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The Smart Homeowner’s Guide to Working With a Landscape Designer



When you want to redo your outdoors but lack the know-how, hiring a landscape designer will make your dream garden into a reality. But before you go into signing a contract, you should know first how to work with one.

Below are some helpful tips to guide you in working with a professional landscaper.

STEP 1 – Have a clear vision of what you want.

Not having a clear picture of what you want for your garden will make it harder to relay your ideas to the landscape designer. Do some research and find some inspiration online to be able to give a concrete indication of what you want your landscape to look like. List down your ideas and emphasize the things you won’t compromise.

You don’t have to worry if you feel like you don’t have enough ideas. A landscape designer can also propose their own design and advise you on what you’ve initially come up with. Allow some room for creativity from your landscaper, and always be open to suggestions and feedback.

STEP 2 – Set a budget.

Before you hire a professional landscape designer, it’s best to set your budget first. Knowing how much you’ll be willing to spend on the project or how much you can actually afford will save you from frustration during the process. You wouldn’t want to waste your time working on landscape plans only to find out it is way beyond your reach.

By having a target cost at hand, your landscape designer can offer creative solutions that fit your budget. You can also request a free estimate beforehand for future lawn care and maintenance after the project is finished so even this is factored in.

STEP 3 – Get references.

Now that you know what you want and already have a realistic budget, it’s time to look for your landscape designer. If you have neighbors or friends whose garden you admire, ask which professional service they use, or who helped them in the design process.

You may also browse online for a professional landscaping services and look for one with excellent customer reviews.

STEP 4 – Ask the right questions.

Once you find a landscaper who seems ideal for your needs, check out his or her portfolio. This way, you’ll have an idea of the extent of your landscape designer’s capabilities.

Here are some questions you should ask your landscape designer to assess his or her skills.

  • Are you a certified or licensed landscape designer?
  • Can you provide me with more references of your work?
  • What types of training have you had?
  • Are you affiliated with any relevant professional organization(s)?
  • How will we go about the project?
  • How much do you charge and when do you expect payment?
  • What specific tasks and/or milestones will be covered?
  • What can I do to save on costs?
  • Do you have insurance?
  • What is your contingency plan in case of unforeseen problems?
  • When can you start?

You can also ask questions about any other particular concerns relating to landscape design and, of course, when the contract will be ready after you verbally agree on the conditions.

Check for a license. You should also review certification requirements in your location. This is a must in terms of safety regulations. If professional certification is a requirement in your area, confirm if your landscape designer has a valid license.

STEP 5 – Keep relevant documents ready.

Your landscaper will conduct a site visit to check your area. He or she is also likely to ask you for a copy of your property plan. This will help him or her to immediately start working on your landscape design especially if there’s a need for building permits.

Some designers also ask their client to fill up an information sheet to further understand the needs of the homeowner, or to simply keep a record.

STEP 6 – Have a maintenance plan.

Now that your garden is looking great, it doesn’t stop there. Landscaping doesn’t end once you’re done with the project. For a garden to truly flourish, it will still need proper care and maintenance.

A landscape design is pointless if you won’t keep it in its tip-top shape. Some professional landscaping companies provide design and maintenance service contracts. So if you don’t want to worry about the maintenance, you may need to find one that does both.

When it comes to landscape renovation, expect there to be roadblocks during the course of the project. This is why hiring a professional landscaper is very important. Your landscape designer should be able to address challenges as they come to avoid any delays and additional costs.

Always keep an open mind. Whatever problems you’ll be facing, a professional landscaper will have a creative solution to stay true to your dream garden.

Rachel Hennessey manages the Pools and Landscaping Division of Hennessey LLC. She also works on Tender and Pre-Qualification and brings in new business to the company’s Construction, Interiors and Civils Division.