With so many factors that play a role, selecting the best landscape designer can be tricky.
If you’re considering working with a landscape designer, finding the right fit — and avoiding surprises midway through the project — is largely about knowing which questions to ask upfront and being familiar with the range of services they provide.
Read on to see 10 essential questions potential clients should ask before hiring a professional for the job.
1. What services do you offer?
First and foremost, determine what services a landscape designer offers to see if he or she is the right person for your project. You want to make sure they’re experienced with the scope of work you need done and whether or not they can design and manage it.
2. Can I see examples of your past work or similar projects?
If a designer’s portfolio doesn’t include the particular style you’re looking for, check out his or her credentials for evidence of the training to make the vision of your garden a reality. Degrees from accredited landscape design colleges and memberships in professional organizations are both good indicators.
3. Do you offer garden consultations?
Some landscape designers will offer one- to two-hour garden consultations. During this meeting, a designer will typically come over to your property, join you for a walk around the property, listen to what you’d like to accomplish with your remodel and begin to bounce some ideas around for the design.
This is a great opportunity for you to determine whether you have a fit with the designer, and for the designer to see if he or she fits with you as a client.
4. What ideas do you have for our space?
After you’ve shared your wants and budget with the designer, and the designer has had a chance to view your property, ask what vision the designer has for your landscape.
This is the time to speak up about what you like and dislike in the design or if you see anything that’s missing.
5. What is your process?
Get to know the designer’s process — and whether you (or the designer) is responsible for overseeing each step. That way, you’ll know what to expect once the project is underway.
6. What do you think this project will cost?
Clear communication regarding the estimated cost of the project and your budget is essential.
Given that unanticipated design changes often come up mid-project, it’s also important to be clear on whether a designer will charge additional fees for the time it takes to change the design plan or installation.
7. Are there any ways to reduce cost?
Pathways, patios, retaining walls and decks are generally more expensive than planted garden areas, so the more hardscape there is in the design, the more it’s likely going to cost to install.
It’s best to have a conversation with a designer when you are discussing the initial plan about ways to reduce the cost of the landscape to stay on budget. The designer will have ideas about where you can save money without compromising style, and what elements are worth a splurge.
8. How long will installation take?
As eager as you may be to enjoy your new landscape, keep in mind that skilled installation of hardscape and careful planting takes time. So, instead of asking a landscape designer to have the installation done by a certain date, ask for an estimated range for the project to be completed.
9. When will the garden grow in?
The time it takes for a garden to grow in depends on the scope of the design, what types of plants are proposed and how mature the plants are when they’re planted.
A smaller area with ornamental grasses and perennials can grow in within a single season, but larger and more complex designs with trees and large shrubs can take years to reach maturity.
10. How much maintenance will it take to keep everything healthy?
Once you’ve invested in hiring a landscape designer and installing a garden, you’ll want to keep your landscape alive and flourishing for years to come. Be upfront with your landscape designer about how much maintenance you are willing to commit going forward.
Did you recently work with a landscape professional? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.