Everything you need to know about finding a landscaper
When it comes to landscaping and gardening, a well designed landscape can add value to your home and ensure that you and your family enjoy your outdoor spaces. With the trends going towards usable outdoor spaces and outdoor living, it is worth engaging the services of a professional landscaper to ensure that your garden does what you want it to.
What is Landscaping?
Landscaping is simply the art of designing and constructing a garden. There are two elements to landscaping – hardscaping and softscaping. Hardscaping simply refers to the inanimate parts of the garden such as retaining walls, decks, water features and so forth. Softscaping is the living part of the garden- the plants, trees and grasses.
What do Landscapers do?
Many landscaping professionals offer a wide variety of services including:
Horticulture: This is a fundamental part of landscaping and gardening, as horticulturalists will usually have a background in natural sciences, and work as landscapers or botanists. Horticulturalists (or landscapers with knowledge of horticulture) should have extensive knowledge including the size plants will grow to, the colour variations throughout the seasons and the suitability of certain species to your space (also see horticulture).
Landscape design: Most landscapers will draw up a design to enhance the look and practicality of your outdoor space. This includes flora choice and layout, as well as design elements such as paving, pathways, water features, walls and other innovations. For more info see landscape design.
Landscape construction: Once the landscape design has been finalised, the landscaper will undertake construction. If it's a new property, the landscaping will be designed from scratch. Existing spaces can be renovated or enhanced. Construction usually involves the use of heavy machinery, particularly if earthworks or excavations are needed. Brickwork, joinery and tiling will also come into play if this is part of the design. For more about this stage see landscape construction.
Landscaping project management: To ensure your new garden and landscape are completed on time, on budget and to a high standard, a reliable manager is a crucial part of the process. Sourcing a reliable project manager is an important factor to consider, given that he or she will manage and coordinate the many contractors that will turn your plans into reality. To find out more see landscaper - project management.
Typically, landscaping professionals design the garden, put the project into place and manage the project, and ensure that the various elements of the job are being completed on time.
Gardening, more so than landscaping, is about the ongoing maintenance of the garden to keep it looking its best. There are plenty of maintenance tasks to undertake such as:
Mowing the lawn
Weeding the garden beds
Replacing and/or adding plants
Pruning shrubbery and trees
Ask yourself if you are prepared to undergo the maintenance required or if you would prefer to get a professional in to do it for you. There are many professional landscaping and gardening companies that will do the work to a high quality for a reasonable cost – leaving you to reap all the rewards!
If you are planting new plants yourself, a nursery will be able to help you select the correct plants for your area. Choosing plants for your local conditions means that they will thrive.
There are several things that will affect the way that your garden is designed and planted. These include if you have pets, if you have children, if you want to entertain or simply relax, if you need a pool or spa, the usability of your garden (growing vegetables and herbs etc), the amount of maintenance you’re prepared to undertake, and the budget that you have.
A landscaping project can be quite considerable cost-wise, so a good rule of thumb to try and stick to is to not spend more than ten percent of the total value of your home on the garden. This amount of money includes all of the elements of the garden, not just the plants. If you have a limited budget initially, try to spread the project out over a number of years as your budget allows.
Because a new garden is such an outlay, try to keep the design as simple and classic as possible, so that it will be lasting and timeless.
Hiring a Landcaper or Gardener
A landscaping professional is able to carry out many services for you such as consultation, design, coordination of tradespeople, liaising with local governments, helping obtain building approvals and development applications, sourcing of materials and handling of payments. This comes under project management and the professional may charge a fee for this service so it is best to ask what their fee is, if any, before hiring them. If you have had a garden design drawn up, ensure that the design is as detailed as possible, so that the quotes you receive are accurate.
Also ask to see the professional’s qualifications, references and ask what experience they have had. You want the professional to share your vision so comfort with the professional should be a major factor in your decision.
If you are a hiring a professional to do garden maintenance, ask what their fees are for various services. Compare these fees in order to get an idea of how much things cost. Ask what experience they have and ensure that you see their qualifications. If possible, get references from other clients.
How Much Does a Landscape Gardener Cost?
Hourly rates for landscape gardeners can vary widely from $50 per hour to $250, reflecting either experience or the the complexity of the job. Expect to be quoted a flat fee for a project, which can be broken down into labour and materials. Jobs that involve installation of water features and intricate irrigation fixtures will obviously be charged at a premium.
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