Helen designs individual gardens of beauty and elegance ranging from contemporary urban spaces to landscaped country homes.


I trained at The Garden Design School, one of the foremost providers of specialist training courses in garden design in the UK, in order to realize my ambition to run my own garden design business. I received my first commission whilst completing the course with distinctions in all my final projects.

After graduating from University my earlier career took me from Leeds to London and then finally working for the National Trust based at Polesden Lacey as a Human Resources Manager. It was here I was lucky enough to be able to explore many beautiful gardens and discover some of the most inspiring landscapes of the south of England.

I have been practising since 2008 and my projects have ranged from small city gardens to extensive plots set deep in the Surrey Hills and abroad to France.

I work very closely with all my clients to create elegant and practical gardens to meet your needs and budget. I like to keep things simple and natural .I want you to feel that the garden is your space, somewhere a little bit special to enjoy and unwind.

Based in the Surrey Hills near Dorking, I am friendly, professional and can offer a flexible service according to your needs.

How I Work


Whether you know exactly what you are looking for or are struggling to come up with a vision, I will try and work out the best solutions for you.

At each point in the design process I will be very clear about design fees and give you guidance on construction costs and timescales.

The Brief

First of all I like to meet with you to discuss what you are looking for and what is /is not working for you now. Then we will assess everything you already have in your garden and look at what we can keep and the things that could benefit from significant change.

The Survey

Following on from this I will draw up an accurate measured survey identifying all the elements, dimensions and levels of the garden.

The Garden Plan

Pulling together the brief and the survey I will then draw a scaled outline plan accompanied by 3Dsketches showing all the aspects of the redesign. Overlaying this on the survey will help you to visualize the spaces. All my drawings are completed by hand as this allows me to hone the design to the   unique qualities of every garden.

Planting Plan

Although we might have agreed earlier on the structural content of the garden I can also put together a planting plan detailing all the plants that will give the garden its special character.

The Construction

Once you have agreed on the garden design we can work on the details of the construction of the garden.  I can help you find a suitable landscaper to build the garden and provide construction drawings of all the built elements such as steps, walls, pergolas, ponds, patios etc. We can agree on materials and timeframes.

Project Management

Until the garden is built it will remain only a dream. Careful setting out is vital in order that the garden is built exactly as you want it and as has been planned. I will work closely with the landscaper at the beginning of the construction to help translate the paper drawings into real structures on site and thereafter check the progress regularly and deal with any issues arising.

Not all of the above might be required depending on the scale of the project and I can advise you accordingly. For some gardens, the whole process from initial call to completion can be a matter of months, for others much longer.

I have been working with several clients over a period of years as we have broken up the implementation of the overall plan into a series of smaller projects. Working with a master plan however ensures that every feature is integrated into the overall design.



Garden designer Helen Thomas succeeded in her desire to create a space that would sit within the wider landscape when she began working on her own garden in Surrey

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Helen Thomas's Inspirational Surrey Garden proves seasonal value of often under-appreciated heathers

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Hazel and Spencer - 15.03.19

Helen was a joy to work with from start to finish, always going the extra mile to get the job done to a fantastic standard. Helen was able to quickly get a very good sense of what we wanted and her proposed plan needed no alterations at all. The garden provides low maintenance colour and interest all year round which is exactly what we wanted due to a lack of our own green fingers - a recent visitor commented that it looked like a National Trust garden! Helen also oversaw purchase and planting of the plants, provided a comprehensive information and upkeep folder and has returned several times to carry out a health check. We couldn't be happier with the result and highly recommend Helen's services.

Elizabeth and Richard Badman - 06.07.19

You have created a garden for us which not only meets our needs but will also produce a stunning layout.

Garden is now finished and we are very very pleased with it. The gravel area and posts and ropes really set it off and when sitting there you feel like you are in a separate room.
Thanks for your fantastic design

Martin Johnson AA Dipl. - 27.06.19

I have known Helen for many years now - and have worked with her on several large projects. Apart from her brilliantly sympathetic designs - of both 'hard' and 'soft garden landscaping she also takes responsibility for organising and undertaking both aspects of the work. The contractors she instructs for both aspects of the landscape work are terrific - flexible and very helpful.

Helen's involvement and supervision at all stages of the work, is very thorough - and in my opinion second to none. Our mutual clients are always delighted!


For enquiries please contact Helen:

t. 01306 741081
m. 07771 962221
e. helen@helenthomasdesign.co.uk

Surrey Hills Garden

The challenge here was to create a garden to complete a project to sympathetically enhance the exterior of the property .The clients had a vision of an arts and craft style design composing of different spaces to be viewed from the expansive kitchen windows with seating areas for drinks and dining whilst also crucially linking access routes between the house, drive, shed and annex. Stone paths are linked together via a circular focal point of setts and Chelmer Valley Cottage Garden bricks. Generous herbaceous planting pockets with Pittosporum balls for structure will soon billow over the paths to soften the scheme. In addition a new woodland garden was created to draw the eye and encourage further exploration.

Woodland Walk

Sometimes an existing garden has an area that has been forgotten or left untouched for some time. This can sometimes provide an opportunity to introduce a new perspective to the garden whilst still retaining an atmosphere of mystery and wilderness and preserving all the habitats for wildlife.

