If you aren’t happily surprised whenever you pull up to your home or look out at the backyard, it’s probably time to do something about your landscaping.
Whether you have recently bought a new house or have had the same landscaping in place for some time, it never hurts to put some work into sprucing things up. While you can certainly try to transform your landscaping yourself, it’s generally better and easier to hire a professional landscaping company to do the work for you.
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As you will see, one of the most crucial aspects of improving the landscaping of your yard is hiring the right company. However, establishing a realistic budget and knowing how to get the most value from the work matter too.
How to Hire a Landscaping Pro
A few of things to look for when seeking a landscaping professional include:
- Track Record: How long have they been in business? How many years of experience do they have?
- Reputation: Check online reviews to see what others have to say — and always ask for references.
- Specialists: Does the company employ any landscaping industry specialists? If so, what are their credentials?
- Guarantees: What warranties or guarantees are provided? Typically, companies guarantee their work for anywhere from two to five years.
- Credentials: Is the company properly licensed, bonded, and insured as required by your state? Can they provide proof of these credentials?
Landscaping professionals fall into many categories, and it helps to be familiar with them. Some of the most common include:
- Arborist: This type of landscaping professional specializes in the care and cultivation of trees. Their services include pest control, the diagnosis of diseases, and tree surgery.
- Horticulturist: A horticulturist specializes in the science of flowers and plants. They possess in-depth knowledge of plant propagation, plant genetics, breeding, plant biochemistry, and more.
- Landscape Architect: This type of professional specializes in the layout of hardscape features like paths, planting plans, irrigation systems, design grading, and more.
- Landscape Designer: Similar to a landscape architect, this professional focuses more on the layout of paths and patios, and simple drainage solutions.
- Landscape Contractor: Professionals with this title specialize in installing both softscape features like soil and vegetation and hardscape features, which are manmade features like patios.
Always check to confirm that a landscaping professional is properly insured. In this context, they should possess liability insurance, which protects against damages to your property due to their services, and worker’s compensation, which covers the injury of their employees. A reputable company should be able to provide insurance documents, but these can be forged. A better solution is to check with the Better Business Bureau; to be listed with them, a company must provide proof of bonding, licenses, and insurance.
A great way to increase the odds of hiring a reputable landscaping company is by looking for certifications from leading industry organizations. A few examples of certifications to look for include:
- CLARB: The Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, or CLARB, provides certifications in landscape architecture.
- ISA: To obtain a certification from the International Society of Arborists, or ISA, one must pass an extensive examination.
- ASLA: This organization, the American Society of Landscape Architects, offers a certification for Professional Landscape Architect, or PLA.
- APLD: The Association of Professional Landscape Designers, or APLD, is the only organization offering landscape design certifications in the U.S.
How Much Should You Budget?
According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost to have a yard professionally landscaped falls between $1,434 and $5,303. The national average is $3,260.
By far, the biggest factor affecting the overall cost is the size of the yard. You will pay more to have hardscape features like patios added and less if you stick with just vegetation and soil. Expect the cost to increase significantly if water and irrigation are issues to be tackled. Additionally, the cost of the flowers and plants that you choose will affect pricing as well.
The above figures are pretty general. Fortunately, there are ways to calculate a more specific estimate for the overall cost of your landscaping project.
The first one applies if you are doing a complete overhaul to your home’s landscaping. Obtain the current estimated value of your home — meaning the market value. Depending on how elaborate you’re going to be, you can expect the cost of your project to range from 10 to 15 percent of that amount. Therefore, if your home is valued at $200,000, expect to spend $20,000 on the low end and $30,000 on the high end.
Another way to do this is a bit more complicated. If you can, obtain the total square footage of your property minus the house and other structures. Depending on how involved you are going to get, you can expect the project to cost anywhere from $4.50 to $6 per square foot. To arrive at an estimate, then, simply multiply the total square footage of your yard by those figures. Again, this is just an estimate, and you should also take things like your expected return on investment and existing elements that work into account.
What Types of Plants Provide the Best Value?
A fantastic way to keep landscaping costs in check is by selecting plants that offer value and durability. Here are nine especially great examples:
- Apple Tree: A single apple tree will set you back by $10 to $20. They provide beautiful blossoms in the spring and can be trained to grow in certain ways, which is nice.
- Caladium: This hardy plant offers splashes of color in shady areas; expect to spend around $8 per plant.
- Lavender: Resistant to deer and virtually indestructible, lavender plants cost around $6 to $10 and come in many lovely colors.
- Malden Grass: This gorgeous plant thrives even in dry conditions, growing into an airy mound shape that reaches up about four feet.
- Peonies: These delightful flowers do well in many climates, are very easy to grow and can last for up to 100 years. On average, they cost around $5 per plant.
- Queen Anne’s Lace: Buy this hardy plant from seed for around $3 and use it to fill in your landscaping.
- Sourwood: This shrub changes with each passing season. Expect to pay $15 or more per plant.
- Spiraea: Another hardy shrub, spiraea offers tiny, cascading blossoms and costs $7 or more per plant.
- Swamp White Oak: At around $25 per tree, this oak is an affordable addition to any landscaping project — especially when you consider that it lasts for up to 300 years.
With these points in mind, it should be that much easier for you to get your next landscaping project off the ground.