If you’re planning on a landscape project, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is whether to hire a landscape architect, designer or contractor. Their expertise and knowledge may be of the same levels, but their areas of focus sure vary considerably.
It can indeed be hard to separate the tasks of these three types of landscape professionals. The help clear the lines, many design-build companies have in-house architects and designers who take care of everything, from designing to installing to maintaining landscape projects; other architects and designers, on the other hand, each have their own contractors the work with. Sometimes, you can just work with a landscape designer or architect to create a plan for your project, after which you will be referred to a trusted contractor. In most cases, when you hire a landscape contractor, all design work will be part of the deal.
So how do you decide which professional to hire? This will mainly boil down to four factors: the size of your project, your timeline, the job’s overall complexity, and, of course, your budget. But believe it or not, there’s a fifth factor, which is generally considered the ultimate litmus test: personality fit.
You’ll want your landscape pro to value your inputs and listens to your goals for the project, and is willing to work with you when it comes to scheduling. They should spend time checking out your property and asking you questions about how you usually use it, the elements you want to include in the design (for example, rattan outdoor furniture), and the overall ambiance that you would like the create with the final design. Of course, if there’s something you want that isn’t possible or recommendable, they will express their thoughts to you based on their knowledge and experience.
As always, whether you’re looking for a landscape professional or any other service provider, a personal referral or recommendation is your best bet. So ask relatives, friends or coworkers if they’ve worked with a good one recently. Another option you have is searching online directories maintained by industry organizations. Ask them whether they have licenses, certifications and professional affiliations; if they say yes, have them show proof. Any proposal you consider must be presented to you in writing, and be sure to understand every single term and condition, as well as the fees.
Even if you’re thinking of pulling a DIY on your landscape project, the advice of experts is still indispensable. After all, there are many reasons people call them that. And of course, considering the usually expensive cost involved, you’d like to make sure that everything is done right on the first try.