How to hire the right landscape designer for your garden

If you’re reading this, you understand what a magical place a garden can be. Where some see little more than a patch of of fenced-in lawn with a shed at one end, you see possibility.

It’s a safe place for your kids to play, somewhere you can relax on a sunny afternoon, a party venue and loads more besides. All you need is the right pro to make your garden dreams a reality.

A quality landscaper will help you create the garden of your dreams. But, for many people, finding someone you can trust to get the job done right is easier said than done.

Well, that ends today. Here at Bark, we believe finding skilled local landscape designers online should be quick and easy. So right now, we’re going to show you how to find the right pro you.

How to work out your budget

Before we get started, let’s talk price. A good landscaper will usually tailor their plans to fit your budget, but there are a couple of factors that might affect their quote.

For one thing, if your garden sits on difficult terrain, you may need to pay more to get the end result you’re looking for. As one of our pros told us recently, it’s a lot harder to turf a sloping lawn than a flat one.

But, to help you work out a ballpark figure, we’ve created a handy tool to show you what fixing up your garden is likely to cost. We call it the Budget Estimator, and how it works is simple.

When you place a Bark on our site, it shows you a summary of what people with similar requirements are usually quoted. This should give you a ‘rough and ready’ idea of what a realistic budget is for your project.

What to look for in a landscape gardener

With the question of what your project is likely to cost out of the way, it’s time to start comparing quotes – and that’s what we do best.

From the moment you place your Bark, we’ll start contacting skilled landscapers in your area, and you’ll often start receiving quotes within a couple of hours.

Everyone you hear from will be ready and available to renovate your garden, so all that’s left is for you to choose your favourite. Here’s a few things to think about when making your decision:

  • Do they have a solid reputation?

Reviews are a great way to gauge what to expect from a landscaper, which is why we assign our pros ‘star ratings’ based on how previous customers felt about their work.

Be sure to take a look at each pro’s Bark profile and website to see what people have been saying about them.

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  • What’s their portfolio like?

A smart company will only post their best work online, so don’t be surprised if every landscaper you find has a great portfolio.

But having said that, they’re still well worth looking at to get a feel for the kind of work each pro normally does. Check to see if they’ve done the sort of thing you’re looking for in the past and made a good job of it.

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  • Are you looking for specialization?

Many landscaping companies have teams of specialists to help with the different aspects of your project.

It can work out cheaper to hire individuals for each task separately, but generally people prefer the convenience of having one firm that can handle everything for them.

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  • Do they have local experience?

When it comes to gardening services, local businesses have a real edge. They know which plants are most likely to thrive in your specific microclimate and they’re familiar with local laws and regulations.

That’s why we believe it pays to find someone with local experience to fix up your garden, rather than going to a major chain.

Get landscaping quotes now

When you find someone you like the look of, invite them round to take a look at your garden and give you an estimate. Most landscapers will provide free consultations, and it’s a great opportunity to ask a final few questions to iron out the important details:

How many years’ experience do they have? Are they fully insured? Are they certified by a UK Trade Association? What’s the breakdown of their quote? And does their work come with a guarantee?

Once you’re satisfied you’ve found the right pro, all that’s left is to get a written contract of works and get the ball rolling – job done!

Get FREE landscaping quotes today

Now you’ve seen how easy it can be to hire a landscaper with Bark, it’s time to get you the garden on your dreams.

Remember, we do all the legwork for you to find the best landscapers in your area, and send personalised estimates direct to your inbox. Simply click the link below to find skilled landscapers in your area today.

Find a great landscaper with Bark today.

How to pick the perfect photo booth for your party, wedding or corporate event

Photo booths are the ultimate alternative to hiring a traditional photographer.  Whatever event you’re planning, your guests will love piling inside and drawing the curtain to take a few cheeky pictures.

At weddings and anniversaries, they’re a great way to capture group photos without needing to call the party to a halt while everyone gets in position – and they’re the perfect icebreaker at corporate or work events where your guests might not know each other very well.

But with so many different types available, choosing the right booth for your event can be tricky. So we put together this handy guide to help you make up your mind.

Why you can’t go wrong with a classic booth

You can get a whole range of booths for a fraction of what you’d spend on a professional photographer, from affordable passport photo-style boxes, to luxury enclosed booths.

