Identifying the players

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When you've decided that you want to hire professionals to help with all or some part of your landscaping project, you have plenty of choices. There are lots of players on a landscaping team. Here's a quick primer (in the order you may hire them, from design through construction and maintenance):

  • Landscape architect: A landscape architect is trained to understand and practice design on a sophisticated level. That said, not all landscape architects are familiar with — or care about — sustainability issues; be sure to find one who is. Remember that the landscape architect can design your project, but she can't build it.
  • Landscape contractor: Most landscape contractors are capable of carrying out a wide range of construction tasks, from grading and planting to irrigation, hardscape, lighting, and more. Some contractors have good design ideas; others are mainly hired to install what the landscape architects design.
  • Gardener: Even sustainable landscapes require some maintenance. After your landscaping project is done, you may want to hire a gardener to maintain it. Most gardeners aren't capable of doing much landscaping work beyond putting in some plants. Finding qualified gardeners is difficult — most have no formal training and are more outdoor housekeepers than horticulturists. And few of them pay attention to sustainable-landscape maintenance.

You may be able to find a reputable gardener by asking your green-leaning friends about who takes care of their gardens. Some communities offer sustainability training for gardeners and can provide a list of certified graduates; these folks are a better bet than simply picking somebody out of the phone book.

Because your new landscape is much easier to care for than a nonsus-tainable one, you may be able to do most of the maintenance yourself. You may need only occasional help for heavy work.

  • Arborist: Specially trained to care for trees, the arborist is a certified professional; look for certification by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  • Tree trimmer: Tree trimmers may or may not be certified. Quality of care varies widely. A good interview question is whether the tree trimmer does tree topping. If the answer is yes, look elsewhere. Topping trees is a discredited practice, and no qualified professional does it.

The best approach is to hire a company that sends at least one ISA-certified person on each job. This way you know you're getting a real pro.

Others you may need: In some states, irrigation work must be done by a licensed plumber or irrigation contractor. And if you suspect that your property has unstable soil or other geological problems, call a consulting geologist. A civil engineer may help you design retaining walls and other structures. Pest control problems are best handled by a licensed pest control advisor or operator. Be aware that licensure and the exact details of these professions vary from place to place.

You may also want to turn to your local nursery for help. Aside from selling plants and supplies, nurseries can offer advice on planting design. Another possible resource is landscape supply stores, which sell tools, equipment, and landscape materials such as gravel, tile, stone, brick, irrigation materials, and so on. They can often recommend landscape professionals, too.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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