First off, do you require a landscaper or a landscape designer?
Landscape DesignerThis person is often educated at a university or horticultural college. They will specialise in the design of private gardens and commercial landscapes. Similar to the way in which you would have a separate architect and builder for house construction, you may wish to have a designer give their unbiased views on your design ideas, then translate them into a workable plan. A landscape designers plan is perfect to explain your ideas to a landscaper, thus allowing you to receive comparable quotes for the work from many different landscapers. If you are "hands on" or DIY minded, then often an easy to read garden plan will allow you to install the garden yourself. In this way, what you spend employing the designer, you may save in landscaper fees, many times over. Essentially, a garden or landscape designer will be able to design outdoor spaces and advise on tree & shrub planting, paths, walls, water features, lighting and all other features associated with your outdoor living space.
The landscaper or landscape ContractorThis person will have the ability to implement plans prepared by a landscape designer. Some landscapers are what is called "Design and build landscapers" offering a design service followed by installation of the design. This can be a great service, but be aware that some landscapers may only add elements to your design that they have the ability to source or implement. In such cases, the design can often be as much for the landscaper as it is for you the garden owner. Aside from this reservation , a landscaper is ideal if you have neither the time or the expertise to install your ideal garden paradise. Professional landscapers will be well able to prepare the ground and then install plants and hard landscaping (paving and walls, etc.) as described in the landscape plan.
Some tips on selecting a landscaperWhen the landscaper arrives to see your site, did the contactor arrive on time? Professionals usually arrive on time, start as you mean to go on.
Make sure the landscaper has public and staff liability insurance.
Ask for customer references and then phone those references.
Ask to see some newly installed work, make sure this work is similar in scale to what you want done. Bear in mind that newly installed landscapes may look sparse; a good landscaper will not overcrowd plants in a garden. They will allow plants the space they need to achieve their mature size in two to three years.
Select a landscape contractor based on a combination of price and the quality of past projects and references.
Ask for start and completion dates. Are allowances made for weather (it is Ireland after all)?
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