Should you hire a professional?
Whether you're a business owner looking for commercial landscaping or a homeowner thinking of landscaping the backyard, chances are that you're torn between doing the job yourself and hiring a landscaping contractor to do it for you. If you're mulling over this decision, you're probably thinking about money and that hiring a contractor potentially presents an unnecessary expense.
While hiring a landscaping contractor is certainly more expensive than not hiring one, it's important to consider the return on that investment. You should ask yourself if that return would be greater than if you did the project completely on your own. Even if you don't hire a contractor for the entire job, you can still do yourself a lot of good by visiting with a contractor and getting their advice and landscaping ideas. Here are some of the things your contractor can do for you.
Above all, a landscaping contractor can give you a design for your new landscape. Obtaining a professional design will help your pocketbook in many ways, from keeping the project on task (rather than having you guessing what comes next) to increasing a home's resale value. Any professional landscaping contractor will have at least one designer on staff to help you meet your needs.
In many respects, a designer is a detail-oriented salesperson full of helpful landscaping tips. Most companies will arrange for their designers to meet with you to create a design and a cost estimate for free, with the hope they can drum up business. As a potential customer, you can get the most of this meeting by preparing a list of questions beforehand.
Meeting with a Landscaping Contractor
During your meeting, the designer will want to know your planting preferences, the scope of work to be done and the budget available for the project, so keep your questions geared toward these aspects of your landscape. Such preparation will keep the meeting brief but focused, so even if you don't hire the contractor, neither of you feels shortchanged by having spent too much time together. You should receive a printed design and cost estimate within a week or two, at which time the contractor will expect to know if they've made a sale or if you want the design changed.
Even if you don't hire the company do the work, you likely have the option to buy the completed design for anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on the time they've put into it. And if the design is generated by landscaping software, the landscape designer should be able to throw in an estimate of the materials you need. These estimates are likely to be more accurate than what you could calculate by hand, given that the software accounts for irregular shapes when figuring the quantities of weed mat, sod and mulch.
Time vs. Money
If you decide to hire a landscaping contractor, you can expect to have the job completed in a professional and timely manner. This is an important item to consider if your project has a tight deadline or if you question your own ability to do the job. What might take you a month of weekends might take them only a day or two, and the time you would have spent working in your yard now becomes time you can spend relaxing in your yard.
The bottom line is that hiring a contractor can save you money, whether it's on a small part or the entirety of your landscaping project. They have the resources, the equipment and the manpower to get the job done, and they're an indispensible source of information.
By Ehren Wells