Do any of the following describe your situation in the garden:
- You don’t mind doing yard work, but you aren’t sure how to manage your property.
- You have good ideas, but a tight budget.
- You want to improve your property over time, but you are not sure where to start.
If any of these scenarios sound like you, a landscape consultation may be just what you need.
Depending on the company that you choose, landscape consultations can be set up in different ways, and you may be able to structure the results to fit your needs. A consultation can be a meeting with or without a written report, or you may prefer to end up with a landscape design. If you do not choose to get a written report, make sure you take notes so you can refer to them later.
Upon contacting a landscape company, it is important to understand what will happen at the first appointment. Many companies offer free estimates for project work, but will charge for a consultation if you intend to do the work yourself. Beware of the temptation to bring someone out to get their ideas for free though. Most professionals are careful about giving away too much information up front, and this is likely to be a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, ask what a consultation will cost, and what will be included. If you would like a written report, ask for one and see if this is a service that can be provided. Be specific if you have a problem that you would like addressed or ideas that you would like to discuss, because this may determine which landscape professional is sent to your appointment.
How much will it cost?
A consultation is essentially purchasing a professional’s time and expertise, so the cost will often be billed at an hourly rate. $60-$125 per hour plus travel time is not unreasonable, and of course the cost can go much higher. If you choose to take your own notes, you can get a lot of information in a one hour consultation. If you would like a written report, expect to pay for several additional hours of work.
Consultation vs Landscape design
For a more detailed plan, a landscape design may be the best option for you. A comprehensive design will take far longer than a consultation, as much as 10-15 hours for a typical suburban property, but will give you much more detail. Although this is more expensive initially, it can be an excellent investment. And because a final landscape design includes a plant list, you can save money in the long run by using your design to purchase plants appropriate to the site and placing them in the right location.
Selecting your landscape professional
When selecting any contractor, it pays to do your homework. Ask about membership in professional organizations, certifications, and education. Make sure you are comfortable with the company, their level of expertise and professionalism. And when you are done, enjoy using the information you get to create a beautiful property!