Tag Archives: Choosing

Oxford Garden Designer – Choosing the right service for you

This article sets out the five stages you need to go through to find yourself a garden designer in or around Oxford who does the job  to your satisfaction.  If you live in Oxfordshire there are plenty of designers around.  The trick is to find one who does a good job for a good price.

Stage 1

 Find a garden designer.  Try and get referrals from your friends, neighbours and work colleagues to see if they can recommend a designer, or who know somebody who can make a recommendation.  Ask at garden centres.  Once you get some names check out any designers who have websites so as to get some background information on them, such as how long they have been in business, whether they are a family firm or a part of a larger company.

Stage 2  

 Selecting a garden designer. On your first contact be specific about what you are seeking and how quickly you will make a decision.  Some designers encounter casual or even dishonest homeowners and so they don’t want to waste their time.  So say you are interviewing 3 designers and not 10.  If you have to leave a telephone message don’t be vague, or you may not get a response. Spell out the nature of the job you want.

Having said that you can expect a good garden designer to be courteous and precise in answering your legitimate questions.  In particular you need to clarify:

– the experience of the designer and any team.  How long has his/her company been operating and has the company plenty of experience of the type of work which you require

– what references the designer can provide.  You need at least three references which must be of a similar type of work.  Then check these references out and especially ask the referees whether they consider the designer did a good job and whether the referee would use the designer again.

– what insurance the designer has to cover employee compensation and other insurance requirements

– what warranty the designer will provide, covering both parts and labour for the work done. 

– detailed estimates spelling out the timespan of the project, the preparation of the design plan, the materials to be used, and their prices, the labour costs and any circumstances which might mean that the estimate has to be revised.  The last thing you want is to be stung by an unexpected demand for cash followed by the threat of walking out if the payment is not made.

A wording of warning.  Do not select a garden designer solely because he/sh provides the lowest estimate.  While most designers are well established there are some tales of jobs being inadequately done or even left unfinished, requiring the expenditure of thousands more in cash to get the job sorted.  Select a garden designer on the basis of their reputation

Stage 3 

 Discuss the options on materials and plants to be used.  Ideally you will have done some research on the internet about different types of plants and materials.  You may have some strong ideas of your own.  The designer should have up-to-date knowledge on quality products for your project. He/she is the best source of information, but you should play an active role in the product selection process. Ask questions about different materials such as brand names, life span, design, available colours, maintenance requirements and warranties.

Stage 4

Get a written contract.  This is really important.  The contract should cover:

– the intended starting and finishing dates of the project

–  the details of the payment schedule. How much upfront and how much later on and when

– the details of the materials and plants to be used, spelling out brand names and the colours to be used

– On-site procedures – work hours, clean-up procedures on and around your home, safety precautions, etc.

– warranties covering both labour and materials.

Stage 5 

Let the designer get on with the job.  By all means monitor progress but don’t be hanging over the designer and his team.



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Choosing Your Bonsai Containers

The elements contained in a work of art need to have a certain harmony and cohesiveness. Since a bonsai tree is a work of art the bonsai containers chosen to house your trees must be purchased with the thought of coordinating with the type and style of tree.

when selecting a bonsai container you should consider the color and the material as well as the shape and size. The pot should be selected to match with the particular tree that will be in it. There is no hard and fast rule to this but go with a sense of symmetry and also consider bonsai tradition when selecting your container. Be sure to take into consideration will the tree will look like when pruned and make sure that the container gives a sense of balance to the overall design.

In addition to aesthetics you must think about the practical side of bonsai containers:

In addition to balancing your work of art to be pleasing to the eye, the container must also physically balance the weight of the tree in the soil. One size can be easily tipped over if the pot is too small for the tree so be sure that you get a pot that is having enough to withstand a little tippiness or you might find your tree laying on the ground.

The style of your container also needs to be managed with the style of your bonsai. A cascading bonsai design like a kengi or han-kengi has a trunk and branch is that the below the rim of the container. This is to look like a tree that is growing off the side of a cliff or hanging over under heavy snowfall. Therefore, you want a pot that is wide and can hold a lot of soil to offset the hanging of the treaty so it does not tip over.

In addition to sell considerations, of course, make sure that your container is large enough for your bonsai roots to spread out and grow. A bonsai should be transplanted every two years so you want to make sure that when you put it in its new container is enough room for two years of growth.

It’s also important that your bonsai container have the right drainage so sure that the plot as a whole the bottom along with a mesh screen to allow water to escape. Also make sure the screen is not too small as it can become clogged or not too big as then it can allow soil to leak out.

It’s important that your container have a tray underneath to catch the overflow of water. Over watering or under watering your bonsai can easily kill it and in fact is attributed to most bonsai deaths. Therefore, having appropriate drainage and a tray to catch the extra water will allow water to drain out and then some to be soaked back if the soil is too dry. It’s important, however, to make sure that the tray is not always in a puddle of water as this may contribute to root rot of your bonsai.

The size of container you need is affected by the species of bonsai tree. Trees that flower and bear fruit need more water and can tolerate wet conditions better but conifers like the White Pine prefer to have the soil dry out between watering.

It may take a little experience and a good design eye to pick out the best bonsai container, but luckily there are many good examples out there to help guide you. Remember, some bonsai trees can live as long as 200 years so you should be able to find many examples of beautiful trees and their containers to stimulate your imagination.

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