The meadow grass was left to grow long in the summer allowing wildflowers to grow and an abundance of bulbs and woodland edge plants were positioned where the dappled sunlight falls in the spring. A pond was also built to encourage wildlife. A simple woodland walk was created by introducing sweeping mown grass paths and wood and bark steps , punctuated by simple curved oak benches.

Reigate Hill

This garden provided a number of challenges not least the drop in height from the top of the garden to the house. Being mindful of their advancing years and reduced mobility the clients needed a garden that had usable levels, sufficient space to comfortably entertain family and friends at the ground level and screening from a neighbouring newly built property. We used beautiful buff sawn York stone for the patio and wide curved steps leading up to all the levels with complimentary setts on the gentle ramp providing access to the intermediate level and lawn.

Using curved brick retaining walls we created a garden theatre with yew hedging, flowering shrubs and brightly stemmed Acers as a dramatic backdrop. The pleached hornbeam trees along the boundary provided the perfect side screen. All the planting needed to be very easy to maintain and to work all year round so we used flowering shrubs including Nandina domestica and Rhododendron Percy Wiseman, and an abundance of ground cover to reduce the amount of weeding required.

Meadow Close

This young couple had just moved into their dream house, recently constructed by property developers, in a small but charming plot. With only a new boundary fence, lawn and inappropriately placed large shed in the garden there was plenty of scope to design a more imaginative space for their gardening skills to flourish. We created a mini woodland walk flanked by Crataegus Paul’s Scarlett to afford some privacy from the overlooking houses, whilst also providing a haven for wildlife and a journey to the fire pit for the late summer evenings.

By re- positioning the shed and reshaping the lawn we were able to draw the eye to the glimpse of the hills beyond. A circular seating area near the conservatory accessed by a stepping stone path through a gravel garden allowed sufficient room for entertaining in the sunniest part of the garden.

A Cut Flower and Vegetable garden

Always popular is a space to grow vegetables, herbs and cut flowers. In order to thrive this needs to be situated in the sunniest part of the garden and if possible close to the house. With wide gravel paths flowing through the garden to allow access all around the cut flower beds and raised vegetable beds this area doubles up as a sunny and relaxing place to sit.

Surrounded by Espalier apple trees and bordered with low lavender hedging the different areas can be used for growing all your favourites.

Willow Walk

With children having flown the nest this client had an opportunity to beautifully renovate and extend this substantial house, set in one of the most picturesque and romantic villages in Surrey. The client wanted to create an intimate secluded garden in order to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day. At the rear of the house there was an old courtyard with outbuildings, which, although somewhat neglected, retained much of the property’s character with unusual black cobbles. We used these cobbles to create a new courtyard allowing access to the outbuildings and added a small seating area to enjoy an early morning coffee in the sun, all softened with planting. In the front garden we created a secluded gravel garden with a curved path taking you on a journey from the patio doors through the interlocking circular spaces. Local blacksmiths designed ironwork structures throughout the garden to add height and screening and these were planted with scented climbing roses that will eventually clothe the seating areas and arch over the garden gate.

Hill Farm

Hill Farm was originally two humble cottages built for the farm workers. The house sits in the middle of a two-acre plot with views over the Surrey Hills. The surrounding land consisted of mostly meadows, a small orchard and some large mature trees but with no structure. After several years of work a garden has emerged, retaining all these features and the intrinsic nature of the site. By using trees, hedging and planting beds on the steeper slopes, distinct garden areas have been created, including a wildlife pond, which are all connected with natural pathways to complete a journey around the garden.

Garden Cottage

The Garden Cottage sits on a steeply graded plot with extensive views over the Pippbrook Valley to Ranmore .The original garden had a wonderful weathered feel to it with crumbling walls and well stocked beds. However the existing patio provided very awkward sitting areas, much of the views were obscured by built structures and the client wanted more colour in the garden throughout the whole year. With careful reshaping of the patio and using materials sympathetic to the original site we were able to create new inviting seating areas where now the church on the distant horizon can be seen on Ranmore. Working with the existing contours and framing these areas with soft planting, shrubs and bulbs to bring interest throughout the year, the views from the garden have been enhanced.

Brockham Lane

Box Hill

Lying at the foothills of Box Hill the existing level rectangular plot, whilst providing some space for a young family to run around in, lacked interest to stimulate young imaginations. The inherited patio was also in urgent need of attention. We created a wooden deck across the back of the house with a separate dining area and room for the children to play. The sweeping timber steps now lead you into the garden where a pergola walkway guides you towards a grassy mound. Winding brick paths were built around the garden on which the children can ride their bikes. A small wildflower meadow and orchard with cherry and fruit trees offers a secluded spot for the tree house and a silver birch glade was used to conceal the swings and slide area. The side of the workshop provides a save haven for habitat boxes and allows shelter for a small vegetable plot. As the family grow up all these spaces can work in different ways whilst still retaining the structure of the flowing lines.

The Barn

This stunning oak timbered barn conversion shares features with an existing dwelling of different character. It was important to bring harmony to the whole property. Where possible as many of the original materials were to be reused including, old millstones and soil taken from leveling some of the garden.

York stone lifted from redundant pathways were used in different ways to create a new terrace encircling the barn and allowing for a generous dining space and a smaller occasional sitting area. York stone steps leading to a series of circular platforms linked by a gravel garden provide the perfect link between the dwellings and the shared drive. Large rocks found on site were used to help retain the generous shrub border on the bank and rhododendrons and acers provide a suitable setting for a gently sloping access route along the side of the garden.