Selecting a Qualified Landscape Designer

Creative landscape design begins with a well thought-out plan. Designers are truly artists in their own right. It is a delicate combination of unbridled imagination and cost-effective practicality that is the foundation of an exemplary landscape plan.

The first step in creating an excellent design is selecting a first-rate designer.

There are several criterion you should consider when choosing the right person for the job. This sounds much simpler than it actually is. There are some smooth-talking “salespeople” out there making a commission on everything they can sell. This often leads to over-planting. Over-planted landscapes wastes money both at installation and down the road in maintenance. Look for a designer/ Syracuse NY Landscaper that plans for a plant's long-term growth (10-15 years) and uses lower-maintenance plants.



A capable Syracuse New York Landscaper should also have expertise about plant varieties as well as “hardscape” elements such as walks, patios, decks, lighting and retaining walls.

Education: Does the person have a formal education in landscape design? If not, what in-depth training did they receive to render themselves a competent designer? Although a formal education does not make or break a designer’s credentials alone, it should be an important consideration in your overall decision.

A college education by itself provides only a basic knowledge of landscape design and related subjects in horticulture (i.e. disease, insect and plant identification, soils, landscape construction, and design theory, etc). Find out where your prospective designer obtained their schooling as the plant varieties and construction techniques taught in more temperate climates may be completely irrelevant in Central New York. A designer’s real education comes after college when he or she applies what they have learned and continues to sharpen and update their knowledge of specific products and plant varieties.

Is your Syracuse Landscaper is a Certified Nursery Professional (CNP)? This is a type of state-licensing program in which the recipients must pass a difficult exam covering all aspects of horticultural information. It also requires the person to update their knowledge on a yearly basis with seminars and workshops. Being certified and having a formal education shows commitment!! It tells you that Landscape Design is a career choice.

Experience: How long has the designer been designing landscape plans? Does he or she have any hands-on experience installing landscapes? Field experience often gives a designer a practical view of their ideas and a concern for cost-effectiveness. Experience is also very important as it can be considered an education in and of itself. Nothing beats first-hand knowledge of microclimates, growth habits or construction techniques.

Creativity is really a gift; however, in landscape design it must be tempered with practicality. If not, you may get an absolutely beautiful plan that is either physically or financially impossible to install. Discussing an approximate budget can greatly decrease the possibilities of this happening.

Portfolio/References: Ask your candidates if they have pictures of their previous work and look through them carefully. Also ask for a list of references. Talking with a previous customer can tell how a designer was to work with. Were they flexible? did they see the project through?

Design Fees: In this day and age, just about everyone knows that you can’t get something of value for nothing. Most companies charge a fee for their design services. Sometimes this is fully or partially reimbursed back to the customer when the job is installed. These days, we can’t all afford to pay several people a design fee of $100-$600 just to look a different ideas. This is why the initial screening process is very important. Select someone you are confident in, comfortable with, and who has a genuine concern for your needs. Asking questions and talking with past clients will save disappointment later. Also a “free estimate” should not usually include the plan. If it does, the plan should be returned uncopied to the designer should they leave it with you to review.

Selecting a Syracuse NY Landscaper is the most important initial decision you will make when landscaping your property. Purchasing your home was a sizable investment. Given the years, a well thought-out landscape will last the test of time. The extra time you invest now in finding a qualified designer seems a small price to pay.