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Choosing a Landscape Gardener

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 27 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Landscape Gardener Garden Gardener

You could be in the market for the services of a landscape gardener if you decide to completely redesign your garden. A landscape gardener may also be useful simply to maintain and develop a garden if it's too much for you to do on your own.

Gardeners, Garden Designers and Landscape GardenersSo what's the difference between a gardener, a garden designer and a landscape gardener? There are no real hard and fast definitions and there is a lot of overlap, particularly with garden designers and landscape gardeners.

The essential difference is that landscape gardeners tend to work on a larger scale than garden designers, actually changing the 'landscape'. They also tend to look after a garden or plot on a long term basis rather than changing the garden and then leaving it once it's finished.

Some definitions refer to garden design as a subset of landscape gardening, and many companies cover both services. People working solely as garden designers will come up with a design for a garden and may not be involved in the actual transformation, although many will. And a gardener is someone who tends an existing garden and doesn't usually make decisions about major changes.

Finding a Landscape Gardener

So if you are looking for a landscape gardener how do you find them and how do you go about choosing someone, or a company? Finding candidates is the first task and you should be looking to fill a long list of between six and ten. Although the Yellow Pages and other business directories will give you a list of landscape gardeners working in your area, personal recommendations are far better.

See if you can find any friends, neighbours or family members living close by who have used the services of a landscape gardener in the past. Failing that, ask around in other social groups such as the local church, down the pub or at sports centres, anywhere you go where you bump into acquaintances who might know someone who uses a landscape gardener.

If none of those avenues deliver any results then the business directories and local advertising newsletters will give you a list of names. You could also check the Association of Professional Landscapers who have a postcode based search for affiliated companies on their website.

Choosing a Landscape Gardener

Once you have a long list use the phone to contact them and find out what you can about them. Ask what kind of work they do first because many of the larger companies only take on large projects like business parks, local authority buildings and the like. Ask if they would be happy to let you talk to other customers and see their gardens and ask how they structure their prices.

They will tell you that they can't quote until they've discussed what you want and seen your garden, which is reasonable. But you ought to be able to find out if they price jobs by the hour, or per project, or have monthly retainer rates if they are to maintain the garden as well as landscape it.

Choosing From the Shortlist

Once you have whittled your list down to a shortlist of two or three, ask them to come and meet you, see the garden and discuss the work and prices. Not only will this allow them to find out what you want, it will also allow you to meet them and see how you get on with them.

If you think you could definitely work with one or two of the landscape gardeners on your shortlist, it's at this point that you should ask about references. Ask to see gardens that they have landscaped and look after and to speak to their customers too. If any of them baulk at this point then it's time to look for someone else.

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