When Should You Commission A Garden Designer?

It’s that wonderful time of year when the sun has started to shine, kids are out playing in the street, the evenings are stretching longer every day and flowers, leaves and blossom are unfurling everywhere. And with that, our phone and email are going like tickets for an Adele concert with enquiries from people wanting their garden done. So when is the right time to to commission a garden designer?…

Commission a garden designer at Vialii

One of our recent garden designs


Well, obviously we are delighted to hear from you all year round. The most difficult thing we have to deal with at this time of year (other than a massive workload and two energetic under-5s!) is managing clients’ expectations in terms of time-scales. Every year we know that as soon as the sun shines the phone will ring with people wanting their garden transformed before summer and sadly, we can rarely work to those time-scales. So here are a few tips on when is best to commission a garden designer and some info on our process…

Art deco summerhouse

Creating a magical garden takes time

The optimum time to get in touch with us is in Autumn. Take the summer to spend lots of time in your garden, take notes of what you like (and don’t like). Where are the sunny areas? What plants do you want to keep? What do you want to include in the garden and use it for? A good designer will be booked up several weeks (or at this time of year a few months!) ahead so figure that into your schedule. A well considered design will be created over 6-12 weeks ensuring we have covered every detail and ticked all of your boxes. By taking our time over the design process we will have an opportunity to build up an even better working relationship and make sure you are happy through every stage of the design and build.  Our in-house landscaping team are commonly booked up three months in advance too (they are pretty wonderful so you can understand why!) so if you allow six months before you want your garden build to commence then you should have plenty of wiggle room.

Garden design by Vialii

Perfecting your garden design takes time

As well as a “masterplan”, there are often other drawings which need to be pulled together including construction drawings, lighting layouts and planting plans. There are no “back of a fag packet” sketches to be seen around these parts!

At all stages of your design we will keep you posted on our landscaping schedule so you will have an idea of when the build is likely to take place. We will keep you posted on costs too so you can decide if you want to phase your garden build or do it all at once.

There may be third party elements to your garden build which we need to factor in as well. Items such as sculptures, water features, bespoke gates etc will all have lead times which need to be considered.

Sculpture by Steve James

An amazing sculpture by Steve James going into one of our garden designs

In some gardens we may even have to get planning permission which can easily add another 8-12 weeks to your lead times.

So there is a lot to consider when you are thinking about when to commission a garden designer and we want to ensure that such an exciting journey meets your expectations every step of the way. We are incredibly lucky to have wonderful clients who are very patient and are happy to wait for our services. We would be delighted to help you too, just don’t ask us to come round tomorrow 😉

All at Vialii

It’s Only A Phase!

Clients commonly ask us if it is OK if they can phase their garden build. We ensure there is complete flexibility with all our designs and how they are built. If it’s something you are considering read our blog about the benefits and downsides to this approach.

A phased garden

A garden in Perth which was built over two phases

Sometimes it’s not possible to build your newly designed dream garden at the one time. Maybe budget doesn’t allow it or perhaps other building work going on in the house might impact on the garden. By building the design in phases, though, it is still possible to eventually get the dream garden over a longer timescale.

Planning Process

The most important thing is to be organised and draw up a masterplan of everything the final garden will contain. This masterplan will ensure that the phases marry together neatly and produce a cohesive overall feel once all stages are complete. The master design also becomes roadmap for every cable and pipe to be laid above or below ground and the identity and position of every tree and plant. For example if you’re laying a patio in an early phase it will be important to know if you’re installing a lighting feature at a later stage so that electrics can be properly located and the patio doesn’t need to be lifted temporarily.
It is useful to also have a mood board of the different soft and hard landscaping to be used in each phase to give a greater appreciation of how those will work together too.


A mood board shows all the areas of the garden which will come together

Building Process

In order to get as much instant gratification as possible the larger surfacing work should be done in phase one. This includes laying patios and lawns further away from access points. Not only will you be able to enjoy these spaces but getting the soil covered will help keep your house clean! Another priority should be getting shelter from wind or sun and some privacy/security. This could be boundaries such as fences and walls or trees. If you’re including any “grow your own” areas you might wish this to be done earlier in the build too so you can start to re-coup money savings on shop bought produce.

