6 Tips to Pick a Landscape Designer Who Can Give You the Yard of Your Dreams

A landscape designer can turn your patch of land into an outdoor wonderland—but it’s all about picking the right one.

Landscaping ideas are great, but they are just ideas if you don’t have the right landscape designer or landscaping company to make them happen. Landscape architects and other professionals who work in landscaping, like landscape designers, can give advice on how to put in outdoor features, such as landscaping ideas that increase the value of a home. They do more than just tell you how to take care of your lawn. They can make your yard feel like an extension of your home. Choosing the right one is the key to a good working relationship and a beautiful yard.

Choosing a landscape is not a free-for-all, which is good news. It’s easy to find someone you can work well with and who can give you the landscaping design ideas you want—you just need to know who (and what) to ask. We asked Missy Henriksen, who is the vice president of public affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), for a simple way to find a good landscape designer. Read on for Henriksen’s quick and easy guide to finding the best landscape designer for your needs. Your beautiful yard will thank you soon.

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1. Talk to your friends and neighbors

Henriksen says to ask friends and neighbors about companies they have worked with and had good experiences with.

There’s a good chance that someone in your circle can recommend tried-and-true landscaping, and a good word from a trusted friend can be just as reliable as dozens of online reviews.

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2. Look into memberships.

Henriksen says that homeowners should look for companies that belong to a local, state, or national association. “Those companies have the most up-to-date information and are really on top of networking with peers about different trends. Association communities talk a lot about trends and offer help with technical know-how, safety, and best practices.

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3. Ask about past work.

Henriksen says you should ask the company (or companies) you’re thinking about how long they’ve been in business and if they’ve done landscaping projects like yours before. A designer or company with a lot of experience can help you avoid delays and other small problems during your project.

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4. Look at what they did.

You can get an idea of how well your landscaping project will turn out if you hire a professional by looking at the projects they have done in the past and how they turned out. Henriksen says, “Of course, check their work.” “Each company will have something to show. Talk to your references, for sure.” If a pro won’t show you a portfolio or give you references, that’s a red flag.

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5. Request a Job Site Visit.

Henriksen says, “Ask to see a job in progress if that’s possible.” “Take note of how professional everyone is on that job site.”

A messy or badly run worksite is a bad sign, especially if your landscaping project will take more than a few days. It might not be as big of a deal for quick projects, like coming up with new landscaping ideas for the front of the house (but is still worth noting).

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6. Check out the agreement.

Before you sign anything, ask for a sample contract so you can see what you’re buying, the materials that will be used, timetables, and other details. If buying from a local business is important to you or the project needs to be done by a certain date, talk to the professional about making changes to your contract.