How 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.

How to Pick a Landscape Designer, Landscaping Company, or Landscape Professional
Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

Landscaping ideas are great, but without the right landscape designer or landscaping company to bring them to life, they're just ideas. Landscape designers—or other landscaping professionals, including landscape architects—can offer guidance on installing outdoor features, including some landscaping ideas that boost home value. They take yards beyond simple lawn care tips to spaces that feel like extensions of the indoors, and picking the right one is key to a successful working relationship—and a stunning yard.

Fortunately, picking a landscape pro is not a free-for-all. Picking someone you can work well with and how can deliver the landscaping design ideas you want is easy—you just need to know who (and what) to ask. For an easy guide to picking a solid landscape designer, we turned to Missy Henriksen, the vice president of public affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). Read on for Henriksen's quick-and-easy guide to finding the best landscape designer for your needs—your gorgeous yard will thank you soon enough.

1. Talk to Friends and Neighbors

"Talk to friends and neighbors about companies they've worked with and have successful relationships with," Henriksen says.

Someone in your circle is bound to have a tried-and-true landscaping pro they'd recommend, and a positive reference from a trusted friend can be as reliable as dozens of online reviews.

2. Check Memberships

"We recommend that homeowners look to work with companies that are members of a local or state or national association," Henriksen says. "Those companies have the most up-to-date information and are really current in their networking with peers on different trends. There's a lot of trend talk that happens in association communities and support on the technical know-how, safety, and best practices."

3. Ask About Experience

Henriksen suggests asking the company (or companies) you're considering how long they've been in business and whether they've done similar types of landscaping projects before. An experienced designer or company can lead to fewer delays and other minor snafus during your project.

4. Look at Their Work

Seeing the specifics of projects the professional has done in the past—and noting how they turned out—can give you a sense of the success of your own landscaping project if you were to work with them. "Check their work, obviously," Henriksen says. "Companies will all have portfolios to show. Certainly talk with references." If a pro refuses to share a portfolio or references, consider it a red flag.

5. Request a Job Site Visit

"Ask to visit a job in progress, if that's a possibility," Henriksen says. "Note the professionalism that's taking place on that job site."

A sloppy or poorly managed work site is a bad sign—especially if your landscaping project will take more than a few days. For quick projects, like updated landscaping ideas for the front of the house, it might not be as big of a deal (but is still worth noting).

6. Read the Contract

Ask for a sample contract to understand what you're buying, the materials that will be used, timetables, and details of that sort before you sign anything. If buying local is important to you or the project must be completed by a certain date, talk to the professional about adjusting your contract accordingly.

For more guidance on picking a landscape designer or other landscaping pro, check out NALP's complete guide here.

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