Landscape designers often come
from other design disciplines (Engstrom worked eight years in interior design,
for instance) and are unregulated; that is, they are not required to pass a certification
test to work in the field. Designers tend to be a cost-effective option for most
residential projects that don't require heavy engineering expertise. For this
reason, they typically charge less; most are in the $50-$100 per hour range. Professionals
such as Engstrom have earned voluntary certification from the Association
of Professional Landscape Designers. The association's Web site is a good
place to look for APLD-certified designers.
Landscape architects, by contrast, have four-year
degrees in their discipline; serve a lengthy apprenticeship; must pass the Landscape
Architect Registration Exam; are licensed in 47 states; and typically work on
commercial and public works projects as well as larger residential projects. They
may be a good choice if your landscaping challenge involves unusual grade changes
or extensive hardscaping, where some engineering expertise might come in handy.
But be prepared for steep fees: Top landscape architects fetch anywhere from $150-$250
per hour or more. You can find one at the American Society of Landscape Architects
says she spends about 30 hours and bills about $1,500 for the average residential
landscape design; $2,000 if it involves acreage.
if you're considering using a landscape designer, hire them before you build.
times, people don't contact a landscape architect until after the sidewalk is
poured, the driveway is poured, the deck is built, and the landscaper comes in
and says, 'Oh wow, we could do this if this wasn't already done.' You should contact
the designer early; they can turn that rectilinear straight walk into a nice curving
path. We can use brickwork and stone to give it a higher aesthetic quality than
You just might save a few trees, plants
and other foliage in the process.
"Hiring a landscape
designer can help you see the future and design for the present," he says.
"I have yet to find a client who was not happy they did it. Most of them
say they wish they'd done it years ago."
MacDonald is a contributing editor based in Mississippi.