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How The Internet Is Changing Garden Design

07/12/2021 - Case Studies and Inspiration

Way back when I was growing up with a busy garden designer for a Mum, things seemed different.  The internet was very new indeed and was certainly not as accessible as it is today.  There were dial up modems which were painfully slow compared to today’s standards, and for most households, you couldn’t use the internet if someone was on the phone (and vice versa).  We didn’t have laptops or tablets and the smartphone was still a twinkle in somebody’s eye. What websites there were were very simple with minimal graphics and basic navigation. I don’t remember being able to shop online either. 

All of that meant that garden design was very different to how it is today.

  • Training involved face to face tutorials and reading lots of books.
  • Inspiration came from RHS shows, magazines and visits to open gardens.
  • Product knowledge came from course tutors, trade shows, company representatives and printed brochures. It was mainly available during office hours.
  • Site photos had to be taken with a polaroid camera or snapped with an old-fashioned camera and taken to the chemist to be developed.
  • There were no video calls - communication was either by telephone or face to face
  • Design Software consisted of a ruler, a set of pens and a big piece of paper. If you made a mistake, you had to rub it out and start again.
  • Business promotion came through word of mouth or ads the local papers and Yellow Pages.

How Has The Internet Changed The Way We Approach Garden Design?

Better awareness of our craft.

I think that most industries - not just landscaping and garden design - can honestly say that the internet has given them the opportunity to educate the general public about their craft.  

Messrs Capability Brown and Humphrey Repton, although famous amongst the people who could afford their services, must have been virtually unknown and completely inaccessible to the general public.  These days, however, I'm sure that most people have a vague awareness of what garden designers do, and many feel that they can and should avail themselves of the service.  The garden design industry has expanded enormously - and I’m sure that the internet has been influential in that growth.

 bridge and folly in Stourhead Gardens by Capability Brown

Stourhead Gardens in Wiltshire designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.  If only more modern garden design clients had the space and the budget for projects like these.

Potential clients find it easier to compare garden designer styles.

When I step into the shoes of a potential garden design client, I can see that the internet has certainly expanded choices.  

Imagine yourself moving to a new area, with no local knowledge. Back in the day, if you wanted to hire a local garden designer, you would need to trawl through a printed directory, trying to discern from a black and white advert, whether this designer or that one would best match your style. Then you would have to make contact with each of them to narrow down your choices. It was quite labour intensive, and probably stressful for some.

Today, you can use a smartphone, tablet or pc to find out about every garden designer in the land who has some kind of digital presence.  You can see reviews, read their biography and maybe even see a portfolio of their work.  That way you can make a more informed decision.

(It's quite useful for business minded designers doing a competitor analysis too).

For the garden designer, of course, that means extra pressure to make sure that their digital presence is up to date and attractive.  If you’re not super comfortable with internet marketing, that can be a challenge, but there are plenty of people who can help you with that aspect of your business.

We have easier access to images for inspiration and to help clients to visualise aspects of their garden.

Garden design is a very visual craft - you need to be able to show your clients images of the products and features that you are suggesting for their garden.  Words are great describers but at the end of the day, it’s crucial that your clients are expecting the same garden that you are providing.

Internet tools such as Pinterest have made collating pictures so much easier.  So easy in fact, that the client can even get involved with building boards to show you what styles, features and colour schemes they prefer.

Building the Arbour Landscapes Solutions Pinterest profile is a work in progress - with 5,000+ products on our website, it’s impossible to upload them all at once, but please do take a look.  Our aim is to build this into a useful resource for garden designers and their clients.

Visit Our Pinterest Profile For Design Inspiration

It’s easy to find out about product prices and availability.

It’s not just pictures that are easier to find these days, the internet makes it easy to discover product prices and availability.  Important factors if you are to be involved in project managing or if your client is budget conscious.

If ever you need a price for standard or bespoke landscaping products, the Arbour Landscape Solutions team will be on hand to help you.  Register as a trade customer on our website for detailed information about any of the landscaping materials you see on the site.  You can even request samples with just one click.

The Internet Has Changed The Way That Garden Design Is Marketed

I’ve already touched on the subject of marketing.  Online marketing is an art in itself and it involves so much more than pictures.  Do you find that keeping your social media profile up to date is a challenge? Is SEO a minefield of confusion?  Or do you love showcasing your work, building your brand and communicating online?

One opportunity to make your work visible online, and to build valuable backlinks to your website, is to take advantage of our case study service.  All you need to do is complete a very simple questionnaire and email it to Anna along with images of your project.  We will write the text, upload the images and alert the landscape industry that it’s there to be seen.  The case studies are one of the most frequently visited areas of our website, so you can be sure of plenty of exposure.  Best of all - it’s free! And who doesn’t love a free marketing opportunity?

Take A Look At Some Of The Case Studies We Have Published So Far

What Are Your Thoughts? - Join The Discussion 

I’m very sure that some of the more experienced designers out there will have witnessed lots of changes in the market place since the inception of the internet.

I’d be fascinated to learn your thoughts.  Has the Internet made garden design easier or harder?

Join The Discussion On Our Facebook Page

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