Many homeowners may wonder, what makes a good landscaper? And, that’s a good question to ask because not all landscapers are equipped to handle large or complex landscapes. Even if you have a smaller property, you may desire a landscape that features native plants that thrive best under local conditions. But still, you want your landscaper to be able to choose interesting plant varieties that demonstrate creativity in nature.
Your landscaper should be knowledgeable about local climate, regional soils and your property’s drainage patterns. At the same time, you will also want a team that is professional, friendly and dependable. Here we will provide a guide to your first landscaping project and discuss questions to ask your contractor to make sure they are the right fit to service your property and to improve your home’s curb appeal.
What to Look for in a Landscaper
Your first resource when hiring a landscape service for a new design/build project is to look at their reviews. Maybe not the ones posted on their own website, but those comments left on third-party sites will give a more accurate picture of what former customers really think. For each project, look at what the initial motivation behind the project was. For instance, you want a landscaper that can beautify your lawn and suggest and install the right shrubbery and trees.
But, it doesn’t stop there. A really good landscaper makes it their business to under the client and the needs of their property. This may be better drainage, creating backyard privacy, installing a greener, low- maintenance lawn, developing space for flower beds or the inclusion of natural elements like stones pavers, water features and walking paths. Every installation should be looked at as either a short-term project or a long-term goal.
Finally, your landscaper should be excited about your landscape plans. But, avoid any contractor that pushes you to do all your projects at the same time. It’s okay to design a roadmap that will get your landscape to the finish line over the span of multiple projects. Landscape design and build projects unfold over time, with some installations that should be done first or take priority over others.
6 Steps to a new landscape
- Solve any drainage or slope issues
- Tackle any land clearing projects
- Develop lush green spaces that are thriving
- Consider your hard surfaces – decks, pavers, patios and walkways
- Install outdoor kitchens, fire pits or gazebos
- Consider water features, swimming pools, koi ponds
Landscaping Design Consultation Questions
1. How should people go about picking a landscaper?
For this scenario, let’s assume you’re looking for an experienced landscaping contractor to replant your front yard while also adding some outdoor living spaces and water features to your backyard. First, go to their website to see if they have experience in those specific projects and at the scale your property demands. Next, talk with the business to find out if they give a detailed description of the new landscape, with either sketches or a detailed quote. For any project scope these steps should be taken.
Also, discuss how they plan to phase the project and meet the deadlines you will require. Finally, don’t be afraid to talk about the budget. Often, homeowners desire more than their budget will allow, but a good landscaper can offer trade-offs in either material selection or a different design that can better meet your budget.
2. What are some key signs of a bad landscaper?
There are red flags that may indicate you’ve hired the wrong landscaper including a company that doesn’t have the manpower or the right equipment for the job. But, sometimes the signs can be more subtle. For instance, if your contractor isn’t listening to what you desire for your family and your property. In these cases, the company may be trying to off-load some plants, trees or other items they have left-over from another project.
3. Does more expensive always mean a better landscaping company?
You really can’t judge a good landscaping company by price. You have to look at their portfolio or gallery of past projects to see if what they charge is reasonable for the types of projects they complete. There are some hidden costs found with landscape design and build projects that you may not have considered. These include:
- landscaping design services
- plumbing and outdoor lighting
- backfill or contouring to enhance drainage
- excavators and other heavy equipment
- removal of bush, rocks or debris
Don’t waste your time or your money with a budget landscaper. A better option is to do a phased plan that spreads the entire project out over several months.
5 More Questions to Ask Landscaping Contractor
- Will you source locally grown plants, shrubs and trees to reduce costs and maintenance?
- How long will the entire project take and what are the estimated costs?
- Are you partnered with tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians?
- What should I expect my yard to look like after the project is complete?
- Can you install outdoor living structures such as decks, kitchens or lounge areas?
- Choose a landscaper with experience in the type and scale of your project
- Don’t judge a landscaper by price, instead, look at customer reviews and past projects
- Avoid landscapers that are trying to push certain plants or specific outdoor furniture
For more information on what makes a great landscape partner, visit Sponzilli Landscape Group to view our innovative designs and low maintenance landscapes.