How much does a garden designer cost? Here's what to expect

We break down the cost of getting a garden designer, and evaluate whether it's worth it

back garden with decked area, paving and planting and grey outdoor chairs
(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Annaick Guitteny)

If you're longing for a garden makeover but feel slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of undertaking the project yourself, you can hire a garden designer to take care of everything for you. But there's no denying that the luxury of sitting back and watching your dream garden being created comes at a price. The question is, how much does a garden designer cost exactly? 

A good garden designer will combine vision and discipline to bring to fruition a complete garden transformation. They'll elevate any garden ideas to a whole new level, and be at the forefront of every step of the way, from sourcing materials, to liaising with contractors, to selecting the best plants.

'A designer will create a garden that will add value both to your property and your lifestyle,' says award-winning garden designer Martyn Wilson. 'Designers are professionally trained in plant knowledge, health and safety practices, design techniques, soil structure and types, environment and wildlife requirements, and the latest landscaping materials and technology.'

The expertise of a garden designer could be well worth the cash if you're looking to get a new garden but don't want the hassle of planning it yourself. But it's important that you learn how much a garden designer costs before you take the plunge and hire one, so you can avoid overpaying and wasting your hard-earned money. 

How much does a garden designer cost? 

large house and garden with pathway, hedges and oudoor seating area

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Polly Eltes)

So if you want your new garden to be designed by a professional but you're stuck wondering how much does a garden designer cost, you've come to the right place. We've asked the experts to clarify what exactly a garden designer will do for you, and how much they'll charge for it.

What does a garden designer do?

A garden designer will pull together all your ideas, from the latest garden trends to your favourite plants, and help you source everything you need to complete the look you want, including helping you to choose the best garden furniture for your scheme.

'Designers will oversee the project from concept to completion, removing the stresses of the build from the client,' says garden designer James Beadnall, Owner, James Beadnall Garden Design. 'They come up with functional and aesthetically-beautiful solutions for the space before creating masterplans and construction details for landscapers to work from. 

'If you want them to, they will source materials, landscape teams, and plants, and also manage the build. They will also carry out regular site visits to make sure everything is going to plan.'

rattan outdoor furniture on rug surrounded by plants

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Dominic Blackmore)

Basically a garden designer can be as involved as you wish in the project from start to finish. Whether you want them to take care of the nitty gritty of planning a small garden or selecting your materials and plants, it's up to you how much design control you give them. Working with a garden designer is a collaborative process, and you can always have the final say in decisions. 

How much does a garden designer cost?

In the UK, the average cost paid for a garden design is £1,950, according to Fiona Jenkins, Garden Expert, MyJobQuote. The price range, however, is wide. To hire a garden designer to plan out, in detail, a new or renovated garden could cost anywhere between £600 to £4,500.

This will vary around the country; generally speaking, it’s more expensive to hire a garden designer in London and the South East than in the North of England, Scotland, or Wales.

To break down how much does a garden designer cost, gardening expert Fiona gives the following rough figures as a guideline of what to expect for each element of a garden design package:

  • Garden design costs per square metre - £30 - £150 per square metre
  • Installing a garden wall - £600 - £1500
  • Installing garden fencing - £500 - £1000
  • Laying a patio - £1000 - £1750
  • Painting a garden wall - £200 - £300
  • Installing garden decking - £1200 - £3700
  • Installing garden turf - £500 - £1300
  • Cost to hire a gardener - £14 - £30 per hour

patio area with wooden pergola and seating

(Image credit: Jacksons Fencing)

Bear in mind that designers tend to calculate their fees in two very different ways; either as a percentage, typically between eight percent and 20 percent of the overall expected budget for the garden, or base their fees on an hourly rate. 

According to MyJobQuote, garden designers will charge between £60 to £200 an hour. Most people with more modest gardens tend to favour the hourly rate option, professionals say, so they can keep a close eye on how much their garden design will cost.

'Some designers charge a fixed fee, whilst others might charge a daily rate, or work on a percentage fee basis,' explains garden designer Martyn Wilson. Martyn, like a lot of designers, charges a percentage of the overall budget, with a design service starting at £2.5k. As an example, this package includes:

  • Initial site visit, concept plan, mood boards, full proposal and a visual of the garden
  • Detailed master plan as well as a setting out plan with full measurements of the space, plus planting plans
  • Working up a detailed construction drawing, preparing a tender package and liaising with required contractors, and agreeing the final fees for the project with the client
  • Designers may then offer an administration service to act as a liaison between client and contractors with regular scheduled meetings.

