has the knowledge or interest to do this by themselves. Luckily websites like Shoot are really helping to change this situation by their excellent database of plants and information. Designers too have an important role to play in creating beautiful gardens. Hopefully, like you, they will always incorporate existing mature plants where possible. Gardens really are such precious places that make our lives so much “richer” even if we do not have £5,000 to employ a garden designer.

  7. I think £100 per square meter is a good guide but like others have said, a small garden could cost more than a large one. Lots of mature specimen trees or lots of hard landscaping e.g. curved walls, lots of raised beds, expensive materials, etc. will send the costs up. Similarly our design fees reflect the complexity of the design.
    I also agree with whoever said a well designed garden that fits the occupants needs will be used & bring much joy. If you are engaging a designer, they need to ‘fit’ you too- choose a designer who’s design signature appeals to you & who will listen to you & deliver what you want. I agree you shouldn’t rip out a perfectly good garden but if you hate it you will never use it & better to rehome some plants than never venture into your garden to do anymore than mow the lawn. Also lets face it, many gardens- especially in new builds are awful & whilst a garden might have plants in it; unless someone knows about gardening, a lot of the time plants are in the wrong place struggling year after year & frustrating their owners!
    A redesign, a regig & refresh, a mini or major overhaul, the right plants in the right place, a well positioned dining area or arbour in a quiet reading corner, running water, scent, colour…… & a garden can be transformed into a family’s favourite room!

    Chantal x

  8. It is important for the average person to remember that a garden does not have to be ‘designed’. What is important is that people get out in their green spaces, enjoy them, and tinker around in a way that fits their budget and time scale. Not everyone has a ‘Chelsea’ budget so it is worth remembering that for most of us, a lovely garden is achieved over time, with patience, and at a cost that does not put us in a position where other essentials suffer.
    Some people have a few pots, some have the typical lawn with borders either side, some have beautiful landscaped examples. ITS ALL GOOD. Do not get too caught up in what it costs. Do what you can, when you can. In many respects, the time that can be spent in a garden is more valuable. Above all, enjoy the process.

  9. As others have said, the £100 per square metre is reasonable for the costs of planting, preparation and some very basic hard landscaping. However; I must point out that a good garden designer does not always point the client towards a full garden design. A major part of the project is to identify what the client really wants and suit it to their budget. This may mean carefully considered advice from someone with professional knowledge regarding all aspects of a garden.

    The design and construction involved creating a new or redeveloping an existing garden has been proven to enhance the value of a property. The cost should be likened to adding a new kitchen/extension, the cost should be realistically relative to the value of the property.

  10. An interesting post and reflects a couple of Tweets I made last week

    “How much would you pay for a new fitted kitchen and would you spend a similar amount on your garden?”

    and

    “For many people their garden is bigger than their living room. Get out there and use it. Make your garden part of your home.”

    I specialise in small gardens and find anything below £200/sm hard to achieve for a site around 25sm. Most smaller town/city properties are around 5m wide and with a minimum requirement of 2.5m depth in a patio but ideally more it inherently means you’re going to be hard landscaping most of the area or adding interest with raised beds. Take a longer garden behind a similar width terrace house and you probably have enough space to make a good percentage into lawn which reduces the costs per sm significantly. How those elements are laid out within the space is down to the skill of the designer but the costs remain fairly constant irrespective of the layout.

    Marc makes a good point in response to Deborah when he says ‘Everybody has different aspirations for their garden and a lot don’t have the knowledge or interest to do what you have done’

    Most clients come to me because they are not gardeners but they want to use the space they have more effectively and plants are almost certainly bottom of their list of must haves, that’s even if they have a list at all. Top priority for most is low maintenance and space for the children or the T word feared by all designers the dreaded trampoline. This further cements my theory that those who use a garden designer have little interest in the garden as a garden in its true sense. Interestly after they ask for low maintenance they ask for a space to grow veg and a compost area and point to the grotty shady area at the bottom of the garden.

  11. In Australia the common recommendation for a new landscape or major overhaul is to spend a minimum of 5% of the house value and preferably 10% for a high quality landscape, which in turn will add at least 10% to the value of your home. I’m always amazed at homeowners who will spend many thousands on the best quality kitchen fittings but then want to skimp on their hard landscape choices.
    A good designer should always do a thorough site survey and aim to retain all quality plants especially mature shrubs. Sadly many get ripped out for the sake of ‘new’ and the garden instantly loses all its structure.

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