One of the questions I get asked most often is “how does the process of hiring/working with a landscape designer work?” While many of my clients have built homes or have hired contractors for work inside their homes, they feel apprehensive about hiring a designer for their exterior and worry they don’t understand how the relationship will unfold well enough for them to take the first step toward their dream exterior space. As it turns out, the process is very similar to hiring an interior designer, from start to finish, including hiring contractors and installing the project. The following is a loose step-by-step of what to expect when you hire an exterior designer for your home:
Do your research and choose a designer
There are registered landscape architects, landscape designers and contractors who will offer to design your landscape. Knowing how much and what kind of help you will need with your project will direct you in choosing which of these is right for you.
Once you’ve chosen a designer that you feel fits your budget and design needs, your designer will meet with you on your job site to discuss your ideas, style, budget and a timeline/phasing for the implementation of the project. If you can, provide a site plan, survey or inspiration photos. This initial meeting will get the ideas flowing so the designer can start to envision what will be best for your space.
Your designer will use the information provided through the consultation and design a preliminary plan to communicate the overall layout he or she envisions for your site. This is usually a small, loosely-drawn sketch with a few details. An inspiration board with colors, textures and specific items may also be provided if needed to communicate the style the designer is imagining for your space.
After the preliminary plan has been reviewed and you’ve communicated with the designer the things you like, don’t like, and would like to change, the plan is revised into a final plan. This plan will have more details and will include things like specific paver patterns and colors, specific plant names and quantities, and so forth. There is still room for changes at this point, but the plan is pretty refined in this stage.
Once you settle on the final plan, your designer can help you bid the project to a list of trusted contractors. The designer can receive bids on your behalf and answer any questions the contractor may have about the specifics of the job. Having the designer handle this part of the job can be really valuable!
Installation and Observation of Construction
Once you settle on the right contractor and arrange the details, the designer will observe construction while the plan is being installed to ensure the work meets the design vision, and answers any questions you or the contractor have along the way, especially if on-the-job decisions need to be made.
Catherine Arensberg is an exterior designer who specializes in finding ways to create your ultimate outdoor space, no matter the budget. Browse more of her work here: catherinearensberg.com