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Old 02.08.2015, 20:11
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Landscape gardener - when & how much?

We're looking to get some support on laying out a garden in Mannedorf (i.e. landscape design and advising on plants). We would prefer a more 'natural' look e.g. incorporating native species, herbs, vegetables and fruits. A few questions:
- When is the best year to start such a gardening endeavour?
- How much does this usually cost and can we get some ideas before committing to the work?
Advice, suggestions & recommendations most welcome!
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Old 02.08.2015, 20:19
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

Autumn is always best for major work. No idea about Zuri prices- I'm afraid, but well done with your plans for a natural, mixed planting look.
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Old 03.08.2015, 08:26
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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Autumn is always best for major work. No idea about Zuri prices- I'm afraid, but well done with your plans for a natural, mixed planting look.
In terms of price think many many many thousands!!

For work on site a "team" (1 gardener + 2 juniors/labourer types) of gardeners will be around the 2k mark including machinery. To that you'll need to add in the cost of plants - if you want an instant impact estimate on 200-500 per plant - more mature ones can be upwards of 5k!!

Before you go into any discussions with a company you need to have some ideas yourself - put together your ideas thinking:
1) Hard landscaping - this includes fencing (budget upto 1k per m for high quality wood fenceing that offers visual protection inc labour), retaining walls (concrete, wood, other), paving (to link areas), terracing (block paving, slabs, decking)

2) Garden use - childrens area? fruit and veg? lawn?

3) Planting - how much privacy do you want? How open do you want it? Pull together plants you like etc

4) Garden size/layout/gradient - this will not only dictate the amount of planting (and hence cost) but also the number of areas you will want need.

5) Maintenance - beware - a beautiful garden takes a lot of time/effort to keep looking beautiful. Do not underestimate how long it will take a week or season. A concrete lined granite chip path may look crisp and clean the day it is layed but will you be happy when the beautiful fir tree above drops needles on it?
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Old 23.08.2015, 16:43
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

Thanks a lot!
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Old 23.08.2015, 16:43
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

And... any recommendation on companies / people to use?
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Old 23.08.2015, 16:59
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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And... any recommendation on companies / people to use?
When a garden is professionally overhauled, the landscaping company will usually (if they have any sense) put up a board near the pavement or road for a few weeks or months stating their contact details.

Have a nosey walk around your area and look for any gardens that have been landscapes then see who did it if you like the look.

Even doing it yourself could cost several thousand.
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Old 23.08.2015, 18:01
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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Even doing it yourself could cost several thousand.
Could?? Will - most definitely will. Mature planting costs a lot - even something small will cost 50chf a plant.
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Old 23.08.2015, 20:40
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

You can certainly get a quotation, but be aware if you ask for plans and don't take up the offer you may well be landed with a bill for the work done. We were quoted CHF500 for plans if we rejected the offer...
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Old 23.08.2015, 21:10
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

I have recently put a project for my garden in the City Hall (still waiting on that answer, though... right now canton Zürich is so back on the construction permits my little garden is still waiting for an answer for the last 3 months ).

The difference is that I made the plans myself - exactly which plants, exactly what to build, exactly which areas. This means I can cut on the price because I do not need a planer. If you need a planer, you will need to consider that into your accounts, and will probably want to take an experienced landscape gardener/architect instead of just a garden center.

I got offers from the following companies (I worked with them all in other porjects, and they are very good. They are, however, on the pricey side because they take care of everything, from electricity to temporary toilets for the workers):

http://www.fritschi-gartenbau.ch/index.phtml
http://eglistaefa.ch/
http://www.toller.ch/
http://www.hausergaerten.ch/de/

They work the whole Goldküste.

You should consider companies that are closer to you. You might be able to find cheaper prices from people more far away, but you will end up paying the way to you, which is not cheap.

I do not know what you want to do, but doing a garden is not cheap. Plants and workers can be very costly.

Good luck
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Old 23.08.2015, 21:17
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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The difference is that I made the plans myself - exactly which plants, exactly what to build, exactly which areas. This means I can cut on the price because I do not need a planer. If you need a planer, you will need to consider that into your accounts, and will probably want to take an experienced landscape gardener/architect instead of just a garden center.
I did our (small) front garden myself - including plans and material calculations.

Apart from hiring a crane lorry to deliver some materials and take away some refuse, I did all the manual work myself.

I still managed to spend 7500 CHF.
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Old 23.08.2015, 21:25
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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I did all the manual work myself.
Well, fingers crossed that the project gets approved by the city chamber, but I wouldn't be able to do it myself I'm building a granite wall with huge blocks... Those things can kill someone :P

I did part of my garden myself last year, which was fun (specially seeing how all the plants grew beautifully this year), but big earth changes and stones are a big no no for my back (and my pregnant belly... )...
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Old 23.08.2015, 21:44
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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You can certainly get a quotation, but be aware if you ask for plans and don't take up the offer you may well be landed with a bill for the work done. We were quoted CHF500 for plans if we rejected the offer...
Same for me. They gave us some conceptual renderings and quote, which we rejected, but still paid for their concept and pretty drawing.

