Choosing a landscaper or landscape designer can be a daunting task when you don’t know where to start. If you’re looking to do some landscaping but you have no idea where to start, look no further. I am writing this article to give you useful insights from a landscape designer’s perspective, having been one myself.
Landscaping is a multidisciplinary profession that may seem like a mystery to anyone embarking on their first landscaping project. Having designed countless gardens and outdoor spaces for many years, I am in a unique position to suggest five of the most important questions you must ask a landscaper before you decide whether to hire them or not.
Beautiful landscapes don’t just happen. A lot of things happen behind the scenes. Unfortunately, most people are just interested in the end result. The key to getting it right from the start lies in knowing what takes place behind the scenes so that you can be able to ask potential landscapers all the right questions and eventually choose the best man/woman for the job based on the answers you get.
Once you have the right person for the job, you can relax and watch your landscape become transformed like you have always wished for. Let’s get right into it and discuss the 5 questions you need to ask and the answers you should expect to be able to choose the best landscaper for you.
1. What Site Information Do You Consider?
It’s important to note that the best landscape designers want to know as much information as possible from heights, soil types, views, rainfall, temperature and prevailing winds to surrounding building details like window size and much more. The best landscape designers go as far as collecting their own information using tools such as tripods, laser levels, tapes etc. just to make sure the information they get in advance is accurate.
If there is any existing plant material, they should be able to identify it easily as well as be able to assess its health and value. In a nutshell, you should consider choosing a landscape designer who is hungry for information since this is one of the best ways of ensuring you get the best outcome possible now and in the future.
2. Which Plants Thrive In This Area?
Your idea landscaper should also be able to confidently name at least 20 different plants/flowers that can thrive in your landscape. Furthermore, you should expect the best landscape designer to give you botanical names, micro-climates and soil types as opposed to novice descriptions. A good designer should also be able to name common pests, their favorite plants as well as why they are a problem in your area and how to control them.
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3. Are There Any Regulations That We Need To Consider When Executing Our Landscaping Project?
Your preferred landscaper should also be able to answer questions on the planning permission, building permits, overlays and/or council zones among other regulation requirements you may need to meet to execute your landscaping project. The best landscapers are aware of specific regulations on septic systems, ideal/recommended timber grades, outdoor lighting standards, wall height regulations, storm water management and minimum site permeability guidelines just to mention a few important regulations that need to be considered during a landscaping project.
4. How Do You Determine The Best Landscaping Design For Us?
The most important thing to note here is; landscape designers are supposed to create ideas and then get feedback from their clients. This, of course, applies when you are open to new landscaping ideas apart from those you may have already. The best landscapers present their ideas onsite and then take note of the feedback they get. This is a better approach compared to simply sharing ideas on phone or on a piece of paper.
Some designers may choose to create basic concepts on paper that can be modified until they meet clients’ tastes and preference perfectly. There is nothing wrong with this approach. All in all, the designer you choose should be imaginative but practical. The designs they come up with must also be beautiful, artistic and take into account all the information that has been gathered as well as their own knowledge and experience.
5. How Do You Ensure You Meet Your Clients’ Expectations?
The landscape designer you choose should indicate that they focus on maintaining good working relations with their staff and clients throughout the project. You should welcome answers that touch on the use of detailed/accurate scale drawings to execute projects. It’s important to note that you don’t have to see every single landscaping drawing unless you ask, however, you should get the sense that your preferred designer prepares detailed/accurate scale drawings and follows them to the letter.
Expect the best designer to use professional landscaping software that offers unmatched drawing speed, detail, accuracy and flexibility that is impossible to match with manual drafting. Drawings should include; irrigation pipework, cabling, drainage plans as well as hard surfaces turf, garden and planting plans and much more. You should also expect to get scale drawing answers with calculations and specifications relating to irrigation design, material selection, and quantification.
The above questions and corresponding answers cover the most important information to consider when choosing a landscaper. Almost all landscaping projects, even the most modest, are bound to involve the above considerations in one way or another. The landscape professional you choose must give you answers that suggest they are professional, experienced and they know exactly what they are doing. Although there may be other questions to consider, asking the above 5 questions will help you get the best landscaper for the job.
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