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Careers in Garden Design

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Comment from Angelique Robb

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I find that having a career in garden design very challenging. I have an engineering job that I still continue to work in parttime so that I can work in garden design and construct gardens. Although I do charge for garden designs (after building up a significant portfolio), I can't take a salary as I prioritise paying my staff (construction crew). We are quite a successful company (6 years) and we still cannot manage to pay a salary for a garden designer. This is the sad state of this industry - luckily I know designers that do it for the love of it like I do - but many people can not enter an industry where there is not enough pay to live off of.... What to do?!

  • Views: 797
  • Replies: 3
  • Posted: Wed. 20th November 2013 18:04

Re: Careers in Garden Design

Reply from Sue Jeffries

It's vital to structure a design fee into any estimate or quotation for a garden design and build job. After all, no-one would expect an architect to go unpaid for a house build project. I've recently provided a garden design as part of a package to gain planning permission for a new house and have charged for my time even though the garden cannot be built if permission isn't given. I'm sure that the architect has also charged a fee for their work.
Although most people working in horticulture and garden design do so because they enjoy it, it doesn't mean that we should do it for free (those in football, music, TV and films charge plenty!).
Please don't undervalue what you do by not charging for your time and expertise.

  • Posted: Tue. 26th November 2013 21:17

Re: Careers in Garden Design

Reply from Alexia at Blooming Marvellous Plants

I agree that it's easy to underestimate your own value when you so love what you do. I run a nursery and I'm guilty too, but oh so happy!

  • Posted: Thu. 2nd January 2014 21:14

Re: Careers in Garden Design

Reply from Matt Nichol

Understanding the value a design adds is the key to the problem here. All too often designers do not value what they bring to the party. If, as the designer, we don't value our input, why is the client going to? Designers can make a good living on a fee only basis but it can be a challenge if, first and foremost, we don't understand the importance of a well crafted design and the value it brings.

Ultimately, someone has to sit down and scratch their head about what they are going to do with even the simplest garden. Try painting a picture for your prospective client, when you are in the initial pitch meeting, of a scenario where there was no designer involved......be as specific as you can. e.g.who picks the paving, what pattern is it being laid in, what type of pointing, how is the fence constructed, who picks the panels?

Two things will happen, either they or you will realise the project is too small to warrant a formal design or you'll get a higher fee as you have fully justified your position. In the former where a simple sketch is required e.g. projects

  • Posted: Sun. 7th September 2014 21:34