Working with a New Jersey Landscape Designer

Front Landscape Lighting by Horizon LandscapeProfessional landscape contractors have many jobs, and assisting customers with the redesign of their outdoor space is one of them. If you’ve decided to update your yard, it’s a smart idea to hire a landscape designer so that you get the yard of your dreams. Similar to the inside of your home, the outside is an investment that will give your home curb appeal, increase its value and provide you with more function to do what you love.

Let’s discuss how to work effectively with a landscape designer so that the project goes above and beyond your expectations.

NJ Landscape Designers

One of the biggest missteps that people make is choosing a landscape designer that doesn’t have the skills or experience to meet their particular needs. Instead of feeling frustrated halfway through the project, determine what your needs are and find a professional that can meet these demands.

Landscape designers specialize in the aesthetic and horticultural aspects of yard and garden design, and can also help with structural work.

  • Grading – Keeping water away from the home and determining how high up a foundation can be so termites do not get into the house.
  • Drainage – What do you do with the water that does accumulate in the wrong place? Where does it go and how did it get there? Sounds simple, but this is why many people end up with water problems.
  • Carpentry – Landscape designers look for problems with decks, wood steps or siding on houses that have been buried under poorly graded areas.
  • Electrical – Some yards have wires running everywhere – especially when DIY owners decide to run electric to their shed or garage, or put up lighting around their deck. Landscape designers can also help with the nighttime landscape using decorative lighting to extend the landscape season.
  • Plumbing – What about that barbecue grill, outdoor sink or kitchen? This requires planning.
  • Masonry – This is not just laying block or brick but the artistic side of a great landscape. Beautiful custom masonry add incredible character and beauty to the project.
  • Plant knowledge – What plants can be planted, and what zone is the plant able to grow in: shade, sun, sandy soil, rich humus bearing soil, dry, moist, soil conditions.
  • Plant health – Maybe the plant is the right height for the location and meets all the requirements for that area, but why is it still not looking good? Sometimes, landscape architects have to be the doctor, determining why some plants look great and others are looking sickly. They have to diagnose and treat those plants so they do great in the landscape.
  • Irrigation systems – The plant and turf need a great watering system or nothing will look good in a few weeks. Systems are designed to take into account the watering needs of all the different plants. It is not just a matter of throwing water everywhere. A great system requires plant and soil knowledge that often comes from years of experience.

Experience and Training

Award Winning Landscape Team WyckoffLandscape designers are not regulated or accredited, they will carry advanced training and some will not. Many landscape designers are self taught and very talented and others may have grew up in the family business or are gifted at what they do. Others will have a stronger background with educational experience. Pay attention to what the landscape designer is experienced with: residential or commercial work.

The best approach is to get references from friends, family and neighbors. Look into online reviews, and view the designer’s portfolio. You want to ensure that their personal work style matches your needs. Finally, don’t hesitate to interview the landscape designer. It’s important that you have good communication and are compatible with them.

NJ Landscape Contractors

Once the design is in place and are ready,  you’ll need to choose a landscape contractor. Landscape contractors are responsible for implementing the designs that the landscape designer created. Some will have advanced skills, and others will not. Good communication and listening skills are essential to a successful project. At Horizon Landscape, we have a sign that reads: “If you think hiring a professional is expensive – wait until you hire an amateur!”

And we see it happen daily…

Use the same precautions when hiring a landscape contractor: check references, view their portfolio and interview with them.

Set a Budget

Budgets are very important in the landscape design world. This tells your landscaper exactly what you’re looking to spend, and it will prevent frustration down the road. You’ve probably heard many stories of designers over- or under-spending, and the project didn’t come out as planned. With a target cost in mind, your landscape professional can show you sketches and materials that fit your budget instead of showing you things you can’t afford. Landscape designers are very good at stretching dollars and fitting a project according to your budget. They know which methods, materials and arrangements get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Know Your Vision

Landscape designers are available to help, so if you’re not sure exactly how you want things, that’s okay. Your designer will help you make the best decisions for your budget and layout. At the very least, you should have a basic vision for what you want, as this helps your landscape designer work within some parameters. For instance, do you prefer balanced, “formal” well-defined spaces, or do you enjoy a free-form look? Do you need hardscaping? What amount of maintenance are you willing to give each day?

Providing helpful documents such as a plat of survey and questionnaires will give the landscaper some direction. Pictures are worth a million words, too! Cut out pictures in magazines, create boards on pinterest and Houzz or take your own photographs of elements you like in your friends’ backyards or at the local garden or park. If you see something you like – get a picture of it.

Listen to Feedback

It’s very helpful when you can lead your landscape designer in the right direction, but you should also be open to feedback and suggestions. Landscapers have knowledge and experience that the average person does not, and they may be able to recommend a better option. The scope of your project is only limited by the creativity and imagination of the landscape designer. By showing that you’re willing to try new things, your landscape designer will be more open to making suggestions.

Revamping your yard should be a fun and enjoyable experience. When you choose the right landscape designer, you can bet that your experience will be positive. Look for someone who listens, understands your vision and respects your budget so that you can have your dream yard in time for fall!

Call Horizon Landscape in Wyckoff, NJ  today at 201-848-0022 to start designing the property of your dreams!