Working With A Landscape Designer

Are you ready to hire a landscape designer and start your property design and installation process? Are you not sure of how and when to hire a landscape designer?

No matter what time of the year, the best time to start your property transformation planning is now. It can take weeks or months to begin after the initial design, depending on the scope of the installation.

Landscape designers typically work on residential properties. A landscape designer works with plants and generally has experience with hardscaping. Keep in mind, to do any actual work that might require a city construction permit, a licensed landscape architect or contractor needs to be brought onto the project.

How to select a landscape designer

Ask your family, friends, work colleagues and neighbors for landscape designer referrals.

Search the internet and look at examples of designers’ past work on their website and social media. Ask yourself questions such as: Do you see a design style that you would like for your property? Does the designer have an extensive knowledge of local plant material? Do you like their use of colour combinations?

Decide on the services you need a designer to provide. Landscape designers generally fit into one of the three following service categories.

Design only

This first category describes designers that have an area of expertise of the design process only. The designer will participate in the consultation and provide a concept sketch or detailed master plan. The designer will visit with you, look at the property area, take photos, and ask about preferences forplants, hardscape and discuss your budget. The designer will then create a conceptual or mater plan design. A plant list with quantities isalso provided.


Design and build.

The second category is the design service outlined above. Plus, the designer will oversee the plant material purchase, delivery and contactor installation. Ask how long the designer has worked with a recommended contractor and how well work together. The best results are achieved by a strong team effort between the designer and contractor.


Full – service.

The final category includes the aspects of design and build, but also includes the options for property maintenance servicesafter care.


Preparations for your initial meeting

The next step starts with the assessment of your desires, needs, and the conditions of your property. Key questions include if a design is necessary for the entire property, or just the front yard or backyard? Do you require a sitting area, patio, BBQ area, garage/shed, pond, children’s play area, vegetable garden, or trees for privacy and shade? Is there a particular vantage point: do you look at your garden primarily from a particular window, such as from your living room, kitchen, or patio?

Set a realistic budget. Determine when you need the installation completed. When you start selecting the designer let them know if there are any installation deadlines such as a party or open house.

Remember that gardens require continued care.  Determine how much time you have to maintain a garden after the installation or if you will be arranging for on-going maintenance.

The landscape design consultation

Contact the designer of interest and have an initial short phone discussion about the property. If there is a fit, make arrangements to meet the designer for a consultation.

The majority of designers will have a set consultation fee to be paid at the time of the meeting.

At the consultation the designer will provide initial ideas anda vision for your property. An estimate for the time required to complete the design will be provided. The estimate of fees of a designer will reflect the service required, size, and complexity of the property transformation.

Let the landscape designer know your budget. This is very important for the design process. It can be very disappointing to not be able to afford the installation of a landscape design. You might then require a re-design to bring down the costs.

The landscape design completion and installation quotation

The next step is to accept a designer’s estimate and proceed with the creation of the hand rendered or computer generated landscape design. Depending on the scope of the project the designer will produce preliminary concept sketches. A review the sketches will determine if there are any necessary revisions. Then the designer will create the final designs ready for quotation.

The length of time it takes to design and install a landscape depends on numerous factors. The size and scope of the of the project, availability of contractors, ordering plants and materials, wet weather, and potential setbacks all contribute to a start and estimated finish date.

Installation and maintenance.

At this point, you may be asking, what is the estimated project cost? It is now time to meet with the selected contractor to review the design and scope of work to provide the installation estimates. Professional landscape installers, such as Cohen and Master, provide superb service and attention to detail.

Finally, if the project estimate meets the budget and requirements, then you are then ready to sign a contract and get started! Now in a few months you can sit back, relax and enjoy your new beautiful outdoor space!


Article written by Joan de Grey, owner of Joan de Grey Landscape Design. She works with residential and commercial property owners to provide full-service landscape design services within Toronto.
She can also be reached through Sheridan Nurseries Landscape Design Department.
Please contact her for questions or to set up a consultation.
Joan de Grey Landscape Design –