Meet The Team: Studio 31

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What are the advantages of professionally landscaping your home and garden? We talked to director Katie Flaxman from Studio 31, an award-winning landscape architecture practice with a health, well-being and sustainability focus. 

There’s plenty to shout about when it comes to landscaping your garden – even if you’re on a budget. Most people want their home to look amazing so they can enjoy the health benefits and aesthetics it brings, but also want good value for money.

Coastal Garden, Suffolk : A coastal retreat for creativity and togetherness

Coastal Garden, Suffolk: A coastal retreat for creativity and togetherness

But what are the benefits?

A beautifully landscaped garden can work wonders for your mental health in particular. When you imagine your house, whether it’s a flat with a balcony or a family detached on a large plot of land, every space will connect to the exterior. It’s proven that even just looking out at nature can have a positive impact on health and lots of research has been done to support that theory. But – don’t forget functionality.

When it comes to the internal part of the house nearest to the garden, most times this is the kitchen; it’s often the space in a home with the most connectivity to the garden. When you ask people to imagine being in their kitchen, they’ll often talk about opening up the doors to the garden on a sunny day or having big windows overlooking their kids at play. They may also imagine social events where they’ll be using the garden and kitchen spaces together. So, it’s worth giving the two areas equal consideration rather than thinking of them separately. After all, a build project can really benefit from a landscape that works with, and compliments, the building overall. 

Plus, a carefully designed garden is likely to boost the value of your home too. When talking to estate agents most will tell you that a well landscaped garden can really help to sell a property, so it can be an investment that, quite literally, pays off.

When should you speak to a Landscape Architect or Designer when planning your renovation?

Most people want to get the renovations to their house sorted first before doing their garden work separately later on. This makes logical sense, however, there are huge benefits to considering how your homes and garden can be integrated and work together. With this in mind, it’s definitely worth enlisting the services of a Landscape Architect or Designer right from the beginning and working through your internal and external plans as one project.

So what’s the most important message here?

Have a plan!

Whether making changes in small stages or doing everything in one go you can spend a lot of money in the wrong places when you don’t have a long-term achievable plan. If you get a landscape architect on board, you will soon have an idea of what that bigger picture looks like. You can work towards this and save serious money in the long run.

There are so many benefits of planning ahead, not least to check that the work is actually possible. For example, not all houses have rear access and if you don’t plan and measure up it may not be physically possible to get the machinery or mature plants required through your house to do the garden. Seeing both your internal and external renovation work as one project, and not two separate entities could save you both time and money; machinery hired for the home renovations may have a dual purpose on some of the garden work, you may want to run electrics or cabling out to  the garden whilst you have fitters doing work inside, the same goes for water and sorting any level or drainage issues. Early planning can ensure you don’t have to redo work on the house or damage your beautiful new home later when installing the garden.

Brook House, Leicestershire : A renovation of a beautiful historic home in Leicestershire.

Brook House, Leicestershire: A renovation of a beautiful historic home in Leicestershire.

But how do you go about getting a garden designer? And who should you hire?

So, you’d like to start speaking to someone about your garden design, but how should you approach it? And what is the difference between a Landscape Gardener, a Landscape Designer and a Landscape Architect? Hopefully this will explain.

Landscape Architects

Landscape Architects are in many ways like building architects. They work to a professional set of guidelines and there’s a Chartership in the same way there is for architects. The training is similar and they must maintain certain standards which protect both the professionals and also the clients.  You might find a landscape architect working on large scale landscaping jobs in the public realm right down to individual residential projects and everything in between; it depends on their specialism.

Garden or Landscape Designers

To call yourself a garden designer you don’t need to have any qualifications but most do. Many will have a degree in garden design or another garden design qualification but there isn’t a chartership process in the same way as there is for landscape architects and their projects tend to be smaller residential though this isn’t always the case.

It’s always good to look for people that are registered with a professional body such as the Society of Garden Designers (SGD) or the Landscape Institute, or with an organisation like BALI (British Association of Landscape Industries) because it gives you some kind of protection as a client.

Landscape Gardeners

A Landscape Gardener is usually tradesmen registered with the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL). These tend to be the people that actually build or maintain the garden. Some will offer basic design services and many landscape architects or garden designers will work closely with landscape gardeners to offer design and build services.

Converted Barn, Suffolk : A grade II listed barn conversion with sensitive landscaping design to match the surrounding farmland and countryside

Converted Barn, Suffolk: A grade II listed barn conversion with sensitive landscaping design to match the surrounding farmland and countryside

Converted Barn, Suffolk : A grade II listed barn conversion with sensitive landscaping design to match the surrounding farmland and countryside

Converted Barn, Suffolk: A grade II listed barn conversion with sensitive landscaping design to match the surrounding farmland and countryside

What Services can they provide?

-       Start with a concept plan

-       Help get through planning

-       Detailed design

-       Planting guide

-       Ordering

-       Oversee the tender of the project to contractors

-       Installation

-       project manage the build if that’s required

Take a look at the design pages of Studio 31’s website for more detailed information on the stages of the design process.


5 top tips for staying within budget

Ready to get started? Why not check out Katie’s handy budgeting tips to make your dream home a reality without breaking the bank.

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When discussing your plans with your landscape designer, make a list of ‘must-haves’ and ‘would like to haves’.

That way you can see where money needs to be spent and where you can cut corners.

The services of a professional landscape designer may not be as expensive as you think.

In fact, they can help you save a lot of money in the long run by using their experience to recommend against any unwise decisions, saving you a huge headache (and plenty of cash) in putting things right if the worst happens.

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There’s no such thing as too much planning when it comes to redesigning your living space. The more thought you put into it, the less likely you are to experience unpleasant surprises – or extra cost.

Plus, it can really help give your planner additional confidence in your scheme to have a landscape plan in place, bringing that extra context to your application.

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They will be able to take your plans and see what will be expensive and where costs can be cut. They can also phase the works, take elements of the design out or alter the specification so that the project budget fits - or is within a price - that you’re comfortable with.

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Although you may not want any lighting or irrigation put in now, it’s well worth adding cabling and drainage anyway. This means that if you decide to put these features in at a later date, you don’t need to spend further time and money altering or adjusting your garden further down the line.

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We would love to know how your project turns out!

Follow us on Instagram and tag us #wearehomenotes in images of your works in progress or your finished dream home!