Hiring a professional landscape designer to improve your backyard can save you time and money – plus you’ll end up with a higher quality result! Here are the top five reasons to hire a pro:
A professional landscape designer can help you come up with a big picture vision to build your dream backyard. With a landscape master plan, you can chose to either tackle the entire project all at once or break it into bite-sized phases that can be spread out over several years.
When you have the big picture, you can make better decisions. For instance, why have 30 tons of top soil removed for your patio installation this year, only to have 30 tons of top soil delivered next year when you decide to build terraced flower beds? Why plant trees now only to uproot them next year when you decide it’s time to install your dream pool or hot tub? Why plant a fast-growing shrub or tree next your house today, only to have to move it or cut it down in a year or two when it outgrows the space and blocks the view from your windows? Expensive rookie mistakes like that won’t happen when there’s a professional on your side.
“I have 16 years experience in landscape design and installation, and know what phases should be done and in what order,” said Joshua Gillow , owner of MasterPLAN Landscape Design & Installation. “A master plan is the most efficient and cost effective way to improve your backyard.”
Every kid who’s ever played with Legos thinks he knows how to build a wall. Unfortunately, building retaining walls in the real world isn’t child’s play.
A poorly built wall can buckle and topple over, creating a potentially dangerous situation. Other outdoor structures, like decks, can also collapse if not installed correctly. This can not only dampen a fun, outdoor party, it can potentially hurt your visiting friends and family. Gillow has a degree in architectural design and engineering, and knows what will work structurally and what won’t. “I’ve been building patios for more than 16 years,” Gillow said. “Building a porch or patio isn’t something you should do as a hobby on the weekend.”
Just as Virgil guided Dante through the underworld, a professional landscape designer can guide you through the maze of local zoning laws, permits and forms necessary to complete your backyard project. Even small projects can require approval from local officials.
For instance, in Easton, Pa., projects that require zoning review and approval include the installation of fences and retaining walls, swimming pools, accessory structures, decks, and driveways. Failure to earn the necessary approvals, and you may find yourself not only having to re-do the project to meet a different standard, but you might also have to pay a fine. “I’m constantly working with local governments and inspection agencies,” Gillow said. “I work one-on-one with land zoning officials when creating master plans. Unlike someone doing it alone, I know the ropes, and can provide the additional research that may be necessary for a project to pass inspection.”
The Better Business Bureau recommends that all home and business owners ask their contractors to show proof of insurance. Contractors should carry two types:
General Liability Insurance. This covers damage if the contractor accidentally damages your property or your neighbor’s property.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance. This covers the injuries and other expenses of a worker who is accidently hurt while on your property.
Without that insurance coverage, you may be financially responsible if an accident or injury occurs on your property. “I am a licensed contractor with the Pennsylvania Attorney’s General’s Office, and of course, I carry insurance,” Gillow said. “We hope we never have to use it, but it’s good to be prepared.”
Hire a professional landscape designer and you won’t have to worry about the thousands of details that the designer will take care of for you. From what plants do best in the shade and sun to how to pitch a patio so it won’t send rainwater into your basement, landscape designers take the uncertainty out of backyard projects, leaving you to do the important work: relax in your beautiful, new backyard.