A design for a phased garden in Stirling

A design for a phased garden in Stirling


If you’re redesigning front and back gardens it can be tempting to start with the front garden to get best kerbside effect. But all the hard work can easily be damaged if there are subsequent access issues getting materials into the rear garden and waste out. It’s best not to “paint yourself into a corner”!

The last thing you do is seed the lawn or lay turf. Newly planted lawns need time to germinate or root and that’s hard to do if they’re being trampled all over by gardeners lugging other plants around! It’s also best to plant up the ornamental flowers and trees in the latter phases as they’ll need maintenance and pruning so you may as well put that off until the end.
Phase 2: This back garden was phased to tie in with the new house extension

Phase 2: This back garden was phased to tie in with the new house extension


The main benefit is that work can be done as and when budget allows (it can be done over however many months or years as suits you.)  You can perhaps spend a little bit more getting the best quality plants and some bigger specimens. This can be offset by buying smaller trees in the first phase which tend to cope better with the shock of being moved. Spreading your budget means no corners will need to be cut and you won’t have to settle for something you are not 100% sure about.


Plan each garden phase well

It’s important to think how the phasing will work so no damage is done to areas already completed

Before Your Design

Once your design is complete, whilst there is flexibility in when to do the build, it’s better to stick to your design plan. Small tweaks are fine but it’s better to make sure you 100% happy with your design before doing any work on it. To make this happen there are a few things to consider before you ask us to design your garden:
If you’ve not long moved into the property, spend time to work out just how your existing garden works for you.

So if you are considering a new look to your garden please get in touch and we will be round to help you plan a master design so you can get everything on your “essential”,”nice to have” and “dream” lists.

All at Vialii

Provost Park Set To Blossom

For almost three years, local business Vialii Garden Design have been working closely with Bridge of Allan Community Council to create a new design for the village’s Provost Park. Having secured funding for the build, the design is about to be finally brought to life. Being based in the village, Vialii are delighted to have been involved in the project from its initial concept and to be able to give something back to the community for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Vialii's design for the new Provost Park

Vialii’s design for the new Provost Park

Since the controversial new toilet block was finally completed in Bridge of Allan, the space around it, known as Provost Park, had largely been left untouched and was a sad space in an otherwise beautiful and prosperous village. The Provost Lamp had been renovated and given a new life but its surroundings had yet to be brought up to the same standard.

Vialii Garden Design were approached in late 2010 to discuss the possibility of being involved in the renovation of Provost Park. As a local company based in Bridge of Allan, Vialii were delighted to be able to provide advice and designs for the benefit of the community.

Initially, company directors Michael and Jill Burt met with some of the Community Council to discuss the project. Jill recalls:

“It was in the middle of a cold snap in the winter of 2010 when we first met up Gavin Drummond and Liz Rankin from the Community Council. They were putting up the village Christmas tree in the park to try and add some sparkle to what was otherwise an uninspiring space. At least the thick covering of snow hid the lack of interest underneath! At the meeting Liz and Gavin discussed some of the ideas that had been considered for the space and asked if we were able to pull together some thoughts.”

The beautiful, renovated Provost Lamp

The beautiful, renovated Provost Lamp

Jill explains the inspiration for the design:

“There were three main requirements which jumped out at us from the outset. Firstly, the community required a practical area where they can relax and enjoy the world going by. The space needed to be usable by everyone in the community whether that’s families, couples or elderly so path widths and surfaces were important. Plentiful seating was clearly important too. Secondly, the area had to look good. The Friends of Bridge of Allan, who look after many of Bridge of Allan’s public gardens, carry out fantastic work in the community and Provost Park has been a contentious issue for some time. We were keen to design a space that the community could all be proud of and be happy to use. It’s a great space, right in the middle of the village so it needed to have the “wow factor” and be fitting of its focal point in such an attractive village. Lastly, we were keen to reflect the Victorian inspiration which surrounds the park and the spa village and design a garden which would be appropriate for the space.

