I want my garden landscaped with railway sleepers, but how do I find the best person or company?
Creating the kind of garden you want is a special undertaking and one that we hope will be exciting and inspiring and trouble free. Here are some stages you need to go through and questions you might need to ask, together with a few unbiased answers and tips about finding the right landscaper. We genuinely have no vested interest in who you choose. We don't offer landscaping services ourselves however we do supply landscapers thoughout the UK with railway sleepers. What we want is that you get the garden that you'll love, that you will use, and will thoroughly enjoy.
What should I do first before contacting someone?
Sit down and ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want out of the garden?
Is it for children to play in? To grow vegetables and flowers? Barbecues and romantic dinners? Do I enjoy gardening or do I want low maintainance? What do I want in it?
Am I looking for a radical transformation or minor change? Do I want a new lawn, play area, shed, water feature, patio, raised bed, archway, steps etc?
What do I want it to look like?
It's crucial to be clear about these questions before you get people in to do quotes. You can design your garden yourself (with the help of masses of books and TV programmes). However, if you intend a full landscaping transformation, it is well worth investing several hundred pounds in a professional independent designer who will specify sizes, materials, plants etc.. When you then ask potential landscapers to quote on this exact plan it will ensure quotations that can be compared like for like, and potentially save you hundreds of pounds.
What is my budget ?
How much can I afford, do I want to spend? Be realistic. Two people for one day may cost £300 or more. So a full landscaping job will cost many £1000's. Materials and labour don't come cheap.
How do I find someone?
Of course this question could be equally applied to finding a plumber, electrician etc...
- Firstly, and best, you can seek out word of mouth recommendations from friends, neighbours, and family. This is the best way of finding a landscaper. You'll get an unbiased opinion of their work, their honesty and reliability, their charges, and get a chance to see their finished work in the flesh.
- Secondly, you can seek recommendations from garden centres and nurseries. Ask them for practical advice, and if they've heard good reports of any particular landscapers. They may of course recommend their own people!
- Thirdly, have a look at our selection of landscapers on the website, who meet our criteria for inclusion.
- Fourthly, search online. Look at different landscaper's websites. Read reviews and ratings. You probably won't learn much from the look of the glossy website, as they are often created by a designer wanting to catch your eye, and not by the landscaper themselves. Still, it does indicate their commitment to a professional image. They may often state they are 'members' of certain bodies etc... You can take or leave this, as gospel or nonsense. We are often approached by professional bodies, who say that we can use their name as recommendation, if we pay a certain sum - with few questions asked. We'd recommend contacting a cross section of landscapers, big and small, and compare their response to you. Shortlist your favourites and invite them to meet you in person.
Is it worth getting lots of quotes?
Invite several landscapers to quote for you. Make sure that you are clear about the design or layout you want (see above, under 'what do I want it to look like') so that they can give an accurate and realistic quotation to you, that you can compare with others. Be clear about what you want and when you want it done etc.. Watch how they respond to you, and how they talk about the potential job. Are they enthusiastic? Are they professional? How do they go about working out the quotation? Have they got a tape measure!
What should I ask them ?
- Ask them about what jobs they've done. They should show you an album of recent work. Do they sound proud of their work, or excited etc..
- Ask them about where they learned to landscape, e.g. courses, training, working for other companies etc.. Are they experienced, knowledgable etc.. Do they work alone or with a team? How will they tackle your design ?
- Ask them about any particular conditions, timescale, payments etc.. What would they need from you? Is there a contract or agreement? What happens if things go wrong?
Who do I choose?
If you've shown each potential landscaper the same design and explained to each clearly what you want, it should be easier to choose between quotes. Look for how the quote is broken down, into labour and materials. Do these figures seem reasonable? Can you afford it? What is your gut feeling about them? Do you trust them? Do you like them? etc.. What will it be like having them around for a week or so? Are they professional, creative, enthusiastic? Don't choose someone you have doubts about. Remember you can always ask the landscaper for a contact number or address of a previous job, so you can see how it turned out, and ask the customer how the job went.
Could I do it myself?
Why not ? You'd save a lot of money and achieve the wonderful satisfaction of creating your own garden. There's a lot of help online, in books and on TV, and the message is often the same: 'Give it a go. You don't have to be an expert to build your own garden'. It's not rocket-science! Alternatively you could do some of it yourself. Maybe the bits that feel more straightforward or enjoyable. (Pay someone to do the back breaking bits!) Finally, if you're not able to do any of the physical bits, you could at least research and buy the materials yourself. You'll save money, because landscapers may make a profit out of the materials they charge you for. You also have more chance of ending up with the materials that you want, not to mention the fun of searching round muddy reclaimation yards and nurseries!
Do we recommend landscapers?
Although we don't approve specific landscapers, we do publish a list of landscapers who are worth considering. Of course we can't vouch for or guarantee every aspect of these landscapers, but we are confident to include them on our list of landscapers who meet our criteria for inclusion on this website:
1) We have supplied them with railway sleepers on a regular basis
2) They are experienced in working with railway sleepers
3) They have submitted railway sleeper projects for publishing on our website.
4) They genuinely appear creative, professional and certainly worth considering.
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