Finding (and Hiring) The Perfect Landscape Designer For You
So, you decided to hire a landscape designer. But. . .now you have to figure out how to find someone qualified, and you have to make sure they can help you achieve a great looking landscape. How do you do it?
Here are my thoughts (as a landscape designer) on what you should look for when you hire a landscape designer.
Finding A Designer
First things first! How do you find a designer?
I think the best method is via recommendations. Often friends or family will be happy to tell you about their own experiences, and those are usually really solid referrals.
You could also drive around the neighborhood, find homes with landscapes you really like, and ask the homeowner who their designer is. I know of homeowners who have had random people ask them who did their landscaping. They were more than happy to refer their designers. (I have to admit, thought, it would be difficult for me to do this!)
Another option is to Google designers in your area. Many will have websites where you can view their portfolio and request a quote or set up a meeting. And, of course, you can check community bulletin boards or keep an eye out for mailers and ads.
But let's say you're ready to start meeting landscape designers. What should you look for?
Yep, communication. You and your designer are going to be meeting, e-mailing, and chatting a lot about your landscape, so you need to find someone who will listen to you, understand you, and who can communicate clearly with you.
You need to make sure the lines of communication are clear BEFORE you sign the contract. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to get a sense of this early on, through phone calls, the first meeting, and e-mails.
Flexibility and Firmness
And by this I mean there is give and take in the design process, and the designer you hire needs to be able to stand up for themselves but also be flexible in their design. You don't want a yes person as your designer, because if you do, well, you might as well have just designed the whole thing yourself!
The designer should be able to take your ideas and turn them into something that works with your specific landscape and situation. To do that, they need to be both flexible and firm with their ideas.
There are some extremely talented designers out there who have never spent one day in a classroom, and others who have multiple degrees and certifications who just can't do the job. So how do you, as a homeowner, make sure you find someone who knows what they are doing?
Make sure to interview the potential designer before you hire them. Ask them questions about where they went to school, what certifications they have, their experience, their knowledge of plants, and of course ask about their design experience.
Style and Focus
Now this is important. Do you like the designer's style or focus? For instance, my focus is sustainability, and I integrate that into all my design work. If sustainability isn't your thing, you'll be much happier with a different designer!
The best way to grasp if you like someone's style and focus is to look at their portfolio and their website (if available). This is a great way to quickly see if they are the designer for you.
So In Conclusion. . .
Those are some of my suggestions for hiring a landscape designer. But what about you? If you've hired a designer, how did you make sure it was a good fit? Were there any surprises in the process? Let me know in the comments!
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