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View of a garden with foliage in the foreground

04 Apr 2023

How much does a sensory garden cost?

A guide to planning and costing a sensory garden

Article by Helen Rosevear

So you’ve decided you want to create a sensory garden now you just need to work out how much it's going to cost.

This is a question that comes up again and again with us, and whilst it is very much a case of ‘it depends’ we realised that’s just not helpful. So it’s time to get into the detail and tell you exactly how much money you should be expecting to budget for your sensory garden project.

Why can professional landscaping companies seem so expensive?

The following cost guides reflect what you should expect a professional landscaping company to charge to build your garden. It is worth remembering that professional contractors have to cover the following in their costs: labour, machinery, materials, plants, insurances and the time spent project managing the construction for you.

Perhaps you’re thinking that you have volunteers who will contribute their time - great, this can save lots of money - but remember, creating a garden is a skilled project. Expertise and care are especially important for tasks such as building structures, shelters, walls, paths, steps, lighting and handling big plants and trees. Make sure you have people with the correct skills for garden construction. This is very important for both success and safety.

You will need a brief

Creating a clear brief (a prioritised list of your ideas and requirements) for the project is essential to your garden’s success. When you discuss your ideas with a designer a brief will help you both ascertain where your budget is best spent.

Some garden features and locations are more expensive than others, below are a few things to consider and the associated costs. Please note the costs are only guides to assist you in considering the budget required to build your garden and cannot be guaranteed.

Sensory garden with shelving, decking and plants in pots

Sensory garden planting schemes

The thing to remember is that big plants cost big money! Sometimes it’s worth buying a big plant for instant impact, but it’s also good to buy smaller ones and watch them grow, even better try growing some things from seed yourself.

Cost guide based on an area that measures 5m x 10m ( 50m2).

Allow at least £2,500 – £5,000 (this is equivalent to £50 – £100 average per m2 ) to pay a professional landscaper or gardener to supply small to medium plants and plant them.

Garden construction

Sensory garden construction can vary a lot, depending on how many features you want, how complicated the construction is, and the materials used.

Lower cost

Lower cost gardens usually have larger areas of planting and lawn compared to the amount of paving and built structures, and the features included in the garden tend to include simple pergolas, simple raised beds, standard fencing, tarmac paths and larger areas of grass instead of planting. Grass tends to be started by seeding (instead of instant turf), and planted with smaller, ‘wait a few years to grow‘ plants.

Cost guide based on an area that measures 5m x 10 (50m2).

Allow at least £7,500 - £12,500 (this is equivalent to £150 – £250 average per m2) to pay a professional landscaper or gardener to build this type of garden.

Medium to higher cost

Medium to higher cost gardens often have more ‘built’ features and paving areas compared to the lawn and planting of lower cost ones. Features include shelters, paving, resin-bound surfaces, steps, retaining walls, tall free-standing walls, water features, stone and brick raised planters, lighting, larger ‘instant impact’ plants, and ‘bespoke’ (made to order) features.

Cost guide based on an area that measures 5m x 10m (50m2).

Allow £15,000 - £50,000 (this is equivalent to £300 – £1,000 average per m2 ) to pay a professional landscaper or gardener to build this type of garden.

What else will impact the cost of my sensory garden?

Difficulty of the build. This is often overlooked but can have a significant impact on costs. Questions to think about include: will there be a lot of preparation before you can start for example removal of non-reusables; is it easy to access for deliveries; are there lots of restrictions on when you can and can’t do the building work?

Phases. Sometimes gardens can be created in phases, and this can be very helpful to help spread the cost over a few seasons. However, it is really important to have an overall plan for the garden and discuss with the landscape contractor how to build it in phases. Decide which elements are essential to do first, and what can be added later. Bear in mind that you don’t want to spoil the first phase whilst you build the second or third phases!

The content of your garden will make a big difference to the final build cost and the ongoing maintenance, and some things cost a lot more than others. The most important thing to remember is high quality is important, and often it’s better to choose a smaller or simpler project that delivers high quality than to try and stretch the money to include more features, but then not have enough to construct them well.

Sensory gardens and improvements don't have to be expensive

Whatever your budget there will be a type of sensory enrichment to suit. You don’t need a big budget and a complete re-design to make a difference (although of course, that’s great if you can!) You can still achieve sensory additions for a much lower cost. For example, making raised beds full of edibles is relatively low cost (a few hundred pounds) and growing plants like sweet peas and runner beans from seed on a simple climbing frame can cost as little as tens of pounds.

Finally, ensuring you create accessible and long-lasting features is however very important; you don’t want to be repairing everything after a couple of years.

Do you want more advice on your sensory garden project? We offer a range of consultancy packages from a one hour phone call to a full concept plan.