What You Should Know Before Hiring a Landscape Architect

When it comes time to choose a landscape architect professional to create the landscape design you have always wanted it can be daunting to weed out experts from run-of-the-mill landscapers. If you do a local search of landscape companies you’ll likely get a lengthy list of results but there won’t be a big arrow pointing to the one that will best suit all of your needs. So how do you choose a Landscape Architect or Designer? And what should you consider before hiring a landscape team to complete a large or small installation? Start by asking yourself a few questions about the design and scope of your project and then begin to narrow down your results by looking deeper into company culture and training.

Available Space & Design Elements

Redesigning your landscape begins with deciding on the amount of work to be done.  The scope of the project you are committing to should be thought about in terms of available space, time and funds. Consider in your mind if you are trying to complete a remodel or a total overhaul. Understanding how far you are willing to ‘sink your teeth’ into the project will not only help you choose a company to work with but it will also begin to give you a realistic goal for your space.

One of the best ways to research a Landscape Architect is by looking at the work they have already completed. Find a Landscape Architect whose portfolio reflects elements of what you want in your own design.  Whether your dreamscape includes high-end design elements and materials, lush gardens with walkways or a large open stone patio area with a kitchen, seeing what the designer has created in the past will show you if they can match your ideal landscape for the future.

Why a Landscape Architect?

If you are experiencing problems with erosion or stagnant water in your landscape or if you have been thinking you want an outdoor kitchen, fireplace or patio seating area then hiring a Landscape Architect is the safest and best way to ensure that your project will be in compliance with local ordinances and laws.  A Landscape Architect has the ability to make decisions and plans about grading and drainage issues in your yard due to their education and training. They can also properly engineer the design of retaining walls to stop erosion in accordance with township ordinances.

Landscape Architects have detailed knowledge about soil composition and how it will affect drainage throughout a landscape. They know all the types of plants that will flourish even when acidity levels are too high or low. They understand design and construction and the importance of proper footings for retaining walls or other structures to be erected.  Landscape architects can generate detailed design plans for any property and complete permit applications with townships which is something a landscaper is not able to do. The permit application process is an essential but often difficult part of designing outdoor spaces due to the rigorous demands of state and local municipalities.

Quality Assurance & Customer Service

A reputable landscape architect and design firm will provide quality customer service from the first moment that they begin working with you. A seasoned design team will have plans and procedures in place for scheduling meetings, estimates and discussing design ideas. They may even have a plan for creating open lines of communication with neighbors about construction being completed near their property. The best landscape architects and project managers are flexible and capable of dealing with project changes and unexpected problems. Their dedication and knowledge of the field has given them the ability to adapt.  Seek out a landscape architect who is willing to guarantee their work and plant installations so that if an issue arises after the project is complete, you have assurance that there is someone to call for help.

If you visit your landscape architect’s business establishment, take notice of their own landscaping and how they present themselves as professionals. Pay attention to the greeting you receive when you arrive, the hospitality of the staff, and their available technology and equipment. Companies with workers who wear clean clothes or uniforms typically pay more attention to detail and are committed to a higher standard in quality.

Look for details within the company to prove to yourself that they stand apart.   Those who do will likely be most capable of bringing that same mentality to your landscape. You need to find an architect with whom you can have a dynamic and professional relationship as this is important to the process of making your dreamscape come to life.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references and to look at social media to gain more insight into the type of relationships they’ve had with past clients. Understanding how a company engages with their social media audience will show you if they have active dialogues with followers and if they respond to reviews of their work.

Look for a Landscape Design Team with Memberships & Certifications

Landscape architects and design teams who are skilled and well qualified will have training and certifications in many different areas. Seek out a professional who is able to tackle the installations you desire in your design. Certified training and memberships in organizations such as the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals (AOLP), Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and BeeSafe Organic Lawn Care will provide you, as a homeowner, with a design founded on cutting edge technologies that utilize green practices.

In addition to on-going training, Landscape Architects and design teams that are active in national organizations such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as well as state and local affiliations such as the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) are held to higher standards because they are established, knowledgeable and award winning.

Community Involvement

Many landscape companies work with their community to try and increase awareness about organic care services, the benefits of sustainable and environmentally friendly products and the importance of including indigenous plants in to landscape designs to nurture wildlife in the area.

Look for companies that are recognized in their community as leaders who work with schools and local sports teams by participating in beautification days  to educate children about the concept of ‘leaving it better’ and how plants and trees are valuable to our planet’s  future. Landscape Architect firms that are reputable throughout their community as being a part of it will be more likely to care about what their client’s think and will strive to meet a higher expectation.