Need Landscape Design Help? This is The Time to Plan for Spring

Yvonne Cunnington

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The great thing about landscape designers is that they help expand your horizons and present you with exciting possibilities. Professional designers spend every working day solving problems most of us only face once or twice a lifetime - no wonder they have better landscape design ideas than we do!

A landscape or garden designer has knowledge and training on plants and landscape construction and can provide you with drawings, construction details and lists of suppliers and plants. Landscape architects have a degree and belong to a licensed professional association; they generally do higher-end residential or larger commercial projects. Be sure to check credentials, references and ask to see a portfolio.

Designers and landscape architects can help the process of finding a contractor, getting permits and overseeing your project to completion.

Landscape design costs

It's difficult to generalize about fees, as they vary quite a bit, depending on where you live, the experience and training of the person you hire, and the scope of your project. A full landscape design (drawings showing landscape features and planting plan) can range from a couple of hundred dollars to over $1,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the design and the overall budget of the project.

Landscape designs for free? Too good to be true?

Be careful when garden centers or contractors offer “free" design services. They may be more interested in selling their plant inventory than creating a design that meets your needs. And the people hired to do these designs are generally not as experienced as someone who has invested time and training to become a professional landscape designer. Nothing is really free: design costs are built into the mark-up on plants and materials.

You say formal, I say casual

Be as clear as you can about what you want – a good reason to have pictures on hand. Garden magazines are full of inspiring ideas. Be upfront too about how much you have to spend. Professional landscaping usually costs a little more than you think it will.

Think ahead, way ahead

Every spring, landscape madness grips every neighborhood in the country. “Let's do that project we've been thinking about, " everybody says, all at the same time.

Spring fever means that landscape designers and contractors are run off their feet. If you want your work done early in the season, contact landscape pros the previous fall or in early winter – they'll love you for it – and you'll have their full attention.

Fall can be a much less hectic time to have a landscape project done – and it's still warm enough for construction and planting in many parts of the country. Of course, if you're lucky enough to live where winters are warm, landscape projects can be spread over more months of the year, but even so, spring is still a busy time.

Garden writer, photographer and lecturer Yvonne Cunnington gardens on a country acreage, where she has plenty of space to try out the new plants and garden design ideas that she writes about. She is the author of a book for beginner gardeners, Clueless in the Garden: A Guide for the Horticulturally Helpless. For more gardening tips, visit her website, | For more garden planning ideas, click on


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