We’ve just finished renovating our outbuildings, and now we need some help sorting out the garden and yard. But are landscape designers actually worth it?
When making major changes to your garden and yard, employing a professional landscape designer could add between 5-20% to the value of your home when the landscaping project is completed. Choose a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects to ensure you receive a high level of service.
Let’s dig down into this topic in further detail (pun intended!), and discover what a landscape architect does, how much they charge, and what questions you should ask when you hire one…
Is it Worth Paying a Landscape Designer?
If you have a reasonable-sized yard, and you’re not sure what to do with it, it’s definitely worth paying a pro to help you.
A landscape designer will look at your garden (size, geography, aspect, climate) and how you use it (relaxing, growing veg, cooking, parking, kids’ play area), and come up with designs that really work with our outside space and lifestyle.
The professional designer will see opportunities that we mere mortals may have overlooked. They can also suggest features such as water harvesting to make sure different aspects of your garden work together.
Like a buildings’ architect, they’ll look at how you use the garden as the “flow” of movement around it (how people, pets and even vehicles interact with the space).
They will come up with plans that make it clear to you how your garden will look, and that will also give precise instructions to the contractors. There is real skill involved with this stage: take a look at this short (but mesmerizing) clip of garden design in action.
A landscape designer will also look at your budget. Don’t assume that hiring a garden expert is just for the wealthy. This can be arguable though. Budgeting is not always a landscape designer’s scope of services. That’s for quantitative surveyors.
How Much Should You Spend On Landscape Design? (Why is it So Expensive?)
Like any professional service, landscaping comes with a cost because you’re paying for expertise and experience. How much should you spend on landscape design? The recommendation is up to 10% of your property’s value. Some of this cost will be taken up by the designer or architect’s fees.
So, it’s a good idea to start your landscaping journey with a chat with a friendly local realtor. How much is your property worth now, and would a landscaped garden add extra value?
A consultation with a landscape architect will cost around $100 to $150. If you want them to draw up a plan for you, this could cost anywhere between $300 and $2,500, depending on the complexity of the project. Some will charge a percentage of the construction cost or a fixed rate for the services.
To find out more about hiring an architect, take a look at the American Society of Landscape Architects website.
Should I Hire a Landscape designer Or Design it Myself?
This entirely depends on what your garden is like, what skills you have, and how much time you have to spare. If you need any complex hard landscaping or services designing, it’s a good idea to hire in expertise.
However, if it’s a straightforward project with mostly off-shelf furniture and you know exactly what you want to achieve, you may decide to design and build your new yard yourself.
If you’re going it alone and the project is a bit more complex than a couple of new raised flower beds, have a chat with your local planning department or association first, to make sure your plans are permitted (an architect or a planner should take care of any local regs or paperwork).
How Do I Hire a Landscape Designer?
Again, check the ASLA website or ask around locally. If you see a garden you like in the neighborhood, don’t be shy: knock on the door and ask. If they did it themselves, they’ll be flattered by your compliments, and if they hired a designer, you should get a good recommendation.
You can also search Google in your local area. Any landscape designer up to speed with the latest marketing techniques should definitely have a regularly updated Google My Business page and website.
Word of mouth is often a good way to choose any local trade as well. If you can, approach more than one landscape architect and ask them a few questions…
What Questions Should I Ask a Landscape Designer?
If you’re deciding whether to work with a landscape designer, there are a few key questions you need to ask them:
- What services do they offer? Design only, Concept design or construction drawings, project management, a complete design and build service, ongoing maintenance?
- Can you see examples of their work? Ideally in real life, but otherwise, ask to see their portfolio and any previous plans
- How much do they charge? Is there a “menu” of services you can pick from to help you stay within budget?
- Will they come round to your property for a consultation, and if so, is this a free no-obligation service or is there a fee? (If you go with them, the designer will often offset this charge)
- When can they start and what are the timeframes? How do they work?
- If you’re going for a design and build service, you’ll need to know about costs (services and materials), timeframes, who the contractors are, what prep do you need to do etc
Does Landscaping increase Home Value?
We did a bit of research around this, and it seems there is little consensus! According to our findings, landscaping can add between 5 and 20% to your property’s value.
However, there seems to be an agreement that it definitely adds something (but whether it’s worth it, depends on how much you had to spend).
Speak to a realtor early on in your project. The added value will depend on what you’re having done to the garden (will there be a real tangible benefit like a new driveway or an irrigation system, or is it mainly planting focused?), where you live (are all the other homes in the neighborhood landscaped?), and the size of your plot.
Naturally, what it looks like now and its current pre-landscaped valuation will be huge factors in working out an increase. If your home already looks fabulous, there won’t be such a big change.
When Should I Hire a Landscape Designer?
There are a few specific occasions when hiring in some expert help is a no-brainer. These can include:
- If you need complex hardscaping in your yard, especially if it involves incorporating an architect’s and engineer’s input
- For any specialist feature such as irrigation, outdoor structures, lighting, pathways and so on. You can also find designers that specialize in sustainable gardens
- If you are thinking about a more specialist planting scheme and need horticultural expertise
- Just moved into a new build? You’re probably sitting on what looks like a barren wasteland at the moment, and a designer will know just what to do with it to bring your plot to life
- Thinking of selling? Or maybe your home has been on the market a while, or your yard, frankly, isn’t up to the standard of the neighbors’. A spruce up by professional garden team could be the X factor that grings that coveted kerb appeal
- You look around your yard, and you simply don’t know what to do with it. It may be worth just paying for an hour or two’s worth of professional consultation to give you a few ideas
What’s The Difference Between a Landscape Architect/Designer and a Landscape Contractor?
It’s the same as with buildings: the landscape architect designs the scheme and creates the blueprints, and the landscape contractor carries out the works. In some cases, the contractor may have the skills to do both.
If you go for a design and build service, the company you engage will provide you with both designer and contractor. The designer sometimes acts as project manager, or this can be a role taken over by the contractor once the plans have been agreed. The contractor will organize any subcontractors such as electricians.
In the future, the contractor may also be able to provide ongoing maintenance for your new and improved yard, more like a conventional landscaping service.
If like us you’re considering having some serious work done in the yard, then hiring a landscape designer is definitely a good move.
Getting a professional to plan your landscaping project can mean a 5-20% uptick in the value of your home – so it’s very much worth considering.
After all, you’d always employ an architect to make structural changes to your house – so why not do the same for major alterations to your yard? 🙂