1. What services do you offer? First and foremost, determine what services a landscape designer offers to see if he or she is the right person for your project. The best question a potential client can ask is: ‘Are you experienced with the scope of work we want, and can you design and manage it?’Generally speaking, landscape designers fall into one of three categories, depending on the services they offer:
Design only. Some designers specialize only in the design process. This typically includes a site analysis and discussion of a client’s needs, a preliminary design, revisions based on your feedback, and a final detailed master plan for your garden. This detailed planting plan and construction document is then handed over to you (or a landscape contractor of your choosing) to take it from there.
Design-build. Others offer the design service described above, as well as overseeing plant purchase and all installation. Contractors are needed for permitting and hardscape installation — sometimes the landscape designer is also a registered contractor, and other times they have landscape contractors on their team or ones to recommend and oversee.
Full service — design-build and maintenance program. For the highest-touch service, some landscape designers will offer all the above, plus oversee ongoing maintenance of the garden.
Don’t expect an initial consult to be free of charge — it is, after all, two hours of a professional’s time — though some designers will put the consult fee toward the cost of the design if you end up hiring them.