Finding the Right Landscape Professional

Flagstone path, Japanese Forest Grass and Elfin thymeFinding the right landscape professional can seem a daunting process for a homeowner, especially if it is your first time. But taking the time to find the right professional to work with is a good investment and can help you avoid alot of frustration, and makes the process enjoyable!

Hiring the right professional to design and build your landscape project requires a collaboration with someone who is on the same page as you, whose price is fair and who can complete the project in the time frame you want.

I recommend that you:

  • know what you want: identify the design features and functionality that is important to your lifestyle
  • have a budget; even if you don’t know how much a fence or outdoor kitchen costs, you should have an idea whether you are looking for basic or custom construction. Having a budget will help you work within a price range you’re comfortable with!
  • have a set of criteria for evaluating and choosing the professional you want to work with. Candidates’ skill, knowledge and experience will help you decide whether your top contender has the ability to do things right, on-budget and on-schedule! Ask for references!
  • understand all the costs: design fees and construction costs should be well spelled-out for you. And I believe the on-going maintenance costs and issues should be discussed from the start!

A good design will empower you to phase-in the work as you see fit! Even if you plan to do it all at once, a landscape is a living thing that will evolve and change over time. A master plan will help you keep focussed on your vision when the unexpected happens. A little homework will help you to identify what you like and don’t like; there’s never been so many choices in styles and colours of outdoor furnishings!

Click here to download and print a PDF called My Garden Wishlist. It was designed to help you summarize the things you want in your garden. You can make notes, including the URLs of examples you have found on the internet! It will also help you to determine whether you are in need of a basic landscaper or a designer.

Basic landscapers generally are your best bet if you:

  • want do spend the least possible amount of money
  • like to choose from a few basic designs
  • only require average materials
  • need a quick start to your project

People who choose to work with a designer typically:

  • expect a higher level of quality
  • want to create a custom place, specific to their preferences
  • like to consider many features and options
  • prefer high quality materials and construction techniques

Once you have determined which which way you need to go, go online or ask friends/neighbours.

Things to look for:

  • satisfied customers and glowing testimonials
  • previous work that is aligned with your expectations for your own project
  • good listening skills
  • ability to discuss problem-solving and construction techniques
  • estimated costs that reflect your price range

Things to avoid:

  • a bad history
  • complaints
  • no-shows
  • low prices that sound too good to be true

Follow your instinct! If after meeting, you have a good feel (or the opposite), this should be seriously considered!