Frequently Asked Questions
Hiring a landscape professional requires detailed planning to ensure your ideas are being considered, the installation runs smoothly and the final result is exactly what you had in mind. If you have a question that is not answered below, please feel free to contact us, and we promise we’ll do our best to answer any queries you may have.
What is APLD?
The Association of Professional Landscape Designers® (APLD®) is an international organization dedicated to establishing the highest standards for the landscape design profession. The goals of APLD are to advance landscape design as an independent profession and to promote the recognition of landscape designers as highly qualified, dedicated professionals.
How do I choose a Landscape Designer?
Factors to consider when hiring a landscape designer include education, experience, creativity and compatibility. Ask what level of formal training the designer has achieved and to see samples of their work. This may be photographs or plans from a portfolio or website, or the designer may refer you to an installed design.
Equally important is finding a designer whose style and personality are a good fit for your project. Landscape design is a collaborative process, so trust and confidence are vital to a successful designer/homeowner partnership.
How does the design process work?
While the process may vary depending on the designer, the client’s needs, and the complexity of the project, most residential design projects include the following:
Initial Consultation. This is a chance to meet the designer and review the requirements and objectives of the project. Many designers charge for this visit, so to get the most out of the experience, ask the designer the best way to prepare and be sure you understand exactly what will be covered at this meeting. To start developing your requirements, click here.
Concept Plan. After listening to your ideas and priorities, the designer analyzes the site’s character, strengths and problems, and then develops one or more alternative concept plans for review.
Master Plan. The final master plan represents the culmination of your choices with the designer, and typically includes a complete spatial layout for your outdoor living spaces and other hardscape or architectural concepts.
Planting Plan. This is a working drawing from which the garden will actually be planted, and includes botanical names, container sizes, specific plant locations, and planting instructions to the contractor.
Additional Plan Documents: Depending on the scope of your project, your designer may also provide a lighting plan, specialized guidelines on planting or irrigation, or notes and sketches on design elements such as water features or furniture and accessories placement.
Installation Assistance: Many landscape designers will assist you in soliciting and reviewing construction bids, including referring contractors appropriate for your project. Others may choose to provide drawings only. Designers often stay involved throughout the installation phase to advise on design modifications, material selections and purchase and placement of garden art and accessories.
What does a landscape design cost?
You purchase a landscape designer’s expert consultation time, and, typically, your project’s design plan. Landscape designers bill for their services in various ways. Design is ordinarily billed on an hourly basis or as a flat fee. It is important that the homeowner and the landscape designer have an early discussion and agreement about the cost of services.
What about the budget for my landscape installation?
There is extensive documentation of the value that intelligent, thoughtful landscape design can add to your home. In many parts of California, the value of the land surrounding your home is equal to, or sometimes even greater than the value of the home itself. Well designed, installed and maintained landscaping can lead to a substantial increase in the overall value of your home. A budgeting rule of thumb for a complete landscape installation or renovation is 5-10% of the total value of your home, including the land. Therefore, if you own a $550,000 home, plan to spend between $27,500-$55,500 for a basic, functional landscape that will return up to 200 percent in value. Unusual materials, mature specimen plantings, or elaborate hardscape will add to this figure.
The most successful landscape projects start with a realistic budget. Don’t hesitate to share your budget with the landscape designer. The designer can help strike a balance between special materials and cost-conscious choices to create a beautiful space that meets your functional, aesthetic, and budget preferences before you ask contractors for bids.
Finally, be sure to budget for the ongoing care and maintenance of your new surroundings. Good maintenance will protect your investment, as well as ensure many years of personal enjoyment and satisfaction.