Top-of-the-line booths often come complete with a green screen, live social media sharing, touchscreen displays and more – like this one from leading photo booth hire company The Photo Cabin:

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The Photo Cabin in action at the launch party for Supra’s Skytop IV trainer

A classic booth like this will add a touch of class to any party. If you want premium features, and are happy to pay a premium price to get them, then look no further.

Photo booth hire button

For great group photos, try an open air booth

For something a little different, why not try one of these ‘open air’ booths. With its tower-style camera and separate backdrop, your guests can simply gather round and strike a pose.

“The plus with these is that you can fit a hell of a lot more people in the photo, which is particularly good for weddings or corporate events,” explains The Photo Cabin’s Martyn Doherty. “Like if you want a big ‘groomsman and his mates’ photo, or if everyone at the wedding wants to try and fit in.”

Photo Tower 3
Tower-style booths like this one are perfect for taking fun group snaps!

“You can’t do that sort of thing with a normal enclosed booth,” he adds. “The only type of event it’s not great for is, like, a kids’ party, because they’re not tall enough, basically.”

As the camera is at a fixed height, these booths aren’t really designed for small children – but they’re absolutely perfect for weddings, corporate events, birthday parties and anything else.

Photo booth hire button

Save money with this “booth on a budget”

There’s also a range of cheaper booths available if your primary concern is getting a good deal. Expect fewer bells and whistles, but it’s still possible to hire a perfectly good mobile booth like this one without breaking the bank:

Photo Box 1
Affordable cabins like The Photo Box can be ideal for parties and corporate events

“That’s your booth on a budget,” says Martyn. “It’s not quite as big, so you can only really fit three people in, max. The features are more limited as well. It’s not got a touch screen.”

“It’s really quick to set up,” he adds. “You literally wheel it in. You put it down, it expands out of itself and it’s got a five-minute setup time.”

Opting for a ‘stripped down’ booth like this one is a great way to get what you need on a tight budget. So if you want to keep your costs to a minimum, we recommend asking for a mobile booth.

Photo booth hire button

Stand out from the crowd with a custom booth

Or, for something truly unique, you can even have your booth customised with a vinyl wrap or kitted out to include GIFs, slow motion videos, social media sharing, data capture and more.

One of our personal favourite custom contraptions is this cool GIF booth the guys at The Photo Cabin built into an arcade machine cabinet:

“I didn’t want to destroy an old school machine,” Martyn explains. “Taking like a vintage Pacman machine and killing it seemed wrong. So I just got a new arcade cabinet and built it into that.”

With so many different customisations available, the only real limit here is your imagination. Simply specify your requirements in your Bark and we’ll find you the right pro for the job.

Photo booth hire button

Place a photo booth hire Bark today

We hope this guide has helped you decide what sort of photo booth you want for your next party. Now you’ve seen the full range of booths on offer, you’re ready to hire one of your very own!

Whether you’re planning a wedding, corporate event or anything else – we’ll help you find the perfect booth for you. Simply let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll start contacting specialists in your area right away.

Click here to get photo booth hire quotes today.

We’re partnering with the Association of UK Accountants to help British entrepreneurs grow their businesses

Great accountants are more than just bean counters – they’re business partners, who’ll use their wealth of experience to help your small business flourish and grow. That’s why we’re proud to announce that Bark is partnering with the Association of UK Accountants.

Unlike other accounting organisations, Association members work extensively in business before going into practice. As such, they’re focused on helping clients maximise their profits using management information, rather than simply helping with tax compliance.

Chartered Accountant, Steve Bicknell
The Association’s Business Development Director, Steve Bicknell

“Our clients tend to think of us more as business partners,” explains the Association’s Business Development Director, Steve Bicknell. “Because we have actual business experience we can provide real support in areas such as funding, cash flow, business strategy, performance measurement as well as advice on tax and compliance.”

He adds: “SME’s are the lifeblood of Britain. Our members are highly trained and experienced, we enjoy helping and mentoring, and our practices are focused on small businesses.”

As one of the largest accounting communities in the UK, the Association works with over 350 accounting practices nationwide.

Since it was founded in early 2014, it has established strategic partnerships with a broad network of companies, including crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, alternative finance experts Capitalise and angel investing site Angel’s Den.

