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Home 7. Do You Need Home Garden Professional Help?
Step 7: Choose to Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Professional PDF Print E-mail

Hire a Contractor
Now is the time to consider whether you’re going to do this project yourself or hire professionals, such as landscaping contractors, to help you with both the design and installation.

If you’re having difficulty with any of the previous steps, you can consider hiring landscaping contractors on an hourly basis.

The following types of professionals will work with you on an hourly or a fixed basis to design a master plan of your property that lays out the design concepts:

  • Garden designers
  • Landscape architects
  • Building contractors with a design staff
  • Nurseries with a design staff

Most landscaping contractors do not have a formal training in design, so be sure to check.

Click Here to search for local Landscape Architects, Landscape Designers, and other design professionals.

Also, be certain that any person you enlist to help you understands your vision for your project and is willing to work with your aesthetic, not theirs. To ensure this, be sure that they:

  • have a diversified portfolio showing projects that exemplify their clients’ tastes.
  • have projects in their portfolio with elements that resemble your vision.
  • have references testifying that the professional listened to their wishes.
  • have a written contract with you that states they will not be paid in full until you are pleased with the plan they develop.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and your project only involves a planting design, then here are a few tips to start out with:

  • To lay out a plan of your area, the easiest thing is to use ¼ inch scale graph paper.
  • After outlining the space you’re working with, lay out your path lines first by indicating where you want to go in your space and where existing and/or future paths are.
  • Locate drainage directions. Remember to drain water away from the house, driveways, walkways, etc.
  • Think of how many people you usually entertain. Often four people sit at a circular table. For a rough idea of how large a patio or deck should be, multiply the number of tables you’ll need times 144 sq. ft. A table for four requires 12 ft. by 12 ft. of space to be comfortable.
  • For planting beds, consider where you’ll want high screening shrubs to obscure views and where you’ll want lower bushes.
  • Unless you have an adventurous nature and don’t mind experimenting, choose plants for your conditions (i.e. planting zone, sun/shade, water, etc.).
  • Have your soil tested by your county extension and take the recommended steps to improve it for planting.

If you’re going to do your project yourself, we highly recommend that you study Landscape Design Principles and Landscape Design Tools. These sections cover the basic principles of design, with tips on a variety of subjects including how to create focal points, create moods, and enlarge or enclose spaces.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, but would like a little more guidance, you can:

  • ask a friend whose flair with plants is one you admire.
  • take photographs of your property, a plot plan and list of conditions to your favorite garden center that has a knowledgeable staff.
  • hire a professional designer or landscape architect on an hourly basis.

Hardscape Projects

Do your plans include “hardscape” projects?

This includes design elements made of solid materials such as:

  • Walkways
  • Patios
  • Retaining Walls
  • Fencing
  • Garden Buildings and Structures
  • Swimming Pools and Spas

Unless you have experience with construction, we recommend that you hire landscaping contractors for anything that involves the pouring of concrete.

General landscaping contractors will have subcontractors to handle hardscape installation, as well as planting, lighting and irrigation.

Hiring landscaping contractors should be taken as seriously as if you were hiring someone to remodel your kitchen.

We suggest that you get bids from at least three landscaping contractors that you think would do a good job.

Click here to search for local Landscape Contractors.

Reputable landscaping contractors will have been in business for at least 10 years.

If you use a designer or landscape architect, they will recommend landscaping contractors to suit your particular situation.

If you are designing your project yourself, here are a few tips for finding landscaping contractors:

  • If you admire a friend’s landscape, ask her who installed her garden elements.
  • Check with local nurseries for recommendations and see if any name comes up several times.
  • Many better business bureaus have list of landscape contractors who do not have any complaints against them.
  • Many good landscaping contractors do not have web sites yet, but you might find one whose pictures of projects are similar to what you would like to have installed. You can also see how long they’ve been in business.

Hey! Let’s take a break here and …

… smell those roses!

Sometimes this isn’t so easy when the kids and dog track in dirt from the backyard that’s torn up during the installation or when the contractor doesn’t show up when he said he would, again.

Keep your gardener’s eye on the big picture – the years of enjoyment and memories you and your family will have of the paradise you’ve provided.

And speaking of your paradise, it’s time to rev up that imagination again and grab that vision as we head for the final step of...

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