How much does a garden designer cost? The price of plants, planning, and more

You're after an outdoor refresh. But how much does a garden designer cost? We've got the lowdown on what to expect and how much to budget

how much does a garden designer cost: patio and seating Helen Elks-Smith
(Image credit: Helen Elks-Smith)

You're ready for an outdoor update, but how much does a garden designer cost? It's one of the big first questions for anyone looking for a proper backyard makeover.

With consultations, surveying and concepts to factor in, plus the all-important planting (and any landscaping, too), professional garden design is no simple task. But, don't be put off, as calling in the experts will elevate your garden design ideas in ways you could never have imagined. 

Plus, a professional will have the skills and knowledge to create an outdoor space that's truly tailored to what you really want – whether that's a multi-functional outdoor seating area, a bloom-filled border, or a series of garden 'rooms'.

It's tricky to put a number on the price of garden design – every designer is different, as is every garden. But, with some help from the experts at the Society of Garden Designers, we've pulled together all you need to know.

How much does a garden designer cost? A guide on what to expect

If you're wondering how much does a garden designer cost, you've definitely come to the right place. You'll find plenty of advice on what to expect, what to budget, and why a garden designer can add value to your plot in more ways than one below.

How much should I budget for a garden designer?

how much does a garden designer cost?: helen elks-smith garden design

Clipped hedges, pleasing curves and structural alliums steal the show in this garden, designed by Elks-Smith Garden Design

(Image credit: Helen Elks-Smith)

It's tricky to estimate a price without a garden to pin it on. But, if you're after a very rough, ballpark figure, then the following should help:

  • Start at £1,000 for straight-forward projects on small plots.
  • If you’re going for a proper overhaul, then look to up your budget. 'In general, new garden designs cost more than £10,000 for a smaller garden,' says the team at Getagardener.co.uk.
  •  'For a more spacious one, you could be looking at between £15,000 and £25,000.'
  •  'From there, it goes upwards the more features and hard landscaping you add on.'

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the cost of garden design. This is because every job will vary hugely from the next. Personal style and requirements are contributing factors – for instance, perhaps you are after a beautiful plot that's full of low maintenance garden ideas. The size of your space, the plants and materials you choose, the available access and the amount of labor involved are also important points to consider.

'A good designer should provide a written estimate of the total design costs and explain what the project and payment stages are,' says the Society of Garden Designers. 

'It's essential to agree fees and expenses in advance of any work,' they add. 'Be prepared to be asked for a percentage of the payment, as a deposit, before the design is completed. Good design need not always be expensive. Sometimes all you need is a simple few tweaks to transform your garden.'

So, if you're after an estimate of price, start with an idea. What would you like doing, and when? How much are you willing to spend? What features do you like, or dislike? Then, get online and have a look at garden designers and their past projects, to find those who design in a style that you like. When you've found a few, get in touch.

What's next? Often, each garden designer will work in a different way. 'Most will offer a wide range of services from a consultation or simple planting plan to a full design and build service. In some cases, the designer may also provide ongoing maintenance,' says the Society of Garden Designers. 

'To begin with, they will arrange an initial visit to your garden, to show you their portfolio and discuss your needs.' Their helpful video explains the process further.

Does a garden designer add value?

how much does a garden designer cost?: Helen Elks-Smith seaside garden design

A stunning waterside seating area in a garden by Elks-Smith Garden Design

(Image credit: Helen Elks-Smith)

If you're wondering whether a garden designer adds value, the the short answer is yes – lots! A survey by The Society of Garden Designers and Zoopla has the facts to back it up. Half of its respondents thought a well-designed garden is as important (or in some cases, even more important) than a well-designed kitchen or bathroom. And that's just for starters...

'The research also found that around three quarters (74%) of homeowners either already have or would consider spending money on their garden to increase the value of their property,' the Society of Garden Designers continue. 'On average, Brits would be willing to spend an extra £14,448 to purchase a home with a garden. 

Therefore, sellers and landlords are right not to overlook the condition of outside space when marketing their home to buyers and renters.’

Laura Howard, spokesperson for Zoopla, says, '...the requirement for a garden is steadfast. A whopping 86% of both renters and homeowners in our survey consider outside space to be very or extremely important.'

So which outdoor features are most valued? Well, it turns out that a relaxing place to sit comes out tops, followed by maximum exposure to sunlight. Our outdoor seating ideas and pergola ideas features will provide you with inspiration. Somewhere for the kids to play comes a close third.

