Need Landscape Design Help? This is The Time to Plan for Spring

The great thing about landscape designers is that they help expand your horizons and present you with exciting possibilities. Professional designers spend every working day solving problems most of us only face once or twice a lifetime – no wonder they have better landscape design ideas than we do!

A landscape or garden designer has knowledge and training on plants and landscape construction and can provide you with drawings, construction details and lists of suppliers and plants. Landscape architects have a degree and belong to a licensed professional association; they generally do higher-end residential or larger commercial projects. Be sure to check credentials, references and ask to see a portfolio.

Designers and landscape architects can help the process of finding a contractor, getting permits and overseeing your project to completion.

Landscape design costs

It’s difficult to generalize about fees, as they vary quite a bit, depending on where you live, the experience and training of the person you hire, and the scope of your project. A full landscape design (drawings showing landscape features and planting plan) can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over $1,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the design and the overall budget of the project.

Landscape designs for free? Too good to be true?

Be careful when garden centers or contractors offer “free” design services. They may be more interested in selling their plant inventory than creating a design that meets your needs. And the people hired to do these designs are generally not as experienced as someone who has invested time and training to become a professional landscape designer. Nothing is really free: design costs are built into the mark-up on plants and materials.

You say formal, I say casual

Be as clear as you can about what you want – a good reason to have pictures on hand. Garden magazines are full of inspiring ideas. Be upfront too about how much you have to spend. Professional landscaping usually costs a little more than you think it will.

Think ahead, way ahead

Every spring, landscape madness grips every neighborhood in the country. “Let’s do that project we’ve been thinking about,” everybody says, all at the same time.

Spring fever means that landscape designers and contractors are run off their feet. If you want your work done early in the season, contact landscape pros the previous fall or in early winter – they’ll love you for it – and you’ll have their full attention.

Fall can be a much less hectic time to have a landscape project done – and it’s still warm enough for construction and planting in many parts of the country. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to live where winters are warm, landscape projects can be spread over more months of the year, but even so, spring is still a busy time.

Can We Just Get Along – 9 Keys to Healthy Relationships Between Landscape Designers and Contractors

How does a landscape designer ensure for a prosperous and beneficial relationship after finding a quality landscape contractor or other sub-contractor? Fortunately this doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these 9 important steps.

9. Have the landscape project site prepared for your landscape contractor

If you want to frustrate your landscape contractor beyond belief, schedule them to start and not have the site ready for them when they show up–it’s not pretty. Landscape contractors want to run efficiently just as we do. Respect this and ensure the site is ready for them to begin their work. This can include having materials on site, any staking and tagging that needs to be done and other construction trades out of the way.

8. Nurture your relationship beyond the project site

Building a positive and friendly relationship beyond your landscape businesses can lead to trust and respect which carries over to the project site. There are many ways to foster a positive relationship. You can take the contractor to lunch or coffee; take them to a baseball game, etc. I know of many companies who have an annual “contractor appreciation” party.

7. Present opportunities to bid and work on unique projects

Just as landscape designers prefer to work on high-end prestigious projects, so do landscape contractors. Give them the opportunity to take part in projects they can be proud to have their names associated with. Your contractors will invest more of themselves in unique projects and the results will show.

6. Insist on two-way regular communication

Nothing frustrates me more than when my sub-contractors don’t return my phone calls promptly. A close second is when a contractor doesn’t call me when a landscape design decision needs to be made on site. That said, communication works both ways which means we need to do our best to promptly inform our contractors when schedule changes occur, substitutions are made, etc. Discuss your expectations regarding communication before you begin working together.

5. Maintain control of the landscape project but don’t micromanage

This can be a difficult balancing act. The key is to work with landscape contractors you trust to complete the work to your standards the first time around. Put your trust in them, and let them do their job. Your landscape contractor doesn’t want you looking over their shoulder. This leads to hesitant decision making and frustration on their part.

4. Clearly define the scope of the landscape project

Our landscape contractors want to know exactly what they are responsible for on each project. This leads to more accurate pricing of course. It also leads to less confusion regarding “who’s doing what” between sub-contractors. Here are three ways to clearly define the scope of the landscape project:

1. Provide each sub-contractor with a detailed outline of their responsibilities as well as those of the other sub-contractors.
2. Provide Construction Documents- this includes landscape construction details as well as clearly written specifications.
3. If necessary, hold a “Pre-Bid” meeting on site with all sub-contractors and discuss #1 and #2 above.

3. Pay your contractors immediately

Everyone wants to be paid on time; this is a no-brainer. Provide your landscape contractors and other sub-contractors with a deposit as early as possible and pay the contract balance immediately upon completion of the project. No contractor likes to call and ask for money. I don’t like to get the awkward call from my contractors…so pay on time.

2. Value your landscape contractor’s expertise

Perhaps the biggest frustration I hear from landscape contractors and other trades is that their experience and expertise is not appreciated by landscape designers. Believe it or not, there are other people who know more than we do. We have to show our contractors respect by listening to their ideas and suggestions. We will learn more this way and in the process earn the mutual respect from our contractors.

1. Clearly communicate your expectations

Just as we need to clearly communicate the scope of a project, we also need to candidly communicate our overall expectations to our sub-contractors. Most important is the quality of work we expect. But this also includes expectations regarding scheduling, payments and warranty work. Another expectation that should be discussed is employee conduct. Do you want landscape contractors with uniforms or are you okay with shirtless contractors running around your site? What is your policy regarding smoking on site?

We need to set these expectations up front before working together.

Commercial Landscaping Service

What to Look For In a Commercial Landscaping Company

Finding a commercial Phoenix landscaping company that can achieve the exact look that you want without compromising quality and environmentally sound practices can be quite tricky. There are landscaping companies out there that focus just a little bit too much on the aesthetics, and not on the equally important groundwork like irrigation and pipeworks, soil testing, bush fire prevention, and greenery maintenance.

If you’re currently on the search for a good commercial landscaping service that can turn your Phoenix property into a beautiful horticultural haven, there are a couple things you may want to consider aside from their rates. Sure, rates and costs are usually the first things you will look at, but more importantly, you should look at the specific services that the commercial landscaper offers.

Landscape Construction and Maintenance

A good commercial landscaper should be able to coordinate and work with you regarding your desired look, design, and landscape layout. This is also why it helps to have at least a clear idea of how you envision your property to look like after landscaping work has been done on it – so that the main idea or theme will come from you, and the company will talk you through how that specific look can be achieved. The company should also conduct a site visit before they give you a definitive amount for their charges and construction expenses.

A good landscaper will also offer you maintenance services as part of their landscaping package. This means that their work is not and should not end with just the commercial landscaping construction. You should also ask the landscaper about their customer service.

Irrigation Installation

As mentioned, a good landscaping company will also thoroughly construct and examine the necessary pipework and irrigation system of the landscapes they create. The pipes and valves of the water supply system should be in good working order to ensure that the plants and trees in your landscape won’t wither and lessen the beauty of the landscape. For the environmentally conscious, it would also be nice to get a Phoenix landscaping service that follows principles on water conservation and engages in other environment-friendly practices.

If you’re looking for a good commercial Phoenix landscaping company, you should also check if they’re certified by your local business bureau and have the necessary permits to operate in the area. For example, the contractors and employees working with the company should be backed by the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, Arizona Certified Landscape Professionals, and Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, to name a few. If available, you should also check out their portfolio so you can get a glimpse of the work they’ve done in and around the area.