Landscape Design Prices and Proposals

How to compare landscape design prices and proposals?


We have a 1/3 acre, pie-shaped lot on which we've taken an old farmhouse and expanded it into a new, in-city residence. We're now ready to do the planting (after putting in the driveway, walkways and steps leading to the porch). We are a plant and tree loving family, but we know very little about genus, species, etc.

I have two very different proposals to choose between - at two very different prices. They each have a sketch and a long list of plants which I cannot evaluate. I need someone to look at these two proposals and tell me which is the better use of our money. If I send these proposals (by fax or by email), can I get some advice?

Thank you.

ANSWER

Yes, you can send them to me. Due to my work volume, I will charge a modest fee to do this. Please get in touch with me via my Contact Form and I will respond so that we can correspond.

In the meantime, there are some things to watch for when you are comparing landscape design prices. In your situation, you are looking at two different designs. So you not only have to evaluate costs, but also the designs.

When evaluating landscape design prices and proposals for two different designs, you can't really compare apples to apples since they will be quite different. However, you can keep some things in mind.

1. Plant sizes - contractors often keep costs down by using smaller plants. A plant size can be rather greek to a homeowner since they are not used to seeing what specific sizes look like in the landscape. Plants look very different in a garden center than they do once planted. The pot alone makes a plant look larger since it is raised!

2. Amount of trees - trees add height and scale to a landscape...without them a design can look quite flat. Check the number of trees and the sizes also. A tree which is 8 - 10 feet tall or a 2.5 - 3" caliper is a very nice sized tree. If you go down a size, it will still be ok, just not as dramatic. Of course in a year or two they wil be close to that size anyway.

Evaluating a landscape design is more difficult.

1. Are the plants massed rather than single varieties all over the place? Massing creates a design that will flow.

2. Is the design layered? Where room allows, layers provide a more interesting and full design.

3. Is there interesting color provided throughout the seasons?

4. Are there height variations? Various taller plants should be placed here and there so that everything is not the same...and boring.

5. You might consider having the contractor provide you with a 3D design, or at least some elevations sketches so that you can visualize things better.

In my ebook, Patio Plans For Inspiration I show some designs that are done in 2D (AutCAD) and the same design in 3D. Some people can read a 2D design, but most cannot really visualize how the design will look. I have a good friend that I did a walkway design for. Now she could have asked me anything about the design. When it was installed, she said to me "Oh, I had no idea that it would look like this...it's lovely!"

So ask as many questions as you need to help understand the landscaping that will be done.

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"Susan,  what a pleasure it was to work with you.  You made me feel like I was your only client - responding late at night and always so quickly!  Your design is amazing and we only hope we can do justice to it when we plant.  You have such fantastic ideas and you are so open to suggestions and changes.  Loved working with you - now if you could only come to Canada and plant it!!!"
Helen, Ontario-Canada 

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