How much does a garden designer cost? A breakdown...

how much does a garden designer cost?: Oliver Bond - Bond Landscape

This garden designed by Bond Landscape Design features a circular patio surrounded by blooms

(Image credit: Oliver Bond)

Remember that prices will vary on a huge number of things. But, it's nice to have an idea of how costs can be divided, at least as a starting point of what to expect. 

Planning and design stage

The initial part of the process is a very important one. Costs for this stage range from £500 to £2,000 and above, depending on the complexity and the designer. Some designers price the design process as a percentage of the overall job – generally between 10-15%.

Landscaping and structures 

Landscaping ideas can include pond building, walls, patios, decking, pergola building, lighting, even turf. The list is practically endless, so price-wise, it all depends. A garden designer will often employ contractors for these types of jobs (electricians, landscapers, plumbers, builders, etc.,) and their costs will also be factored into the final bill. Expect between £5,000 to £30,000 plus, depending on your plot and project size. 

If you're interested in landscaping rather than hiring a garden designer, then check out our advice on how much landscaping costs

Plants and other materials

Your new garden will probably need plants, and quite a few at that. Costs for these depend on variety and how many, and will all be a contributing factor to the overall price. Materials for landscaping will factor in too, although both of these can factor into the landscaping costs (see above).

You'll find more ideas for planting in our guide to garden borders

Garden condition

If your garden is full of overgrown hedges, your lawn is full of bricks and you haven’t been able to access that back corner behind the brambles in over a decade, then expect to pay more. It'll all add time and hard work to get it to a clean, workable state – and that's before the actual build begins. 

Available access

Is your garden at the bottom of a long, windy path with twenty-odd steps? Or perhaps can only be accessed through a hallway, with pristine white carpets? Then you may see an extra cost to your bill, as tricky access makes the job take longer to implement.

Clearance

A new garden often results in rubble and unwanted plants (those brambles we mentioned earlier, for example). In most cases a skip will be needed to clear it away, which can cost between £100 to £300 plus. 

How can I reduce the cost of garden design?

outdoor seating by pond with lighting from lights4fun

Curved decking provides a cool place to relax

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

As we've seen, a garden designer is a worthwhile investment. But, it's always nice to avoid unnecessary spending and make your money go further, especially if you're a fan of cheap garden ideas.

1. Be clear on the costs

'Charges and payment schedules will vary from designer to designer, so make sure you fully understand the cost implications, what you are getting for your money and when you will be invoiced,' advises the Society of Garden Designers. 

Agree on the fee and any other expenses at the start, to avoid any costly surprises down the line.

2. Make sure the vision is shared

'Good communication is essential, both for the initial exchange of ideas, through the design process and throughout the build. This will ensure that the final result is the one you had hoped for,' says the Society of Garden Designers. 

Take the time to decide what it is you're after – think garden color schemes, plants, textures and practicalities. You can even create a mood board of ideas or favorite gardens that inspire you. Although a good garden designer should be able to interpret your vision, they're not mind readers! 

Keeping on the same page will avoid any unwanted features appearing and the incurring cost to fix them. In other words, help your designer get it right first time.

3. Know your budget

wisteria arch over path

A striking wisteria arch may cost more than you think

(Image credit: Carlita Benazito/Unsplash)

Although it can be tempting to pluck a figure out of the air, give your budget thought. Overestimating can put you in a sticky situation, or at the very least, leave you feeling disappointed when the initial designs have to be reworked. 

'A designer will produce tailor-made designs to match your budget,' says the Society of Garden Designers, 'so be clear about what you can afford at the start.'

4. Stagger the stages

Okay, so your plot and plans are on the large side. A serious splurge is on the cards, and you're feeling a little apprehensive. 

Don't panic. Instead, talk to your designer about staggering the process – building in stages will help to spread the costs, making it more affordable

5. Source your own plants

colorful tulips

Every garden needs its fair share of plants

(Image credit: Krystina Rogers/Unsplash)

Garden designers are incredibly knowledgeable about plants, and will be able to pick not only the most suitable varieties for your style, but also those that are most likely to survive in your garden's natural environment. 

If you're tightening the purse strings, then it's worth seeing if your designer will draw you up a planting scheme only. You can then purchase and install it yourself. You'll likely save on labor costs, and if you find a local nursery that will let you buy at wholesale price, you could make a saving there, too. Our best budget plants guide is also worth a look, as it's full of gorgeous varieties.

Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion. But, she loves all things digital too. She joined the team at Gardeningetc after working as a freelance content creator for a web agency, whilst studying for her M.Sc. in Marketing. Now she feels lucky enough to combine both digital and botanical worlds, every day!