How Much Should I Charge per Hour? Calculate your hourly rate based on facts not fiction

It always amazes me that at this time of year students coming to the end of  their design courses have little or no idea how much to charge

Coins and plant, isolated on white backgroundSure, there are fee scales out there, but even these are not explained in sufficient detail.

The whole question of how much to charge per hour is actually quite simple to calculate, and even if you have been in business for years, it is still an interesting exercise to calculate an hourly rated based on an end figure for gross profit, for example:

Aspirational salary =£/$30,000.00

Estimated Overheads:
Secretarial £1,000.00
Training £750.00
Insurances £730.00
Repairs/maintenance £450.00
Printing, postage, stationary £2,290.00
Advertising £631.00
Telephone £1,080.00
Motor running expenses £2,400.00
Travelling expenses £57.00
Entertaining £354.00
Legal fees £400.00
Accountant fees £1,200.00
Bank charges £750.00
Subscriptions £335.00

Required Turnover     £/$42,427.00

Working 8 hours per day, 5 days a week, 45 weeks a year, there are 1800 hours a year. Chargeable % of hours is likely to be between 30 and 60%, say 40%.

£42,000 ÷ (1800 x 40%) = £58.33/hr

This assumes a constant workload. It is very difficult to achieve a constant work ethic and a chargeable % at 40%. Inevitably weekends, late nights supplement the equation.

The hourly rate charged depends entirely on personal choice. It may be necessary to “buy work” initially, however when you become internationally sought after you can charge accordingly.

You may well find that you have to charge at least £/$60.00/hr to be profitable.

But what ever happens don’t undersell yourself.


Carol’s Garden of the Month: Rousham Oxfordshire

It was a glorious Spring Day and on a whim as we were passing , we stopped at Rousham for what was only our second visit and I fell in love!

My first visit should have been perfect, it was 3 years ago a magical summers evening and the owners had kindly allowed us a private visit with our students from the Oxford College of Garden Design so around 20 of us strolled and explored to our hearts content but I came away having had an enjoyable time of course, but I hadn't found its magic and felt a little cheated though many others had.

This time the two of us strolled gently down towards the river with the house (which in my opinion is just the right size grand but not a huge pile) behind us and followed the meandering path with the green sward in front of us, studded everywhere with tiny primroses and primulas of the palest yellows and mauve.
With the trees burgeoning green, we occasionally passed couples picnicking in cosy spots and chatting in muted tones with one large group group of students, perfectly placed I am not sure if by accident or by design, sprawled elegantly across the grass quietly enjoying each others company in the perfect setting.

We eventually reached the start of the rill and followed its meandering path down through the woods and to the lily pond beyond where we stopped ourselves for a while to lap up the bucolic atmosphere.

Back then towards the house and the perfectly striped lawns and on into the Walled Garden which at first sight had little to offer, but promise and potential of things to come has its own attraction as far as I am concerned and then a nice surprise in the form of an arched pathway through the middle of the space under planted with clouds of blue forget me knots and soft pink tulips - lovely!

Into the garden with the huge old dovecote and topiary and again this wonderful sense of peace and that you are not in a public space but an interloper in a very private garden-  delicious!  Everywhere there are seats inviting you to linger a while and in the warm spring sunshine with the espaliered fruit trees and Cornus Mas in bloom  it is lovely to stop and watch the white doves tooing-&- froing completing the picture.

As we leave stopping to admire the amazing old trees just in front of the house and the antics of the posh fluffy legged bantams that preside over the space we smile and thank the lady at the entrance saying we felt like we had the garden all to ourselves, she smiled and told us there were around 70 other visitors that day - you would never have guessed!

A lovely experience leaving you feeling calm but stimulated at the same time so very much nicer than visiting some of the bigger stately homes and gardens where you share the space with coaches, numerous instructional signs (where did keep off the grass ever belong in this situation?) dubious gift shops crowded noisy tea rooms and out of control bored children!

The only facilities at Rousham are the loos and you cannot take young children but it is so welcoming - choose your day ,take a picnic that does the venue justice ( a pork pie and a packet of crisps just won't cut it here) choose your spot and add to the artistry of the space for a while!  See you there!


Students Win Garden Design Competition at the Southport Flower Show

Oxford College of Garden Design


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It has just been announced that students from the Oxford College of Garden Design have won the prestigious 2010 Student Garden Design Competition of the Southport Flower Show, to be held from 19 to 22 August in Merseyside. Alexandra Lehne and Lea Maravic (shown above) are currently studying for the postgraduate level Diploma in Residential Garden Design at the Oxford College of Garden Design.

Alexandra and Lea have won a £6,000 commission to build their winning design at the show and received excellent feedback on their garden, which the organisers have described as “one of the best entries ever submitted into the competition!”


Download full plans and details here

The brief was to design a garden based on the Show’s theme of “Coast”, in a 6m x 6m square plot and Alex and Lea’s winning submission included a detailed scale plan, planting plan, scale drawings and illustration (as per example above).

The postgraduate level Diploma in Residential Garden Design offered by the Oxford College of Garden Design is widely regarded as one of the leading garden design courses in the world. Held at St Hugh’s College Oxford, which is set in 14 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens, applications are currently being taken for the next 1 year fast-track course which starts on 30th September 2010. The world’s first interactive online garden design course has also been launched by the College to run alongside the full time course. To find out more visit: or telephone 01491 628950 for further information.

Oxford College of Garden Design

The College was set up by Duncan Heather in 1992 and has attracted students from around the world, including America, New Zealand and Japan, as well as the UK. Duncan Heather is one of Europe’s foremost garden designers. Duncan was trained by Britain’s best-loved octogenarian designer and garden writer, John Brookes OBE, whom many regard as one of the world’s top garden designers of the 20th Century. In a career now spanning over 30 years, Duncan has won five gold medals, one silver, one bronze and three awards for innovative design.



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