By the way, one thing that saved me a tremendous amount of money is in planning and laying down the electrical conduits. I bought a couple of hundred meters of conduit tubing. As they were digging up the garden, I laid the conduits everywhere i imagined I would need lighting or an electrical outlet. I went overboard. When it was covered over, I then pulled cabling through them myself. I think I spent a couple of hundred CHF for what would otherwise have been thousands of CHFs.

Last edited by Phos; 23.08.2015 at 22:23. Reason: spelling
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Old 23.08.2015, 22:00
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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By the way, one thing that saved me a tremendous amount of money is in planning and laying down the electrical conduits. I bought a couple of hundred meters of conduit tubing. As they were digging up the garden, I layer the conduits everywhere i imagined I would need lighting or an electrical outlet. I went overboard. When it was covered over, I then pulled cabling through them myself. I think I spent a couple of hundred CHF for what would otherwise be thousands of CHFs.
I did that too! It's a good idea.
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Old 24.08.2015, 08:00
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

We've just replaced a 24m fence for around 3,000chf (materials/tools only). The 2 of us have spent pretty most of our free time in the last 3 weeks building it. The end result looks "proper", includes a flush fitting "stealth" gate, hardwood posts and rails and alpine pine (double stained) paneling.

A quote for a fence of a slightly lower spec came in at 20,000chf

Hard landscaping (fences, walls, retaining walls, terraces and decking) cost a lot of money because of the labour cost (see above) but if you don't have the skills to do the work yourself you'll need to make sure you can earn the money!!

Remember as well that gardens evolve - and that it can take 2-5 years for it to look as you imagined dependent on the weather and the maturity of the plants you put in.
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Old 24.08.2015, 13:44
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

+1 for all replies.

And for my addition - we had a company in to do most of the work; we got a full quote of them and ticked-off the items we'd do ourselves. This seemed OK, but we got the feeling he wasn't too happy (judging by the quality of some work and the fact our contract seemed to be below the bottom of the priority list). Perhaps we'd ticked-off the high-margin items..

Anyway, one item to consider. Our neighbours are very fussy and picky about what's on the border, fence and plant-wise. The gardener basically refused to get involved in such areas, unless there is absolute 100% agreement between the neighbours. I guess he's been 'stuck in the middle' before. So, best to discuss plans with the neighbours before, and get their buy-in.

As always, the price vs quality/quantity ratio may not be so good. It's astonishing what they charge for seemingly basic work.. 100CHF per hour very, very quickly adds up.. And also check the invoices and timesheets very carefully. Our gardener made invoicing mistakes in excess of 10% (2500CHF).. These (some of which were blindingly obvious) were removed instantly without any argument (the same happened with other unrelated trades too - the mistakes were certainly not insignificant and again, in all cases, quickly removed without any argument.) Makes you wonder....
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Old 24.08.2015, 13:57
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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+1 for all replies.

And for my addition - we had a company in to do most of the work; we got a full quote of them and ticked-off the items we'd do ourselves. This seemed OK, but we got the feeling he wasn't too happy (judging by the quality of some work and the fact our contract seemed to be below the bottom of the priority list). Perhaps we'd ticked-off the high-margin items..

Anyway, one item to consider. Our neighbours are very fussy and picky about what's on the border, fence and plant-wise. The gardener basically refused to get involved in such areas, unless there is absolute 100% agreement between the neighbours. I guess he's been 'stuck in the middle' before. So, best to discuss plans with the neighbours before, and get their buy-in.

As always, the price vs quality/quantity ratio may not be so good. It's astonishing what they charge for seemingly basic work.. 100CHF per hour very, very quickly adds up.. And also check the invoices and timesheets very carefully. Our gardener made invoicing mistakes in excess of 10% (2500CHF).. These (some of which were blindingly obvious) were removed instantly without any argument (the same happened with other unrelated trades too - the mistakes were certainly not insignificant and again, in all cases, quickly removed without any argument.) Makes you wonder....
From what I was told, any changes to the height of the land of more than 1 to 1.5 meter may require permission from the Bauamt. Other than that, what you put on as fencing and what plants you plant are at your discretion. I understand you can build a 5 meter high wall if you choose to. But check with your Bauamt.

Also, someone told me an anecdote of using railroad ties as steps and dividers. The neighbours complained and he had to remove them because they are environmentally toxic.

