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Choosing a Landscape Designer

Find the right landscaper expert and make your yard the envy of the neighborhood

By Jan Soults Walker

Designers and architects aren't just for creating top-notch interiors. A good landscape architect or landscape designer can visualize and shape outdoor spaces to harmonize with your home, boost curb appeal, and entice you outdoors.

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Barbara Eberlein
The landscaper (or other outdoor design professional) you choose should know all about plants for your area plus demonstrate a knack for combining plants with hardscaping (borders, walls, decks, and other structural components) in a way that complements your home. That's no small feat—which is why finding a good landscape designer or landscape architect is a worthwhile endeavor. Here's how to select the professional that's right for you.

The search is on

An online search is a good way to begin your quest for an outdoor design professional. First, check out organizations that educate and promote landscape architects and designers.

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), for example, their members typically hold a bachelor's or master's degree in landscape architecture and must pass a rigorous exam to be licensed. You can find one near you via the ASLA online search tool.

Landscape designers may not hold a four-year degree, but that makes them no less professional and skilled. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) is one organization that provides continuing education and certification for its members. Check out the APLD search tool to find a member near you.
Peruse websites for individuals and groups of landscape professionals, too. Well-designed sites often feature a portfolio of completed work, giving you a glimpse into the level of talent and scope of projects.

In addition to doing online research, ask friends, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations. Use social media for suggestions as well.

A good match

Once you've gathered names of professionals who interest you, start with a phone call and chat about your project and budget. Use the responses to narrow the field to a few choices, then meet with these select few in person. Discuss your goals and budget more thoroughly. You're looking for a skilled professional who listens well and interprets your desires. Ask for references of homeowners who undertook projects similar in scope to yours. Good candidates will be happy to provide contact information for references as well as openly discuss fees and answer questions about their services. Follow through by contacting each reference.

Time to choose

Ability, price, and references all play into your final choice, and you also want to make sure that the pro you're considering uses a contract that's understandable, thorough, and protects both parties. Once all those boxes are checked, hire the landscape designer or landscape architect that you connected with best and who understands your expectations.

For more home design ideas and advice, check out:

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