Landscape Planning

Landscape Consultations

Jennifer NicholsField Notes

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.
  • With a tight budget, you don’t know how you can execute on your great ideas.
  • 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. A consultation can be a meeting with or without a written report. However, if you do not choose to get a written report, make sure you take notes so you can refer to them later.

Setting Expectations

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 they will charge you for a consultation if you intend to do the work yourself. Therefore, most professionals are careful about giving away too much information up front (their ideas aren’t free!). This can result in 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! Be specific upfront if you have a problem that you would like addressed or ideas that you would like to discuss. 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 including travel time is not unreasonable. And of course the cost can go much higher depending on the brand. If you would like a written report, expect to pay for several additional hours of work. However, you can get a lot of information in a one hour consultation simply taking your own notes. 

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 – typically 10-15 hours for a typical suburban property. Although this is more expensive initially, it can be an excellent investment. A final landscape design includes a plant list; therefore, 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.

Choosing a 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!