To understand how much does a garden designer cost further, it's helpful to break down the garden design project into its separate elements, so you can understand where your money is going.

Planning and design stage

'Budget on an approximate cost of £30 to £150 per sqm for the whole design to be put into practice, from design to execution,' says Fiona. If you’re looking for easy garden ideas your design will potentially cost less, as there will be fewer features. 

For example, creating and finishing a 10sqm garden should cost between £3,000 and £15,000, but this price could double if you wanted to spend on high-quality planting, premium landscaping materials such as limestone or York stone, and expensive features such as outdoor kitchens.

grey outdoor sofa with yellow cushions

(Image credit: Bond Landscape Design Limited)

Landscaping and structures

When your garden design is completed, you will need to consider garden landscaping costs in detail. If you’re concerned about how much your garden design will cost, this is where you can make savings, by working with your designer and contractor/s to find the best value for money materials. 

These might include timber and stone, and structures such as fences and pergolas, substituting expensive for economical options if necessary. You will also need to add in labour costs; experienced landscapers typically charge about £150 to £200 per day, according to MyJobQuote. 

Available access

There may be additional costs to pay if your garden is tricky to access; for example, if items such as furniture and fencing have to be craned into place rather than carried down a path. The extra time it takes and the hire of any equipment will need to be taken into account.

Waste disposal

Most contractors will dispose of debris in the most economical and environmentally-friendly way possible. However, if there is a lot of waste to remove, skips will be needed. Hire prices vary around the UK, but MyJobQuote suggests for example, that a two to three-yard ‘mini skip’ which will take approximately 30 bin bags, costs between £60-£130 for a week’s hire.

lawn with steps and wooden pergola

(Image credit: Jacksons Fencing)

Is garden design expensive?

It doesn’t have to be. Garden designer, vlogger and BBC1 Garden Rescue TV presenter Lee Burkhill, known as ‘Garden Ninja’, says his own garden designs start at £1,000, increasing in cost based on size and complexity: 'Once the quote has been given for the design this is then fixed, so there's no surprises. Even on the tightest budgets, professional garden design can save you bags of money and avoid many costly mistakes.'

His tip for keeping the cost of garden design in check is to employ a garden designer based on the amount of time they will spend on your job, rather than paying them a percentage of the overall budget: 'This often saves you money, rather than a one-size-fits-all percentage of the overall cost.'

How can I reduce the cost of garden design? 

There are a number of ways you can save money on professional garden design. One option is to hire a garden designer for a partial or limited design service. This might involve, for example, getting help with designing the layout of your garden, or choosing plants, landscaping materials and built-in elements such as bench seating, but not with the actual construction or installation. 

back garden with decked area, paving and planting and grey outdoor chairs

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Annaick Guitteny)

Stick to a budget

Part of the satisfaction of designing a garden for a client is sticking to a budget, says Andrew Duff, vice-chairman at SGD. 'If you had a certain figure in mind, for example, £5,000, and you said, “I want to spend this, what can you do?” there are certainly designers that would be happy to work to that. And whatever the budget, a line is still a line, you might be looking at the difference [in cost] between lawn and gravel, or York stone, but the line is still there. The design has been made.'

To reduce the number of hours your garden designer might spend researching ideas, he advises creating a digital – such as Pinterest – or physical, such as a mood-board or scrapbook, resource of your own to share with your professional, collating images of gardens, plants and garden features you like.

outdoor seating area on decking by lawn with silver outdoor table and chairs

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Nigel Rigden)

General guidance

If you already have a good idea how to plan a garden and just want expert advice on a certain aspect such as planting for a tricky spot, or creative ideas on how to deal with challenges such as privacy, you could ask a garden designer for a one-off consultation. For example, Lee Burkhill charges £200 for his 60-minute Remote Garden Consultancy Service.

Source your own plants

You can always ask a designer to simply create a scheme, then source your own plants; you may even decide not to fill all of the garden at once. However, you should always consider long-term plant growth and maintenance, so you will need to discuss this with your designer first. 

'On a very basic level a maintenance schedule is produced for the client,' says James. 'This classifies all the plants in the garden and explains when to do what with each of them. This is very useful for clients wanting to tend to their own garden or for them to hand over to their gardener.'

outdoor living area with fun patterned paving, white wooden table with metal chairs and raised level above

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Dominic Blackmore)

Use technology and free garden design services

If you’re planning a major garden design project and sourcing a lot of plants or materials such as hard landscaping from a particular garden centre or specialist supplier, ask if the company offers any free design services to keep costs down. 