The current park is uninspiring

The current park is uninspiring

“The main focal point for the design is a stunning, cast iron gazebo, situated in the centre of formal gardens. Victorians loved symmetry and topiary so we made sure these were key features of the space. Vintage style bricks edge wide pathways suitable for all members of the community. Decorative metal screens will surround the toilet block providing a nicer backdrop to the gardens and will include details inspired by the village itself. In the corner closest to the toilets, an ecclesiastical garden is to be created, reflecting the park once being the site of a church. Liz has managed to obtain beautiful pew benches from one of the village churches which will sit in this area looking onto a centre bed of perfumed plants. The central focal point of this area will be the existing stone fountain.

The wall which runs the length of Provost Park will boast new interpretation boards highlighting some of the key features and historical information about Bridge of Allan. To the front of the park, a grassy area has been included, allowing space to sit out and relax and watch the world passing by.

The mood-board shows the inspiration behind Vialii's new design for Provost Park

The mood-board shows the inspiration behind Vialii’s new design for Provost Park

The planting is a mixture of formal topiary as well as smaller shrubs, bedding plants and bulbs. The aim is to keep the gardens fairly low maintenance to reduce pressure on the Friends of Bridge of Allan, who will take over responsibility for the garden once it is complete.

It’s been a delight to work with Gavin, Liz and the team as well as working with the local community and taking their views on board. We are honoured to have been asked to be involved in such an important project and to be able to give something back to the community. We look forward to seeing the actual gardens being constructed very soon but the real icing on the cake will be seeing local residents and visitors using and enjoying the space.”

Thanks for reading

All at Vialii

The Garden Design Process Explained

At Vialii Garden Design, we understand what a daunting prospect it can be embarking on getting your garden designed and landscaped. We will endeavour to make you comfortable through every stage of the process and keep you well informed of what is happening and what to expect. We will discuss the process in greater detail at the initial meeting but here is our ten step guide to having your garden transformed…

A new deck which we designed and built, part of the garden design process

A new deck which we designed and built

1. Contact us

Contact us to arrange the initial, FREE, no obligation meeting at a time that suits you, including evenings and weekends. It is most helpful if you can give some thought to your garden before we come. Talk to everyone in your household and ask what they want and will be using the garden for. Consider how much time you want to give to the maintenance of your garden, What do you like or dislike, what styles do you like. Collate images from magazine or the internet and look at the Styles section of our website for ideas of the types of things you like. Don’t worry if you really don’t know as we will have lots of ideas to discuss with you.

One of our garden designs

One of our garden designs

2. Free Initial consultation

At the initial meeting we will discuss your requirements and what you want to use the garden for. We will also assess the site (test the soil, look at the aspect, drainage etc.) and take measurements as well as present our portfolio of designs. We will also discuss your budget as well as talk you through the process in more detail and discuss timescales.

3. Quote for Design

Following on from the initial meeting, we will send you a quotation for doing your design.

4. Appointment Agreement

You sign our “Design” Appointment Agreement form and we proceed with your design.

5. Interim Design Meeting

There will be a second meeting to present our initial ideas and rough sketches. Once we get feedback from you we can then carry on with the full design.

6. Final Design Package

The full design, drawn to scale, is completed along with a mood board showing our inspiration as well as a feel for both the soft and hard landscaping to be used in the design. Costs for the works to be completed by Vialii Garden Design are included.

7. Payment for Design

You finalise payment for the design and ask Vialii Garden Design to build your design and sign the “Build” Appointment Agreement (should that be your requirement).

Our moodboards help you visualise your design

Our moodboards help you visualise your design

8. Garden Build

Vialii Garden Design build the design, ensuring the concept is fully carried out through the build, bringing your design to life. Some payment is required up front to cover materials with the balance due on completion.

9. Plant Care Sheet

A care sheet for all your new plants is provided to make it easy for you to identify everything and care for your new garden properly.

10. Payment for Build

You finalise payment for the build and ask our sister company,Vialii Garden Services, to maintain your garden ensuring it remains beautiful and true to the design (should that be your requirement).

One of the many gardens which we have lovingly designed and built

One of the many gardens which we have lovingly designed and built

As you can see, we can offer you the full service from start to finish, leaving you to simply relax and enjoy your stunning newly designed garden. You can choose whatever elements suit your lifestyle and budget best. Please get in touch to start your garden transformation.

All at Vialii