If you are considering hiring a professional landscape gardener, you may find some of these tips and questions helpful. Before reaching out, consider creating a list of your wants and needs. Decide on a budget, determine your priorities and If you’re trying to save money, consider which parts of the process you will need outside help with and which you are capable of handling yourself.
Establishing your goals on paper should make it easier to stay on track, within budget and help you to convey your job ideas to any prospective contractors.
Here are some of the best questions you may want to consider asking any potential landscape gardener:
What can you do with my space? What is your vision?
A designer should be able to visualise and verbalise a plan that works within the space you have. Ask them to show you drawings or computer graphics demonstrating the shape and form the project will take. This is a great time to request any changes with the design you may have.
Can I see examples of your past work? Do you have an online portfolio? Have you done any public areas that I could visit?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, when hiring a contractor, it could be worth thousands of pounds. If you are not satisfied with the photos, you probably won’t be satisfied with the job. Ask if they have worked on any public gardens or done landscaping that can be seen without entering private property. This will give you the opportunity to see first-hand if this is the right person for your job.
We love to show off our work, check our social media (links on our website) for new photos!
How long will it take for the plants to start growing? What special care will they need and how much maintenance will be required?
Depending on the type, size and maturity of the plants being used in your design; some plants may “fill in” anywhere from a month to over a year. Make sure you understand this and are prepared to wait for certain plants to bloom, develop and flourish.
Your design should not only look good, but it should fit in your lifestyle and budget. Some plants may require little to no care once established while some others may require regular pruning, watering and feeding to maintain their very best. Don’t bit off more than you can chew, make sure you have the time to invest in the care of your design.
What are some ways we can incorporate the existing features and structures in this project?
Different locations offer a variety of different challenges and advantages limited only by budget and the skill and creativity employed in its design. A professional landscape gardener must take many things into account, including size and shape of location, type of terrain, sun and shade patterns, existing walkways, patios, trees, structures and plants; just to name a few. Make sure your designer is aware if you want to retain these within the new design.
Can we use repurposed, reclaimed or recycled materials in this project?
If you’d like to save money and go green at the same time, consider using cost effective, recycled materials. Everything from sleepers to recycled plastic decking. With a little bit of research, you may be able to find most of your needs can be met with sustainable materials, such as reclaimed flagstones, mulch, even aggregate.
Can you provide me with references that I can contact?
Every professional landscaper should have some happy client testimonials. If they have left their opinion in public forums or social media, don’t be afraid to contact them to ask their opinion. Something as simple as “Hi, I saw you used 123 Landscaping. I’m curious if you are still satisfied with their work and would recommend them?” can go a long way in setting yourself at ease, or warning you of potential problems.
Cowen Landscapes is proud to have many satisfied customers. Please check our Checkatrade for some current verified reviews: www.checkatrade.com/CowenLandscapesandMaintenance
How long will the job take? What hours will you normally be working?
Will the workers be there at 6am or 9am? How many hours a day will they be working? Will they be leaving equipment behind when not working? Will they be cleaning up at the end of each day? Do you have neighbours that might complain about unexpected noise or debris? It might go a long way in preventing stress if you let your neighbours know in advance what to expect and when it should be over. If they seem upset, you can always remind them that property values may go up the more beautiful the neighbourhood is.
What education and certifications do you have?
Certificates may not prove that a landscaper is the best choice for your project, however, If they’ve taken the time (and paid the fees) to acquire certification in certain fields, it certainly is one of the ways a professional can show their seriousness and pride in their job. Remember, not every gardener is a landscaper and not every landscaper is a tree surgery. Credentials are one way to differentiate the skill sets required for the job you need done.
What happens when costs exceed budget?
Find out what happens if materials or labour prices change. Also ask what other situations might cause additional charges. If the job is going to go over the original estimate how will the new cost be calculated, by the hour or by the job?
How much, if any, over the actual cost do you charge for the consumables and products used in the job?
You have every right to ask your contractor what happens to the left over materials after the job has completed.
What type of written warranty do you offer?
What happens after the job is complete? Will you be available to assist with questions or concerns? Do you warranty the materials you use as well as the work you do? How long does your warranty last?
Can you explain it to me?
Remember that this is your project. You are paying for it and you have to live with it. If there’s something you don’t fully understand, ask the contractor to take a moment and explain it to you in a way that you understand.
Obviously each job will be different and some of these questions may be unnecessary or they may be important questions not even mentioned here. Use these as inspiration and assistance when dealing with your contractor. Perhaps print this out and use it as a reference or to jot notes on.
Remember, along with the qualifications of your contractor you need to feel comfortable with them. Discuss your needs and make sure you both understand the job.
Here are a few more questions you may consider asking.
- How many people will be involved in this project, how many people are in your crew?
- How long have you been designing landscapes? How long has your company been in business?
- Will the plants I’d like to use thrive in my area? Do they need to be placed in sunnier or shadier spots?
- Can you think of any caveats or problems with my landscaping project?
- Are there any ways to reduce cost?
- Do you offer flexible payment options or low interest financing?
- Do you have liability insurance? Does it cover all of your workers?
- What happens if I’d like to make changes during the job? What happens if the contractor needs to make changes?
- What would you do different if this was your project?
- What will you need from me? Is there anything I need to provide?
- How much maintenance will it take to keep the garden looking good?
- Are there any important considerations or concerns that you know of or that might come up in the future with this project?
- Do you take care of any permits, licensing or local compliance paperwork?
- Are you skilled and familiar with this region and climate?
- Do you have any questions for me?
We are Cowen Landscapes and we’d love to be your Garden Design, Maintenance and Construction Services specialists.
Give us a call, send us a text message or email us and we can discuss your individual needs and set up a free initial consultation, visit your location, come up with a plan and provide you with an official quote.