A successful landscaping project requires a skilled landscape designer with the experience to bring your vision to life. But how do you choose the right professional for the job? Here are some key questions to ask when hiring a landscape designer.
What Services Do You Provide?
In general, landscape designers fall into one of the following categories:
Design only: These specialists only create the design based on a site analysis and discussions with the client. Once they’ve created a detailed plan, they hand over the construction document and you (or your chosen design-build landscaper) take it from there.
Design-build: These contractors purchase materials and install a pre-made plan. In many instances, they can make a few minor changes to the plan mid-project; usually, however, they work exclusively from a pre-provided design plan.
Full service: These specialists design, install and, in some instances, provide ongoing landscape maintenance.
Be sure you know what type of landscaper you are getting before you call one to visit your property for an assessment.
Do You Have Examples of Your Work?
Great landscape designers should have comprehensive portfolios with diverse examples of their work. If a designer’s portfolio doesn’t include the style you’re looking for, verify their credentials to make sure they have the experience and training to bring your vision to life.
Do You Offer Consultations?
Some designers will be willing to visit to assess your property and listen to what you’d like to accomplish. This gives you a chance to bounce some ideas off the designer. It also gives you a chance to see if they are willing to work with you in a collaborative way.
While you shouldn’t expect a consult to be free — it is, after all, two hours of a contractor’s time — some professionals will be willing to add the consult fee to the cost of the design if you ultimately end up hiring them.
What Are Your Suggestions?
After you’ve shared some of your preferences, ask the designer what they think. Whether you are approaching the project with a wide-open mind or have a specific vision in mind, an experienced landscape designer should be able to provide ideas and suggestions based on your unique property and preferences. This is also a good time to convey what you want and don’t want, whether it’s a simple tool shed and vegetable garden or intricate water features.
What is Your Process?
A landscape designer’s process depends on the services they provide. Get all the details, so you will know what to expect. If you’re hiring a design-only contractor, ask yourself whether you have the experience and time to oversee the project installation. If not, ask the designer to recommend someone. If you’re hiring a full-service designer, make sure they will be able to do the work while causing minimal disruptions to your home and neighborhood.
What is the Estimated Cost?
Ask the designer for cost estimates for both the design and installation. Most estimates are drawn up based on the cost per square foot of hardscape outlined on the design plan. Patios, pathways, decks and retaining walls are generally more expensive than garden areas. You may be able to reduce costs by minimizing some of these features.
You should also ask how changes in scope will be handled if unanticipated design changes come up mid-project. Many designers will charge additional fees, but this isn’t always the case.
How Long Will Installation Take?
The timeframe for design and installation depends on several factors, including the size and scope of the project, the weather, ordering and delivery times for plants and materials, availability of installation specialists, and any unexpected setbacks during the project. Still, a good contractor should be able to give you an estimated range for project completion.
How Much Maintenance Will I Need?
Your landscape will require varying degrees of continuing care, based on the plants. Be upfront with your designer about exactly how much maintenance you will be able to provide. If you’re investing in a beautiful landscape design, you’ll want to make sure it flourishes for years to come. A good landscaper will either be able to provide maintenance or recommended specialists to take care of your landscape going forward. If necessary, they should also be able to install vegetation that requires less upkeep.
At RMPS Landscaping in Castle Rock, we provide a wide array of landscaping services, from hardscaping and stone work to outdoor lighting, water features, plants, sod, trees and whole-scale landscape renovations. Visit our featured projects page for inspiration, and contact us to learn how we can help bring your boldest vision to life.