Hiring a Landscaper

IMG_6008Dreaming of that beautiful outdoor living area where friends and family can gather for barbeques and pool parties?  You’re probably wondering how to accomplish what you want. Here are few simple steps to get you going in the right direction and ultimately leading you to hire the right landscaper and planner for your needs.

Step 1
Measure your yard.
Also make a rough sketch of what is in your yard (cement patio, spa area, etc.) By doing this you can get a clear sense of what will fit in your yard (such as various trees, patio furniture, pool, etc.). This will help you better visualize what can actually be done to your yard with the amount of space you have.

Step 2
Decide what your budget will be. Your budget may be big or small. Landscapers will work with you on almost anything you need, whether it’s an entirely new yard with all the built ins you can dream of, or if you just need a new sprinkler system and a few new plants.

Step 3
Start jotting down ideas and collecting photos. If you already know what you want in your yard make a list. This list will help you better convey to a landscaper what you would like to see in your yard, your list may look like this~

Trees (fruit trees)
Flowers (tropical?)
Green foliage
Architectural styles
Water features (koi pond)
Spa, jacuzzi
Built in BBQ

If you don’t have any ideas start doing some homework. Look at pictures of landscaping ideas online, so that you have a visual to go off of and/or go to garden supply stores and look at some of the books they have on landscapes. You also need to think about what effect your yard will have, for example you may want to have a contemporary Hawaiiana effect, or maybe a Southeast Asian Bali effect with bamboo, large leaf plants and lots of palm trees and exotic fruit trees (like mangoes). A good way to decide what effect would be best in your yard is to consider your house style.

Step 4
Find a local landscaper. This step is probably the most nerve racking. If you’ve never hired a landscaper you may not know where to begin your search, but the best place to start is by going online and looking for landscapers in your area. By using the internet you can send out your needs to many landscapers at a time via emails. This will ensure that many landscapers get to bid on your project and give you in home estimates. You can also use references from friends and families. Make sure you get at least 3 landscape contractors to give you estimates after looking at the yard to be done. Be sure to let the landscaper know exactly what you want, or at least the feel of what you want, this is where the list you made earlier will come in handy.

Step 5
Get references and begin looking. Once you have narrowed down your search, ask for references of jobs the landscaper has recently done, then call people who have used the landscaper or go to the sites and take a look for yourself. This will give you a better feel for the landscaper. Things to ask would be things like: did the landscaper get the job done in a timely manner, did he listen to all concerns of client, did he stay within budget, did he clean up and take care of any debris left by crew, etc.

Step 6
Select your landscaper and have the landscaper draw up a contract. Once you’ve decided, have them meet with you at your home once again. This way the landscaper can reassess your yard. Ask the landscaper to bring the design they might have been working on for your yard (this step may come after you have agreed to hire the landscaper to do an initial design and budget).  Review what you want for your space, what kind of plants and feel you want to accomplish along with any built ins or furniture you may want. (note: many landscapers don’t usually bring in patio furniture or fountains or other items that don’t deal directly with the yard itself, this may be something you need to budget for separately and do on your own.)

Step 7
Before signing the contract make sure you have everything you want covered in the contract. Don’t assume that the landscaper will remember which plants you want or when you want to begin your project. Make sure you get EVERYTHING in writing, especially the project cost. Sign the contract and begin breaking ground!

Step 8
Enjoy your new Outdoor Space!

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