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never had your garden ‘designed’ before

Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago. Recently we have had a wave enquiries where people feel that not paying for a design is saving money. That’s perfectly fine but as long as you take the correct free advice and from the correct people.

We have designed anything from 17th century five acre gardens to the most modern and futuristic of advanced and out of place designs – and built them. We have also on the other hand designed and built gardens that dont cost the earth but do look really good.

The second piece of advice is to take the correct advice. So should one pay for a consultation charge? The answer is of course if you feel you should and naturally if you will get something valuable and worthwhile for your cudos. If you do decide to get a garden designed and/ or built for either sixty five euro or sixty five thousand euro remember the numbers at the bottom of the page of the invoice is what it actually costs and you gotta pay that amount [I’ll get back to that later]. In the meantime – enjoy the article.

peter

You want to get the garden designed. You have already tried and after spending the entire lottery, it still looks humorous. The sun is shining. The neighbours have just started their barbeque. You own a jungle. Where do you start?

On the cheap: Measure up the garden. You don’t need a measuring tape or trunnel wheel. One large pace equals one metre approximately and one of your feet is one foot (you’ll have a rough idea). Drop down to the local garden centre and with sketch in hand ask all the questions you can. Its better to go on a Monday when it’s quiet. Always give an idea of the theme you want in the garden, don’t tell them I want this and one of them etc.(if you say water feature and it may not ever have looked good in your back yard – the friendly people who were going to give you advice are now on commission and your stuck with a gift for your sister.) Remember you don’t have to purchase on that day. Call the offices of a professional landscapers/ designers association. They’ll put you in touch with somebody in your area. Generally you can get advice (free) over the phone. They don’t have to call out.

  • Pay a little: Call a landscape contractor of reputation. They may charge for call outs/ consultation charges, but this is a very wise investment (even if the Father-in-law and Jimmy’s brother/ cousin/ sister are all expert green fingers). Decide on the basics with your family first. Do you need?
  • A shed – what size and type? Brick or timber?
  • A washing/ clothes line – Rotary/ retractable/ or one for the local football team?
  • A barbeque – built in or moveable? Gas or coal? Consider the neighbours and the clothes line!
  • Kiddies play area – Swings, slides and pits? sand or bark mulch? Moveable or resident? In my opinion it is better to put these ‘built in’ in one area – this can be adapted/ changed to suit your investment/ garden at a later date. ie. when the little ones mature.
  • Lights – how many? Security and/ or decorative? Sunken or above ground level? Remember low budget/ plastic looks better below ground and you’ll still see the light.
  • Outdoor electricity points/ plugs – where? Always get a double and get the two done together.
  • Outdoor tap/ water source – where? Both of the above mean the contractors don’t need to traffic over your new flooring and you don’t have to be there shedding tears at the state of the place halfway through the job.
  • Table and chairs area – Just for two or the entire Partridge family? Decide on whether it goes to full sun or shade. Please, pick/ measure the dining set you want first and allow 1.5 metres off the back of each chair. This means you only get the size of patio required and the stonemason doesn’t retire on your entire garden budget. (It also stops Nanna falling into the new rose bush when she pushes her chair away to get up from the table.)
  • Raised timber structure/ Patio – take the advice of your consultant and ensure it fits into your overall theme.
  • Green waste area – they can be ‘off in scent’ but they are in todays genre a must.

Ask for a rough ‘outline overview sketch’ of what the garden will look like – on headed paper – this will save you the cost of a full design service. Assuming it’s not a requirement of planning, this should, with a little vision and trust on your part, suffice. Again give a general themed idea of what you would like.

Pay a little/ lot more:Call a registered landscape designer. They usually charge for call outs/ consultations. They will charge for their design and also a percentage fee to oversee their design. This will be a very detailed design with a planting plan you may not understand ever and may come complete with a visual impression of what you can expect to see. Your garden designer will ensure you don’t need to do any of the above. Ensure your requirements are met so as not to result with your designers very own memorial playground. Let them know how much time and what gardening tasks you are willing to spend/ do in the garden (be honest and realistic!). Find out what contractor will carry out the necessary works and as important if they will do the after care/ maintenance. Get an estimate of cost on the landscaping of this wonderful design before you pay for the actual drawings. This ensures you don’t end up with a very expensive piece of paper that will never become a creation.

Remember:

  • Know your budget limit but be realistic.
  • Agree all prices before your contract starts.
  • Stonework requires dry weather and plants/ lawns need water.
  • Don’t pay for contractors tools to sit in their shed on ‘down time’ and don’t end up paying a contractor to water you plants
  • You don’t have to do it all at once.
  • Gardens can be phased in over a period of time. It may take a little longer but you will get that dream.
  • Don’t be afraid to do something different
  • Quality products cost more and cheap can be often tearful rather than cheerful.

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irish entrepreneur magazine

silver medal winning 'no rubber-soul'

silver medal winning 'no rubber-soul'

I just received a copy of the irish entrepreneur magazine [july/ august issue] with a delightful picture of our garden on page 58 from bloom in the park. The pictures for this were taken by Maura Hickey who on the wednesday before the June Bank Holiday event took an absolute smashing picture for the Irish Examiner newspaper. Funnily enough one of the first ever publications I featured in was entitled ‘getting dirty’ in The irish entrepreneur way back in March 2004. It can be really difficult at times to get PR especially for bulding a garden so to Maree Morrissey of the Irish Magazine a great big thanks!

To those of you who will see the picture I know it’s not what a garden designer should look like [?] but it is a good picture and one I know Ms. Hickey is quite proud of. This was also VIP night for Bord Bia the organisers of the event so hence the black tie theme – just in case you start to believe we build every garden dressed like that!

enjoy

peter

10 things you did not know about peter donegan landscaping ltd…

peter donegan, aidan cotter, trevor sargeant

1. On setting up Peter organized six to nine months credit with four main suppliers; his accountant, a plants nursery, an agrochemical suppliers and a farm supplies shop.
2. Peter borrowed the tools for his first Job from a friend of his, a civil engineer.
3. Peter is the oldest employee at 31 years old. The youngest is 19 years old. The average employee age is 25 years old. On average Peter has lost one permanent employee per 2 years & 3 months. There are 9 full time employees all have studied horticulture except one [19 years old] who will finish studying this June and Sara [Office Manager computer degree]
4. Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd was nominated for best new business award in 2001 by The Fingal Chamber of Commerce. The award was eventually given to a subsidiary of an Post. This year saw the company shortlisted for the Chamber Environment Award – the award was eventually given to Murphy Environmental & Mc Donalds.
5. To heat the office Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd uses briquettes made from recycled office paper; wood and timber from various garden projects. Envelopes are reused and sent back with a sticker saying ‘save a tree – recycle an envelope’
6. The first article printed about Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd was in March 2004 in the Irish Entrepreneur entitled ‘Getting Dirty’.
7. Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd is to be nominated for the Barr 50 awards – The top 50companies to operate their business through use of the Irish language. Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd is the first horticultural related website to be translated into Irish according to Foras na Gaeilge. The award is to be presented on Friday June 1st, the opening day of Bloom.
8. Sponsored by the company, Peter will travel to South Africa this November to build a garden for the Neill Melon trust.
9. The garden No Rubber – Soul is still without a main sponsor.
10. The prototype [blue car] was built because people thought Peter was ‘off his rocker’ and couldn’t see what he was trying to achieve. This is not the car that will be used in the show.

[correct at time of going to print May 2007]

DID YOU KNOW…
Garden n 1 Brit an area of land usually next to a house,
for growing flowers, fruit, or vegetables. 2 Also: gardens
a cultivated area of land open to the public