If it’s time to beautify the outside of your home, you may need some help. It may be you want to create a new home garden or refresh an existing one and, depending on what you would like the end result to be, you could decide to choose a landscaper for your next project.
The difficulty is knowing how to choose the right landscaper for your needs who also fits your budget. There are a lot of things to consider so we have broken it down to help you get the garden of your dreams.
What is a landscaper?
A landscaper is a bit like an architect except they focus on the outdoors. They design and physically create scenes for outdoor areas with plants and other types of greenery, rocks, cement, water and various other materials.
The purpose may be simply aesthetic beauty, or it can be functional or a combination of both.
Some landscapers simply design, others will design and implement their vision. When talking to landscapers make sure you ask about the scope of their abilities before signing a contract.
Know what you want
Before you start looking for a landscaper, spend some time writing down the ideas that you have for your outdoor space – it doesn’t matter how rough they are, your landscaper can refine them.
Areas to cover:
- Size of the space
- Purpose – what will the area be used for
- Style – find examples of what you like to show them
- New design or refresh an existing design
Think about how you want to use the space. It may be for outdoor gatherings, weekly barbecues or merely to have a peaceful place to sit. It is easier to have an idea of your requirements in your mind so when you do talk to landscapers they can get a feel for what you need.
Make sure that the design you end up with fits you and your family’s lifestyle.
Questions to ask a landscape designer
1. Insurance: They need to be covered for any injuries, for themselves and any of their employees, that may occur on your property;
2. References: You may have already been referred to a landscaper by a friend but ask about other references as well. Have a look online for negative feedback as well as positive to avoid potential disasters;
3. Expertise: Landscapers have experience in different facets of design. Check that the landscaper you choose has qualifications and is the right one for your requirements;
4. Examples: If they don’t have examples of their work on their website, ask to see pictures of their work – especially recent designs;
5. Budget: Be upfront about your budget. It helps to keep the design within perspective and allows a landscaper to create a more realistic plan;
6. Communication: You can usually tell from early contact whether a tradie is going to be easy to communicate with. If you are talking to a landscaper and they are hard to contact, are impatient when explaining plant choices or just tell you to leave it to them – think twice before engaging them to work for you. If you want to be involved and consulted step by step as the design unfolds, choose a landscaper that is comfortable walking you through the process;
7. Quote: Once you have chosen your landscaper ask for a written quote. Once accepted, ask for a written contract that includes:
- The landscaper’s responsibilities
- Installation standards
- The nature of the work to be undertaken
- The prices, payment terms, and guarantees agreed upon
- Installation timeline
Avoid verbal only agreements as these can be difficult to prove in disputes.
Choosing plants for landscaping
The types of landscape plants you will use for your outdoor space depends on a number of different factors.
Before you choose your plants consider:
1. Plant placement: Choose plants that will add appeal to your home. They can cover unsightly hot water services, add privacy or accentuate existing features.
2. The mature plant: Research how plants will look once they are fully grown. How tall will they be and how much space will they take up. Will they block out important winter sun or maybe the roots will damage some existing infrastructure?
3. Colour scheme: Lots of colour, shades of green or maybe something in between, you decide.
4. Sunlight & soil: Plants need the right conditions to thrive, make sure your plants suit the conditions of your space.Or if a small space, consider fake greenery.
5. Trees: The right tree(s) will look amazing in your landscape design and provide shade and shelter. Plant trees that are not going to grow too big for your space. Consider fruit trees that can be trimmed to stay smaller that will give that bit extra when they fruit.
6. Height variation: Include plants of differing heights to help add texture to your outdoors. Include shrubs as well as trees, flowers and ground covers.
7. Evergreens: If you want your outdoors to be green all year round, add some evergreen trees or shrubs. They don’t lose their leaves and look lush no matter the season.
Low maintenance plants for landscaping
One of the things you need to keep in mind when choosing landscape plants is that you are the one that is going to be looking after them, unless of course, you are lucky enough to employ a gardener. Some plants you may include your landscaping:
- Ornamental grass
- Chinese Fringe Tree
- Quartz Rose Verbena
You may want to keep plants to a minimum or specifically ask your landscaper for ideas to keep your garden low maintenance if you have a busy lifestyle.
Another way to reduce maintenance is to combine organic greenery with artificial plants like green ivy walls or faux trees. They look as good as real plants or sometimes even better. They require very little work from you to keep them looking at their best all year round.
Once you have a good understanding of what you would like your outdoor space to look like, talk to family, friends and your social networks. Recommendations from people you know are a great place to start when choosing the right landscaper for you.