Landscape contractors work from outdoor architectural or design plans to build and install hardscaping or softscaping for the client, much as a general contractor uses architectural designs to build a house. Landscape contractors are experts in soil drainage, grading, hardscaping (installing concrete paths and retaining wall, building ponds, etc.), and planting. They have heavy equipment such as excavators and tractors to prepare the land as needed.
Some landscape contractors are also landscape architects or landscape designers. The titles can be compared with those in home construction: A building or landscape architect must earn a specialized architecture degree and pass an exam to have a license. A designer — whether an interior designer or a landscape designer — does not usually require a license to work. Landscape contractors are not required by law to work from plans designed by a landscape architect, so you may work directly with the landscape contractor to specify the work you’d like done. The national average cost for large-scale landscaping projects is $10,160. Pricing can vary greatly depending on the project scope, materials and design.
Hiring a landscape architect is an investment in your home. Landscaping can reduce water bills, improve your home resale value, add to your daily living experience and significantly boost curb appeal. A landscape architect will draw the designs for your new landscape; you’ll want to hire a landscape contractor to carry out the plans. Many companies provide design-build landscaping services, with a company architect creating plans for your vision and the landscape contractor executing the vision. With the proper academic background and licensing, a person can be both landscape architect and landscape contractor. Here are a few tips for finding a great landscape architect:
- Research online portfolios and find several landscape architects whose work interests you.
- Read online reviews of client experiences.
- Research whether the landscape architects you are interested in are currently licensed and in good standing with the licensing board, and check whether any complaints have been issued against them. Each state will have their own searchable database. For example, you can search for California landscape architects via the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Request bids from your selected landscape architects.
- Hire the one you like the most, taking care to have a clearly written contract outlining scope of work.
For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
Landscaping can be costly — though it usually pays off in curb appeal and home resale value — so finding a landscaper who is worth the investment is important. When hiring a landscaper, look for proven success with the type of results you want. For example, if you know you want a drought-tolerant yard, research websites, reviews and portfolios that showcase beautiful drought-tolerant yards that the landscaper has installed. In addition to relevant experience, you’ll want to find a landscape contractor who has good client reviews. Good communication skills are another important quality in a landscape contractor, since everything from plant selection to hardscape installation needs to be discussed and agreed upon. A landscape contractor who is reliable, easy to understand and able to listen to what you want will help make the process seamless and enjoyable.
The national price range for tree trimming is $270-$450. Tree trimming is often done by a professional arborist who is trained to safely trim and prune trees for both the health of the tree and the safety of the residents and their property. Trying to do your own tree trimming is not advisable unless you have the proper know-how. Tree trimming companies may charge an hourly rate for their services. The hourly rate may be higher or lower for different trees to reflect the relative safety measures, skill, equipment or people power needed to handle the job. For this reason, most tree services provide free estimates.
One example of an hourly rate for professional tree trimming services is $150 per hour. Costs may be under $100 or could be higher than $300 per hour, depending on variables such as proximity to buildings, health of the tree, height and diameter of the tree, and type of tree trimming desired. Geography and regional cost of living and regional costs to do business will also play a role in your tree removal costs.
Once you have a tree cut down, you’ll probably want to remove the tree stump as well. You may want the stump removed for aesthetics, the tree stump could be diseased, you might want to prevent regrowth, or you may find the roots are causing problems and need to be removed. Tree removal costs don’t always include the cost to grind out or dig out a tree stump after the tree has been felled and the trunk removed. The national average cost for stump removal ranges from $150 to $200. There are two main methods for dealing with tree stumps. In grinding, pros use a chipping machine to grind away the above-level tree stump until it sits just below the soil surface. Tree stump removal entails lifting the entire root ball of a tree out of the soil. Removing the stump will leave a hole in the ground and also take more time, labor and money than stump grinding. Here are some examples of average tree stump removal costs:
- Stump grinding: $2-$4 per inch.
- Tree stump removal: average of $60-$350.
The final price will depend on the stump’s size, condition, location and condition of the soil around it.