Landscape designers can transform a space using all sorts of disciplines – hard landscaping, lighting, planting and turfing. Whatever the job, here’s some advice on finding and hiring the right landscape design company in your area.
A good landscape designer can help you get the most out of your outdoor space, shaping it to work best with your lifestyle. Before you hire anyone - think about what you want to achieve. Do you want space for children to play? Is it important for you to have entertaining space in your garden? Are you interested in an ornamental area or do you want something neutral that could work for anyone? Having even a vague brief will help you to get the best from your landscape designer.
Find an accredited landscape designer with Which? Trusted Traders. Read on for more advice about how to hire a landscape designer.
A good starting point is recommendations from friends, family or neighbours. Look for landscape designers with plenty of reviews and check their profile photographs and company websites. Have they undertaken work similar to yours? Do they specialise in a particular aspect of landscape design, such as hard landscaping, decking or turfing?
If you notice a garden that you like in a prospective landscape designer’s portfolio, it’s worth contacting the trader to find out if the customer might allow you to visit. At the very least, perhaps you could hear about their experiences via email or on the telephone. Good landscape designers will happily put you in touch with several previous clients.
Ask about their qualifications. A good landscape designer may well hold a related degree or be a member of one of the recognised trade associations in the area, such as the Association of Professional Landscapers (APL), Society of Garden Designers (SGD) or the British Association of Landscape Industries. Although it is no guarantee of quality, being a member of a trade association usually requires traders to hold appropriate insurances and undergo regular inspections. See our article on trade associations and industry groups for more details.
It can be hard to get like-for-like quotes since each landscape designer will probably approach the job slightly differently, but you should give your requirements to at least three companies before deciding which to hire.
When your prospective landscape designer visits your property, you should have a good idea of what you want to achieve. Share a budget with the designers if you have one – the good ones will happily tell you what can realistically be undertaken.
Get quotes in writing and make sure you understand the difference between a ‘quote’ and an ‘estimate’ – see our guide to avoiding cowboy traders for more information.
Before any work commences, your landscape design company should supply a written contract of works. The contract, at its most basic level, should include details of the work to be undertaken, a schedule for payments and a timeline.
Other things to look for in the contract include:
• What happens in the event of unforeseen extra charges?
• Are there any penalties if the work is finished later than anticipated?
• What happens in the event of prolonged adverse weather?
• What time does work begin and end each day? What happens at weekends?
• What materials will be used and who will supply these?
• Will outsourced labour be used?
• How will rubbish be disposed of? Is there an extra cost for this?
• Is appropriate public and employer’s liability insurance mentioned?
• What happens in the event of any work not meeting a satisfactory standard?
Information about insurance and guarantees should be attached to the contract, as should any drawings or other designs.
Your contract should include details of how payment will be made.
Ordinarily, a deposit will be taken before work begins. You might then pay a series of instalments depending on the size and nature of the work.
The final instalment should only be paid when you are satisfied with the work and have received all necessary paperwork relating to it.