Or, if you’re technically-minded, there is a choice of free or low-cost garden design software such as Shoot Gardening, £59 subscription for one year, and apps that you can use to create your own garden design such as the app iScape Landscape Design, free for amateurs and Home Outside, £2.49, Apple Store. 

Is it worth paying a garden designer? 

Though you can learn how to plan a garden yourself, a garden designer will take care of everything for you and make the process run as smoothly as possible from start to finish. 'A garden designer envisions shape, use, and beauty for an otherwise unappealing parcel of ground,' say the hard landscaping experts at Marshalls. 'These designs often include both hard landscaping, such as walkways and fences, and soft landscaping, such as shrubs and flower beds, to create an environment that both soothes and inspires.'

A garden designer will put together a garden that not only looks beautiful but functions practically as well. The risk with planning and designing a garden yourself is that you may encounter unforeseen issues further down the line. If you feel a little overwhelmed at the project, it might be best to let an expert take care of it.

'Working with a garden designer is similar to working with an architect and with an interior designer, but we kind of fuse the two things together,' says Lee Bestall, Founder of garden design company Bestall & Co, and SGD member. 'We are expected to know lots about plants, site, situation. We have to know lots about the infrastructure, but also how to light it, how to dress it. We’re really both jobs amalgamated into one, as well as a plant doctor.'

Green lawn with white paving slabs

(Image credit: Future PLC / Colin Poole)

How do I choose the right garden designer?

If you are going to pay a garden designer, it goes without saying that you need to do your research to make sure you find one that is suitable for your project. Most garden designers will have a website, portfolio or social media where you can look at their previous work. 

'Look for someone who can take what's there and create 2D plans and 3D images so you can envision the final piece; some may even be able to offer ‘fly-through’ videos, which is worth it for a larger space,' says Anna Hampshire, Head of Marketing, Marshalls. 'Ask them to detail and specify exactly how that garden will be built to create your ideal outdoor space.'

According to Anna, garden designers are distinguished by three disciplines: 

  • Horticulturalists – work with plants, devoting their knowledge to fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and non-food crops to enhance their well-being or development. Along with plant management, they may also design landscapes and sports turf.
  • Landscape architects – in charge of developing spectacular outdoor areas, selecting building methods and materials, and coordinating with contractors and suppliers on large-scale projects with large-scale budgets. They provide technical drawings for planning permission applications as well as for contractors like civil engineers to comprehend material properties and landscape components, and sustainability issues.
  • Landscapers – their ability to read plans and use their deep understanding of hard landscaping and construction materials are very valuable if you’re looking for fencing, walls, structures, decks or pavements.    

Have a look to see which area your garden designer specialises in so you can ensure you're getting what you want from the project. It's important to be clear from the get go about your priorities and non-negotiables, so you can get the assurance you need from your chosen designers. 

Finally, look at their reputation and qualifications. 'A garden designer who excels in their craft is likely to be a member of the Society of Garden Designers,' says Anna. 'These professionals have a proven track record of creating full garden designs, from planning and design to budgeting and execution.'

Does a garden designer add value? 

British house buyers would be willing to spend an extra £15,000 to buy a house with a well-designed garden, found a survey undertaken by SGD and property portal Zoopla. This survey also found that around three-quarters of homeowners either already have or would consider spending money on their garden to increase the value of their property, with 40 percent saying they would consider employing a professional garden designer to help create their perfect garden. 

'Nowadays more people understand the value of having their garden professionally designed,' says SGD member Cleve West. 'Many see it as a long-term investment.'

outdoor living area on decking with large sofa and bohemian cushions

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd / Robert Sanderson)

When should you not have a garden designer?

If you are worried about how much a professional garden designer will cost, or you want the satisfaction of designing your own garden, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself.

You will need a strong visual eye and sound plant knowledge, plus an understanding of the way the physical aspects of your garden will perform; so you will need to consider factors such as the type of soil, drainage and orientation. 

'You can actually do it yourself, but if you engage a garden designer, you’re often paying for years of experience and where they’ve learnt through their mistakes,' says Andrew. 'They know what works as well as what can go wrong.'

Jayne Dowle

Jayne Dowle is an award-winning freelance gardening, homes and property writer who writes about everything from swimming ponds to skyscraper apartments, for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. Awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021, she has a degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and a lifelong love of homes, interiors and gardens.

With contributions from