One of my all time favorite quotes comes from a great designer and former president of the APLD (Association of Professional Landscape Designers). Harry Schuster said is well. “All things being equal, a well-designed landscape costs just as much to install as an ugly one.”
It seems so basic it’s frustrating to even have to mention but even with the popularity of home improvement and building, owners are paying the same amount for ugly that could be paying for incredible.
More often than not, homeowners skip the services of a professional landscape designer for the very reason many people expect their builder make design decisions about their home rather than an architect. The job of a builder is to build, not design. Similarly, the job of a landscaper is to install the landscape. He should not be expected to bring his own design to the table but rather be excellent at installing the plan he has been given at a decent price.
It’s a very simple progression and is the standard for almost everywhere in the world except Southwest Missouri. I feel like a lot of people from the Ozarks assume that hiring a designer, or architect for that matter, is expensive. Why spend the money for a design when the installer can do it for free? I argue with the deepest of gastrointestinal intuitions (gut feelings) that the small amount you spend for professional design is far less costly than the time and money spent in the field by you and your contractors fixing, undoing, redoing, trying out, and so on.
BEWARE OF FREE DESIGN!!! Most landscape contractors offer free design. Just remember, their goal has less to do with good design than profitability and selling you something. The old adage couldn’t be more true that “you get what you pay for” and free design is usually worth just that.
Designer’s need to be better at promoting their services. Builders and installers need to understand their role and demand to work from a plan rather than make one up. And owners need to wise up about what is available that makes best use of their money. If we all as professionals do what we do and do it as best we can, we all get to participate in something wonderful and rewarding. Hire a designer. Hire a landscape contractor. Enjoy.