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How to choose your Garden Designer

Of all the professions in the UK, garden design has to be one of the most unregulated, and unfortunately anyone can claim to be a designer whether they have completed a three year degree or a two week correspondence course. So although there may be talented individuals working in this area who have no formal training, it would not be advisable to employ one unless you are totally convinced that they are able to deliver the standard of work you require. Garden design is much more than the ability to place plants and shrubs in pleasing combinations. Any professional who has taken the time, trouble and expense to study and qualify, will have a deep knowledge of hard landscaping, materials, the way that spaces work together to create harmony, the risks and remedies of landforms, how to engineer water features and what happens if you decide to terrace a sloping site.

When choosing a designer, always look for someone with a recognised qualification from one of the big colleges which can afford top lecturers and resources, and guarantees a high standard of tuition. I graduated from the London College of Garden Design with a post-graduate diploma which not only taught me about the visible elements of garden design: stone, plants and trees; but also the more important subjects of laying paving, using water, light and shade, legal issues, soils and drainage. My principle lecturers were Andrew Wilson, Andrew Fisher-Tomlin and Mark Gregory, all experts in their own fields with global reputations. Their courses ensured that I approach each project in a systematic and ordered way, analysing the site as well as the client’s requirements, assessing risks and alternative treatments, and with the skills to communicate the concepts to my client as well as to third party contractors such as paving and water feature installers. I am a pre-registered member of the Society of Garden Designers, the industry’s regulating body, and am working towards full membership.

It is important to work with a designer whose approach and visions are in sympathy with your own which is why websites and images are so important, but even these cannot replace that all-important dialogue where details and desires are teased out in a profiling discussion which forms the heart of the design and build process. A professional designer will also provide a good after-care service which ensures that you remain completely happy with your garden in the years to come. Please contact me at Cornus Garden Design to discuss your garden and arrange a free of charge consultation on +44 (0) 7984 445601 or by email at