While it may not seem like there's any technical expertise that goes into landscaping, you'd be amazed at what these professionals can do for your home. From a comprehensive plan for your flowers, shrubs, and trees to stunning stone and brick features including landscaping walls, walkways, and steps; from an automated sprinkler system, pond, waterfall, or pool to a professional outdoor lighting plan that will illuminate your home's best nighttime features, a landscape contractor is the person to call to change your home and your home life. But to get the best and most cost-effective results, you need to know a little bit about landscape design and your options for choosing a contractor.
Landscape Contractors, Landscape Architects, and Design/Build Firms
Landscape contractors can fit into a few different molds. A landscape architect, for example, is an individual that designs your landscape and has extensive knowledge of plant life, land surveying, lawn drainage, and a great eye for landscape design and aesthetics in general. Many professional landscaping companies have at least one landscape architect on staff, in addition to an army of landscape workers. These all-inclusive landscaping companies are also known as design/build firms. Meanwhile, you can also find more low-key landscapers who can help less mobile homeowners plant trees, shrubs, and flowers and/or move mulch, stones, brick to some basic landscaping features. Indeed, many lawn service companies will overlap their services with projects usually considered under the umbrella of landscape contractors.
Professional Landscaping Services: Design, Installation, and Costs
In terms of cost and scope of work, however, these two molds couldn't be further apart. A lawn service company won't "transform" your property, but they may charge only several hundred dollars, maybe a grand or two for larger properties. With a design/build firm, on the other hand, you may not even recognize your property by the time the project is done. If you go all out with an in-ground pool, elegant walkways, and a large patio, the price tag may approach $100,000.
But before you get too far, be sure to discuss what works best for your home and lifestyle. The first thing a landscape contractor can do for you is simply avail you of the enormous landscaping options you have. Grass lawns are still the default landscaping choice, but alternatives are gaining momentum as high-maintenance, irrigation-intensive grass lawns are slowly beginning to lose favor. Clover, moss and ornamental grass are viable alternatives. Xeriscaping your entire lawn is also a good idea. Even ultra-realistic synthetic turf and decorative gravel are on the rise.
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Planning Ahead: Maintaining Your Landscape
Remembering the seasons is something else a landscape contractor is going to bring to your home landscaping. Homeowners tend to focus solely on what their landscape looks like in spring and summer. Late autumn and winter don't have to be void of landscaping features. This can involve not only evergreen trees and shrubs but choosing trees with interesting branches that easily catch falling snow.
When your landscaping project is done, your contractor will also be able to give professional advice and tips for the maintenance your specific landscape will need. Every tree, plant, grass, mulch, etc is different and requires different amounts and kinds of care. Your local climate can have just as much of an affect as the foliage and landscaping features themselves. A little local and expert knowledge can go a long way to keeping your landscaping looking beautiful and with manageable time and financial investments.