What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer

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By Ethan Bodnar / Published by Dwell
Thinking about working with a landscape professional on your home garden? Here are some basic tips you need to know to get started.

Designers, architects, contractors—What's the difference?

  • Landscape architects have passed state licensing exams and are certified to draw construction plans for your project. 
  • Landscape designers tend to focus more on the horticultural side of the garden, working to develop the planting scheme. 
  • Landscape contractors are responsible for implementing the design through construction and installing the project. 

Sometimes, these roles will overlap—some landscape designers take care of installation themselves, while landscape architects sometimes select plants. 

You can learn more about these roles at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the American Society of Landscape Architecture.

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 1 of 6 - Make sure to chat with the other members of your household to decide what exactly you're hoping to gain from working with a professional for your garden. What are your main goals and visions?

Make sure to chat with the other members of your household to decide what exactly you're hoping to gain from working with a professional for your garden. What are your main goals and visions?

Finding the Best Professional For Your Garden 

A great way to get started is by doing some research. Have you seen their portfolio of past projects? Do you feel that your aesthetic matches the type of work they do? Can you ask friends for referrals? 

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 2 of 6 - This outdoor space features hardy materials like concrete and weathering steel—along with Mayer/Reed-specified, drought-tolerant, and native plants and grasses.

This outdoor space features hardy materials like concrete and weathering steel—along with Mayer/Reed-specified, drought-tolerant, and native plants and grasses.

Getting Started With a Professional

Since each designer has their own process, it’s valuable to find out how they work during your first conversation together. Be sure to clearly articulate your goals for the space—how you plan to use the garden, your budget for the project, and what your style preferences are. 

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 3 of 6 - Having a consistent and cohesive planet palette is a necessary step to follow when planning the direction of your garden.

Having a consistent and cohesive planet palette is a necessary step to follow when planning the direction of your garden.

Going Through the Design Process 

Once you’ve wrapped up the proposal and contract process, your team will be ready to get to work on the design phase. Typically, this part of the process will begin with a complete site analysis. You'll be presented with several design options for the overall direction of the project. Later, you'll dive into detailed design decisions together, including specific materials and different types of plants.

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 4 of 6 - Shopping at the nursery

Shopping at the nursery

Caring For the Garden

After everything is installed, don’t forget to think about maintenance. Certain landscapes and plants will require more than others, so ask your landscape designer for their recommendations to help keep your space looking healthy. 

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 5 of 6 - Garden care

Garden care

Doing It Yourself 

Hiring a professional designer is just one potential direction, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty yourself or invite friends over on the weekend to help plant a garden.

What You Need to Know When Considering Working With a Landscape Designer - Photo 6 of 6 - Back garden workstation

Back garden workstation

We'd love to hear about your experience as a client hiring a landscape designer, or your process of working with home owners if you're a landscape professional yourself. Leave a comment below to share!

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