The South West London Gardener

How to Become a Garden Designer

final garden shot

When people think of gardening, they imagine getting their hands dirty planting flowers, laying turf, and building structures.

Before all this can happen though, there is an integral part of the process that needs to be done.

The design.

All great gardening teams have a great garden designer, and here’s how you can become one.

What Does a Garden Designer Do?

Every garden is different, and no customer is the same.

A garden designer’s first port of call will be to assess the brief. Is the customer looking for a family garden with a fence surround and a paved section such as this one in Clapham, or perhaps they’re hoping to get somewhere brimming with plants and nature such as this garden in Wimbledon?

A designer must take these ideas and bring them to life.

This involves plotting out the space that is provided, and planning in detail where structures can be built, plants can be planted, and turf can be laid.

There are many strings to a garden designer’s bow.

They have to have a good knowledge of horticulture and know which plants will fit things such as the environment of the garden. For example, if it is a shady spot, planting flowers that need hours of sunlight could be an issue.

They also need to know which plants will fit the garden best. If it is a small space, something that will grow to be huge may not be right.

Other things such as seating areas, dining areas, children play zones, or rock and water features have to be taken into account, as well as customer requests such as more privacy.

Being able to meticulously plan and plot a garden is a real talent and having a designer who can do this well is integral to any gardening team.

What Skills does a Garden Designer Need?

Attention to Detail

When it comes to garden planning, every millimetre counts.

Structures such as pergolas and planting beds need to be measured and placed precisely according to the plan or you may find that things don’t fit.

Things such as garden sleepers are also sometimes cut to measure, so it’s important to know the exact sizes and shapes of the things you plan to place in the garden to the smallest detail so you can work out the best way to do it and make sure you don’t hit any snags down the line.

A Creative Mind

Often when we first see a garden that is due to be renovated, it can be hard to envisage the end product.

What you must do in this situation is use your imagination and see beyond the current state of the space, seeing what it could be with some work instead.

By imagining different zones or additions to a garden and being able to implement these ideas into your plan you can really break the boundaries of garden design and see some great results.

Knowledge of Garden Materials

There are many materials that are used in garden design, and a good garden designer should know them all well.

Stone, wood, turf, all of these will be integral to many plans so knowing things like the cost, lifespan, flexibility, and more, will help you find the best materials to suit your client brief.

For example, if you’re going for a rustic approach, using old sleepers will be a great option. If you’re looking for something more modern, you would use a different type of wood.

Strong Communication Skills

When formulating your design, the needs of the customer must be at the front of your mind.

Keeping regular contact with them, from the early stages as they let you know what they want, to the later stages when you are filling them in on your plans, is vital.

Not only that, but you must be able to let the landscapers and other gardeners know about your plans and inform them on the work that needs to be done.

If you tell them something wrong, it could cause an issue down the line.

A Willingness to Dig In

Sometimes you may be needed to lend a hand in the garden.

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty and getting stuck into some work, then you’d make the perfect addition to any gardening team.

It may be helping to plant some flowers, shovelling some mud, or even hammering in some nails, but if you can be there when the team needs you, you’re sure to be a real asset.

How to Get the Qualifications

So, you’ve read this blog so far and you’re thinking you want to become a garden designer?

Well, the next step is to learn the trade.

There are many ways you can do this, but the first step is simply showing an interest.

This could be visiting a gardening show or buying some books and getting to know the basics.

Garden design jobs come at varying levels of entry, so sometimes all it takes is a bit of knowledge and a lot of determination to land your first role.

If you wanted to take the academic route, there are college and university courses available which will provide you with a great platform from which to further your career.

Of course, as with all things, the best way to learn is to do so on the job, so keep an eye out for apprenticeships and internships that can provide a great entrance into the world of gardening.

The Southwest London Gardener

Our team is always on the lookout for new and emerging talent in all aspects of gardening, including design.

If you would like to be a London garden designer, no matter what your experience, get in touch with our team today.

At The Southwest London Gardener we have varying roles available and would love to hear more from you.