Planning for Landscaping

    • Landscaping should be considered from the outset.
    • Most planning permissions will require a landscaping and tree planting scheme.
    • Spoil and topsoil should be stored out of the way of the construction, but convenient for the places it’s to be brought back to.
    • Tree and shrub species should be chosen at an early stage with reference to their suitability, not only for height and spread but also soil types. Some species may need to be planted in a particular season.
    • Retaining walls may need to be built prior to other works taking place.

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Where Do These Jobs Fit in?

  • Any existing landscaping features that are to be retained should be roped off prior to the commencement of any work.
  • New entrances or temporary driveways may be required prior to substantive work.
  • Topsoil should be stripped and stored.
  • Spoil to make up levels should be stored as foundations are dug.
  • Apart from the general sculpting of the ground, most substantive landscaping is left until near the end of the build.
  • Boundary enclosures may be either at the beginning or the end of the project.
  • Soft landscaping and tree planting should be left until last.

Who Does What?

Many self-builders will use the ground­workers to do much of the landscaping, with bricklayers pitching in with any necessary walling. Driveways can be installed by supply-and-fix contractors, but are usually built, along with paths, fencing and patios, by the groundworkers.

What DIY?Potential is There?

  • Garden walls are quite straightforward to build — but not engineered retaining walls.
  • Raking out topsoil or sharp sand to remove stones and weeds prior to turfing is a job that most can do.
  • Rolling out turf is relatively easy so long as you have sharp spade, scaffolding boards and a thumper (a 600mm length of off-cut timber, 150mm x 50mm fixed in a ‘T’ to a 1.5m length of 100mm x 50mm will suffice).
  • Planting is easy. Make sure the hole is larger than the root ball and backfill with topsoil, general purpose compost and a feeder.
  • Laying driveways, paths and patios to a fall is a semi-professional job but one that most self-builders can acquire the skills for.
  • Fencing is within most people’s capacity, given the right tools.

Tools & Materials

What you need to provide:

  • A thorough plan of what you’re hoping to achieve. This may be produced by landscape designer.
  • Driveways will need hardcore as well as the final surface material.
  • Edgings and wall foundations may/will require concrete.
  • Many pathway, patio and driveway mediums are laid on sharp sand or mortar, so a mixer will be required.
  • A mini digger and dumper may well be required.
  • Wheelbarrows should be on site.
  • A level may be useful.
  • Turf needs to be ordered.
  • Turf can often be successfully bedded on sharp sand if there is insufficient topsoil on site.
  • Scaffold boards will be needed as runways and supports.
  • All surface mediums, plants, trees and fencing materials.

What to Pay

Daywork Rates

A ganger plus a labourer will cost around £225 per day.

Total Job Costs

For a 1,000m² plot with average block paved driveway, riven slab paths and patios, close boarded fencing and turfed lawn, the labour costs should be between £6,000 and £9,000.

When to Pay

  • Labour only — weekly.
  • Lump sum price in two to four stages.
  • Supply and fix — at the end of the job or in two stages.

Where to Save Money

  • Doing all or most of the work yourself.
  • Using tanalised timber edgings instead of concrete.
  • Buying bare rooted hedging plants — purchase and plant November to March/early April.
  • Seeding the lawn instead of turfing.

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