I recommend discussing with the Bauamt to understand the limits of your rights and responsibilities, if you are not sure. Personally, I don't let my neighbours decide what I do with mine.
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Old 24.08.2015, 14:08
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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Also, someone told me an anecdote of using railroad ties as steps and dividers. The neighbours complained and he had to remove them because they are environmentally toxic.
Illegal to sell them since 2001 - unless sold for their original purpose. There are hundreds of thousands of them in gardens across Switzerland. The "advice" is to remove them - but that is where I have a problem. Chances are they were put in 20++ years ago - and so the amount of creosoate remaining will be low - based on 30-50 years use on the railways + 20++ in gardens. The biggest problem facing owners now is that they cost around 250chf per ton to actually dispose of but a lot more to dig out - which many now need to be as they were places in vertically as retaining walls.

The toxic compounds are released when burned which is what happens when they are disposed of! And replacing with concrete has its own envrionmental problems. In fact the cradle to grave environmental cost of a creosote sleeper vs concrete is neglible.

The general advice is don't inhale the dust, don't rub your body against them and don't eat them.
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Old 24.08.2015, 20:54
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

I have had dealings with Marcel Egli from Stafa, I found him good to work with and his English is good. Price wise I can't comment but about average for the area.
Most people here are not hands on so companies provide a service so there is no chance of failure so they carry no risk. Any hands on you do will save you money, in your instance I would spend some time researching plants and doing a basic plan. Plant research is walking around the area, take a photo of what looks good and work out what plant it is. You then have an advanced starting point for discussion, sure it will change but it saves time and money.
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Old 24.08.2015, 21:30
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

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From what I was told, any changes to the height of the land of more than 1 to 1.5 meter may require permission from the Bauamt. Other than that, what you put on as fencing and what plants you plant are at your discretion. I understand you can build a 5 meter high wall if you choose to. But check with your Bauamt
Ok, I just saw this one, and had to comment...

Changes on a garden depend from Canton to Canton (what doesn't?). For example, I had to enter my garden project in the Gemeinde because I intend to build a wall that is about 80-100 cm tall (Kanton Zürich). However, if I would do the same thing in St. Gallen, I could build a wall as tall as 1,80 m without a permit.

Changes in the terrain depend not only on the Canton, but on the Gemeinde itself. For example, in some parts of the city center of Zürich you are only allowed to make minimal changes (read max. 20 cm) to the pre-existing terrain, unless it's to create an entrance to a garage or underground floor. In Eschenbach, on the other hand, you can change it with some freedom. In Wald you can't change it over 1 meter. Also, in most places, the terrain next to the border of your terrain must stay the same for the first 50 cm.

The plants you can put on the border might need a permit: bamboos are not allowed in some cities within X meters of the border. Kanton Zürich will allow bushes (or bush-like trees like Thujas) on the border, but won't allow trees. As long as the plants are according to the law, no neighbour can complain.

Also, in the comical way that Zürich tends to work, the material of the walls on the border need to be approved. I had a project in which we used a willow wall turning into a thuja wall - planned was 30 meters of willow, ended up 33 meters because of aesthetic reasons. Those extra 3 meters? We had to pay a fine and enter a change in the project in the city hall...

Building in this country can be very tricky
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Old 25.08.2015, 07:05
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Re: Landscape gardener - when & how much?

Another comment about choosing a gardening firm:

While you likely will have to pay for quotations if you do not use the firm in the end - anywhere from CHF 500 to 1500 each - you would nonetheless be wise to get quotes from several different firms. The cost variation can be huge - choose the wrong firm and you can end up overpaying by an eye-watering amount.

To give you an example, quotes for our project ranged from the low 5 figures to mid 6 figures. And this for a small garden. That's a huge price difference!

Beware that some - perhaps many - garden firms are actually 'outside living space building firms', plantsmanship is not their focus. Hence you see so many rock gardens with three spirea stuck in the middle rather than plant-filled gardens.

If what you are after is a garden full of plants, and if you have even a slightly green-ish thumb - perhaps consider having a someone do the hardscaping for you and then do the planting, including sourcing your plants, and maintenance yourself. The plant that a landscape firm will charge you CHF 50-100 for can often be bought at a garden center for CHF 5-10. Not to mention, the fun of a garden is in the planting...

This is what we did in the end - we found a contractor who could do the hardscaping that was too heavy or specialized for us, and then we did all the planting. And saved a significant amount over even the lowest quote from a gardening firm.

And finally a money saving tip:

I wanted to terrace the slope leading out from my patio with granite to make an herb garden, planting in-between the granite walls. But the typical granite blocks you see here would have taken up three to four times the space, planting space I couldn't afford to lose in this small garden. So instead of blocks I used granite Stelen. Same effect but a fraction of the price, and I have more room to plant. A bonus - building this way did not reqire bringing a crane into the garden itself to do the placement - one less permit, one less potential stumbling block with the neighbors, less damage to the access area.

The person who came up with this solution was not the landscaping firm - they all wanted to use granite block - but the gentleman at the quarry. As you do your preliminary planning go directly to the source, talk to the folks who sell the materials. They often have practical ideas.

Good luck with your project!
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