According to the Association’s latest survey, 39% of its clients have an annual turnover of less than £100,000 – which goes to show it’s never too soon to find a professional accountant to help grow your business.

What’s more, the Association’s work with Angels and crowdfunders means it can develop fundable business plans and use its network of contacts to help start-ups.

“Very few businesses have a business or even a cash flow forecast,” Steve explains. “Often they are too optimistic on sales and don’t have a contingency plan. It’s really important to make sure you have enough resources to get your business started.”

More than two thirds of Association business clients have an annual turnover below £500,000
More than two thirds of Association business clients have an annual turnover below £500,000

“Most entrepreneurs focus on sales and business development and don’t keep proper accounts,” he adds. “We have heard of shoe box accounting where at the end of the year the business owner goes to an accountant with a shoe box full of receipts. That’s no way to run a business and you can quickly lose control.”

“People turn to Bark every day to find skilled professionals to help them with everything from lawn mowing to legal representation,” says Bark cofounder Kai Feller. “We’re committed to finding the highest quality pros for our users, and this new partnership will make it even easier for us to help entrepreneurs throughout the UK find quality business accountants.”

To compare estimates from business accountants in your area – simply place a Bark using the link below and we’ll begin matching you with local pros right away.

Click here to find local business accountants today.

Ask the Expert: How to plan the perfect party

Throwing the perfect party is no piece of cake. Pull it off and your friends will be singing your praises for months after the event. But with so many things to consider, it can be tough to know where to begin.

To help you get started, we spoke with Dez Events founder, Deborah Granville. After more than 15 years in corporate and charity events, Deborah literally wrote the book on party planning – so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about throwing a great party to really “wow” your guests.

So what do you need to consider when planning your party? Well, according to Deborah, you should start by asking yourself three crucial questions – why, when and where?

“Are you having this party because you feel you should?” she says. “Or do you really want to have it because you want your friends and family around you, and you want to do things that make you and your guests happy?”

Deborah Granville planning one of her legendary parties
Deborah Granville planning one of her legendary parties

She adds: “If you know why you are having it and what you want to achieve, all the planning will flow naturally.”

It’s also important to consider if your party will clash with any other events. As Deborah says, you don’t really want to be competing with the Champion’s League final, or the season finale of Game of Thrones.

Finally, you need to make sure your venue is suitable for all your guests – so think about where it is, how people will get to it, and whether it needs disabled access or parking.

Deborah says: “There are so many amazing venues in the UK, from fancy ballrooms to under-the-arches plain spaces, so whatever your taste and budget, you’ll be able to find something to suit.”

“Just remember that an empty, ‘dry hire’ space won’t necessarily be cheaper, as it may not have the on-site facilities you need,” she adds. “And don’t forget to haggle!”

Time to get the party started

Once you’ve got your venue, you’re ready to sort out the entertainment. If you want your guests to come away having had a fabulous time it’s best to focus on what they’ll enjoy, as well as what you want.

“If some of your guests don’t know each other, help them to mingle by providing some entertainment,” Deborah suggests. “A magician, a balloon artist, or contortionist – something they can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at together.”

Simple ideas like these should break the ice and help your guests start to relax. Then, once everyone’s loosened up a little, it’s time to really get the party started.

“A live band interspersed with a DJ is always a winning combo,” says Deborah. “But always make sure you prep them with the songs you want and, sometimes more importantly, those you don’t. (Birdy Song, anyone?)

“Music is so important, because it has the power to relax as well as to energise, so having a good DJ – or even your own playlist – can make or break a party.”

And if you really want to impress…

Setting a theme can be a great way to ensure your party stands out from the many others your guests will be invited to this year and, done well, it can add a real touch of class to your event.

“Some people love themes, as once they’ve picked one, everything else falls into place,” explains Deborah. “Others don’t really know what theme, if any, they want, but as they start to think about the things they want at the party, a theme evolves.

“Here are two to get you started: A Hollywood glam theme, with soft feathers, floral detailing and pewter candelabras, where guests go to town on their outfits. Or, for something a little more pared down, a festival theme, with trestle tables and benches, wooden signs and flowers in mason jars – and ask guests to wear their wellies!”

If you do go with a festival theme, Deborah says an ice cream tricycle is a wonderful way to serve a delicious dessert and is a visual treat which helps to create that vintage atmosphere.

