“I think I’ll hire a landscaper”…. If only it were that simple! From deciding which type of landscaper is right for the job to asking key questions before making a hire, there are many points to consider as you embark on your landscaping journey. It’s not uncommon to talk with a few different professionals before making a decision. Given that many landscaping projects (though not all) can cost thousands of dollars, you will want to put some time into choosing the right company or individual to carry out your vision. Keep reading for a breakdown of how to hire a landscaper and get the job done!
Choose the type of landscaper that’s right for you
Hiring a landscaper can be as confusing as hiring an interior designer! That’s because there are a variety of people calling themselves landscapers, and they may or may not be certified. This factor doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, but it’s important to understand the type of professional you’re hiring.
Who you hire will be determined by your budget and the tasks at hand. For example, if the sky is the limit, a landscape architect or landscape designer can create a first-rate plan for your space and tackle anything from tree removal to masonry. If you’re on a tight budget, your landscape maintenance company may be able to plant selections that you pick out and place around the yard.
There are ways to save money, such as choosing a landscaper without the highest level of certification, choosing a newer company that’s looking to build a client base, and even asking employees at your local nursery if they’re willing to do some landscaping projects on the side. Especially if you have a clear idea of what you want and you can convey that to a landscaper, you may be able to skip the design portion of the project and simply hire a landscaping contractor to get the job done. You often get what you pay for, so before you choose savings over experience, make sure you ask a few key questions before giving another person or company free reign over your yard! Which brings us to our next point…
Ask the right questions before you hire
Asking the right questions up front can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. For example, posting a simple question about landscaping recommendations on a neighborhood app (such as ) or message board can help you zone in on a list of potential professionals to hire. At that point, speaking with these landscapers on the phone and addressing the issues that follow can serve as a screening process before you book consultations. Here’s a sampling of questions to ask:
Do you carry insurance? The last thing you want is to be liable for an injury that occurs on your property!
Do you have references? Hiring a professional who is recommended by others can save you unnecessary grief. If you don’t have a personal recommendation at your disposal, asking for references is always helpful.
Do you have experience with this type of landscaping? This question may seem obvious, but not all landscapers are experts in every type of landscaping. A simple question over the phone (such as “Do you have experience xeriscaping?”) will save you time and money. If you meet with a landscaper who tries to steer you away from a style that you prefer, this can also be a red flag.
Can I see photos of your work? Especially if your potential landscaping hire doesn’t have an extensive photo gallery on the website, this question can help you decide if the style he or she offers is a good match for your space.
Are you comfortable working within a budget of _____? There are high-end landscape architects and designers who will not want to take on a project for under $10,000. Don’t let an estimate catch you by surprise. Before you spend time meeting/consulting with a company, get your budget out on the table.
Be clear about what you want
You can’t hire the right person for the job unless you know what the job entails. If you have an unlimited budget and are happy with someone planning out and executing the project without much feedback from you, delegating is no problem. For others, a true vision emerges, and you want to find someone who can carefully carry it out. At the very least, you’ll want to think about the look and feel of your space. Here are some points to consider:
Budget: As mentioned, your budget needs to be clear up front, even if you know you’re willing to increase it by a certain amount. Your budget will also determine if there are tasks that you tackle now AND later, or if you can get it all done in one fell swoop.
The look: The more information and visual input you can give your landscaper about the look you’re going for, the better the results. If you don’t have the benefit of hiring a landscaper who will produce a design before he or she starts the project, the more specific you will need to be. For example, saying “Fill the holes in the backyard with native grasses and yucca” may seem detailed, but when your landscaper shows up with only 5 plants and you were hoping for 20 in order to mask your neighbor’s ugly wall, you will have wished you’d stressed abundance! Be specific about what you want.
Personality type: It will quickly become clear when you meet someone you can work with. Or someone you can’t. A good landscaper will listen to you. Creating a design that’s good for your yard and matches your preferences will be more important to him or her than following one’s creative whim. Remember, you’re the one who has to live with the yard once your landscaper leaves. If you feel like you can’t voice your opinion, ask questions or get the recommendations you need, choose another landscaper!
A quick note: landscapers are very busy. Not only is their calendar filled with jobs, they also do consultations that involve visiting the homes of prospective clients. You may need to follow up with your landscaper more than once if you’re on a tight schedule. Don’t be afraid to put yourself back on his or her radar, a reminder that you’re serious about doing business with the company and you want to get started soon. Happy landscaping!!