Sprucing Up the Outdoors: 7 Questions to Ask a Landscape Pro

Are you ready to give your landscaping a facelift? Just as with an interior home renovation, investing in the grounds surrounding your home should start with a prioritized list of what you want to accomplish with your investment. Create a budget, define the scope of your project and stay within both. When you’re ready to bring in a pro, you’ll want to interview several landscape designers to find one that’s the most qualified for the job.

Here are seven questions you should be sure to ask:

1. What services did you offer?

Most professional landscapers fall into one of three categories: design only, design-build or full-service.

A design-only company is just that: they will inspect the grounds and come up with an overall design, but they aren’t in the business of overseeing the actual work to bring the design to life. A design-build company, on the other hand, not only comes up with a design, but will actually oversee the plant purchase and installation, acting as the general contractor for the project.

A design-build-full-service company, as the name suggests, will design your project, oversee its installation and maintain it on a scheduled basis.

2. Are there examples of your work that I can see?

A professional landscaper knows that prospective customers are going to want to see some of his or her work. If they can’t show you videos, they may be able to get permission from a client for you to take a look at past work. The bottom line is that if the landscape pro is evasive or unprepared to show you examples of his or her work, you should probably move on down the list to the next candidate.

3. What is your process?

This is important because you need to know what your responsibilities are. If the landscape pro you are speaking with limits his or her work to design only, consider whether you’re up to the job of overseeing a complete purchase and installation. You may want to ask if the landscape designer has a contractor he or she can recommend.

4. Do you offer consultations?

A lot of landscape pros are willing to give you a one- or two-hour consultation, in part because they know you’re going to be asked for a cost estimate and they want to get the lie of the land. While the consultation is usually not free, some pros will credit the consultation fee against your bill if you hire them. Find out.

5. What are your ideas for my home?

Once you’ve shared your ideas and your budget, it’s time to take a few moments to hear what the professional would suggest. Don’t be afraid to speak of if there’s something you don’t like or if one of your priorities isn’t adequately addressed.

6. What is your cost estimate?

When it comes to questions about your money, don’t feel shy. If the proposal is more than you want to spend, say so. Ask what can be changed to keep the costs under budget. If a landscape designer has no interest in working with your budget, it’s time to say, “Next…”

7. What is your timeline for the project?

Pertinent information includes how soon the landscape designer can get started and how long the work is going to take. If you are planning to maintain your new landscaping yourself, you’ll need to ask how much maintenance is required.

Your home’s landscaping is one of the first things a visitor notices. If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, it’s also the first thing prospective buyers will notice. Fresh landscaping can help your property look its best.

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