Or, if you’re looking for something a little classier, try letting your guests customize their Champagne cocktails with fruit purees, lavender sprigs, citrus twists and flavoured ice cubes they can spoon into their glasses.

Of course, if you really want your party to stand out from the crowd…

Why not ask our pros to help?

While planning your own event can be a lot of fun, it takes time and organisation to pull all elements of a successful party together. That’s why, for larger events, many people prefer to draft in a professional – and that’s where Bark comes in.

Whatever event planning services you need – from DJs, to marquee hire and more – we can help. Simply click the link below to place your Bark today, and we’ll find you local party planners ready to help throw the party of your dreams.

Click here to find great local party planners today.

Ask the Expert: Five essential gardening jobs to do this spring

With spring in full bloom, now is the perfect time to create the perfect space to relax with your friends and family. Getting on top of things now will make all the difference as temperatures start to rise and barbeque season gets into full swing – and that’s where Bark comes in.

To help you make the most of that neglected outside space, we asked one of our top gardening pros – Harrison Gardens founder Julian Harrison-Jones – to run you through five essential gardening jobs to do this spring.

1. Fix up your lawn

You can find hundreds of Lawn Care specialists on Bark.com
You can find hundreds of Lawn Care specialists on Bark.com

One of the main things that people think about at this time of year is Lawn Care. Weeds are coming through, the edges aren’t done and it’s starting to look overgrown.

“It’s time to start working on your lawn,” says Julian. “That means aeration, mowing, weeding and feeding. You feed the lawn twice a year, in Spring and Autumn.”

“When you’re starting to mow the lawn, because it will be the first cut of the year you should do it on a high blade,” he adds. “You’re just encouraging new, healthy growth. Don’t go crazy otherwise you’ll do damage and you might kill the lawn.”

2. Get on top of the weeding

Your lawn isn’t the only thing growing again now the winter months are behind us. Rolling up your sleeves and tackling the weeding now will mean you have a head start going into the rest of the year.

“To be honest, weeding is probably ‘number one’ because of the time of year,” says Julian. “You’ve left it over the winter, they’re coming up now and if you don’t tackle weeds now they’ll compete with shrubs and plants that you want to keep.”

“Basically, they’re all competing for nutrients and water,” he adds. “So if the weeds take over, they’ll take that away from the actual plants. As well as some weeds, like Ivy or creeping weeds, which will can strangle and kill your plants.” 

3. Choose your ‘feature’ plants

Julian planting flowers for one of his many happy clients
Julian planting flowers for one of his many happy clients

Once you’ve got the weeds under control, it’s time to think about the plants you actually want to look at.

“It’s still relatively early in the gardening year,” Julian explains. “So you can plant your ‘feature’ plants or architectural-type planting – your shrubs, the backbone of your garden.”

He adds: “If you like roses, this is the perfect time for them, as well as perineal flowers and trees.”

4. Get mulching and feeding

Mulching and feeding goes hand-in-hand with weeding and planting, but the exact type of plant food you use depends on what you’re using it for.

“It could be manure, it could be peat, it could be leaf mould or compost,” Julian explains. “If it’s roses, for example, they really like a horse manure. Whereas, in general, your shrubs prefer bark just to supress weeds and keep the heat in.

“With your lawn, it would be nitrogen. Generally, a well-balanced fertiliser containing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus in equal proportions. You can’t go too wrong with that.”

5. Repair damaged trees and fencing

Starting with storm Desmond back in December, the UK has been buffeted by a wave of severe storms over the past few months. Thankfully, the worst of it is behind us, and you can now be thinking about repairing those damaged fence panels.

“Because of the recent storms, any damage that’s been caused over the winter – fencing, staking trees – those kind of essential works can be done,” Julian explains. “That’s what took up most of January. Lots of fencing work.”

“About two weeks ago we had a job that involved a lot of staking and getting everything back into shape,” he adds. “You should have two large stakes either side of the tree, which should be tied together firmly, then the tree tied to that.”

Find a local gardening expert today

With thousands of registered gardening professionals, giving your garden a makeover in time for summer is easy with Bark.com.

Whether you’re fixing the fence, clearing away those pesky weeds, or planning a full-blown garden renovation, we can help. Simply click the link below to find gardening professionals in your area today.