Garden makeover - how much is reasonable?


Distinguished Member
Hello folks! It's that spring time of year, and our garden needs a full makeover. We've had a couple of quotes so far, but they've been so different that I don't really know what's reasonable anymore. So given that there are a fair few very handy people here, I figured I'd ask!
- 7 x 11m garden
- five fence panels to be replaced (incl posts), four fence panels to be replaced (panels only)
- an area about 6 x 6 needs a 2-3 inches of soil/grass removed, preparation, new topsoil, new turf
- an area about 7 x 4 needs to have a fair amount of ground / concrete walls (about 30cm high) / old shed concrete base removed; this will then have decking built on it (weed membrane, shingle or hardcore/concrete mix, slightly raised off the ground but under 30cm total height due to planning rules, posts every 1 metres, bearers, joists etc); no balustrades or fancy designs, just a two-step entry at one end.
- concrete path to be removed (about 7m x 80cm), replaced with block paving, one manhole cover to be replaced

I reckon there's about two skips' worth of material to remove. I'm looking to have the posts sitting more dense than usual at least at one end because we'll be putting a shed on one side of the decking.

So far we've had quotes for:
- £5700 all-in
- £2800 for labour only
- £2600 for labour only

I'm trying to estimate the costs of materials, skips etc so that I can actually compare the quotes (plus, taking into account that I'd have to sort the materials myself if I go labour-only), but i'm not sure yet. I reckon:
- about £1700 for the decking area (including all materials)
- about £500 for skips (yeah, ouch..)
- about £350-£400 for topsoil, turf etc
- about £500 for fence materials (the Boss wants fancy panels - saving grace is that we already have most of this already sitting in the garden, waiting to go)
- about £150 for block paving materials
- £300 contingency/things I'm bound to forget (sand, gravel, etc)
Materials total: £3550 or less, hopefully.

So looking at my rough estimate materials cost, the all-in cost looks like a bargain, but I really don't now how realistic all this is.

Appreciate any help, as usual!


Distinguished Member
Any info on how many man-days or day-rates for the quotes?

I'd say if the garden is 7m x 11m then it's reasonable for an all-in price, which also gives you the benefit of having someone else bring in the materials and co-ordinate things. Is the all-in price based on your choice of things or tradesman's recommendation?

We're in South London and are having our garden rotated/cultivated, levelled off, new top soil and grass seed planted. It's going to cost just under £1000 for the work and the garden is 670 sq m (just the lawn part).


Distinguished Member
Thanks for the reply - no, no firm info on the man days, etc. I think the thought was 2-3 people for 3-4 days, that should be roughly right; obviously taking out the load of rubbish will take more heavy work than the rest of it.

The all in price is based on what we want done, but I wasn't specific about materials. So I guess if we want better grade wood or turf then we'd pay a little extra - though to be honest, the extra cost for better turf and better soft wood decking probably won't be a lot. I doubt we'll go for hardwood.

blue max

Distinguished Member
My reservation is that when someone quotes an all-in price, all the corners he can cut are extra profit.

I would want to see some specifications about what is intended. Certainly things like depth of foundation under any slabs etc. If he can save a skip, it will put him quids in as you have found, plus the labour cost savings of filling it.
I may also want to know what he has priced things like materials at. If you know he has allowed, say, £20m for slabs, you know the cost of upgrading it.

So often you hear of people thinking it would be one way and getting something else. Unless there is something to refer to, you really don't have any comeback.

Equally, it may help him too. You just don't want misunderstandings if you can possibly help it.

J J Carter

Active Member
Depending on location, but £5000 to £6000 seems right for a reputable contractor outside of M25. (I was quoted £10,000 for a similar sized garden, but with all the fixins')


Distinguished Member
Thanks folks, all very useful! I do have to ask for specifics on what they're going to do and put down, otherwise it's just opening it to confusion.


Distinguished Member
The quality of fence panels and posts can make quite a difference in the price as well.
True - I've actually already got the materials for the fence though, except for four panels at the back which will just be plain, ordinary panels (maybe £15 each max, for slightly better ones).


Distinguished Member
Is the decking 7m x 4m? If so £1700 sounds a lot for materials. I did my own 10x4 which is raised 1.4m off the ground so needed 2.1m lengths of 4"x4" posts, had to have proper 6"x2" floor joists too and the total was less than £1000


Distinguished Member
Thanks Steve - yes the decking is about 7x4 metres. A quick Google suggested around £60 per square metre for materials, which seemed a little high but since I have little experience I thought it might be right.

I'm guessing you also had bearers bolted onto the posts, and the joists on top of that?


Well-known Member
Having asked @NewfieDrool about hardscaping before, I know his opinion will be to contact people from the Marshalls Register as he does not do it himself.

This is what we did when we went from this:


To this:


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