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.
Keeping a lawn lush and green requires consistent mowing, weeding, watering, fertilizing and more. If your lawn is particularly large, it may make sense to hire a full-service lawn care provider. Whether you take a DIY approach or bring in the experts, maintaining your lawn requires a range of tasks.
Plan to mow the lawn often, allowing it stay longer than may seem convenient — longer grass is healthier grass. The general rule is to cut off no more than a third of the grass blade. This helps prevent damage to the lawn as well as keeping weeds from taking root. It’s also important to remove any weeds, then prevent new ones from growing. In spring, consider spraying a pre-emergent herbicide on your lawn to prevent crabgrass and other types of weeds from sprouting from seed. During other seasons, broadleaf weeds like dandelions can be pulled by hand or sprayed with weed killers. The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning, allowing the sun to help dry the grass. Make sure to thoroughly soak the lawn so that the water penetrates several inches into the ground.
Lawn care also requires feeding; look for a mixture of fast- and slow-release fertilizers that include nitrogen. Some lawns also benefit from aeration, which creates small holes to let air, water and nutrients penetrate the grass roots. Although most homeowners can manage these tasks on their own, a full-service lawn care company can handle them on a regular schedule, taking the guesswork out of maintaining a beautiful lawn.
Having a beautiful lawn doesn’t just happen by magic. A multi-pronged approach to lawn care will result in a healthy lawn that will have your neighbors green with envy. The national average price for multi-service lawn care ranges from $40 to $50. Whether you tackle the project yourself or hire a lawn care professional, looking after your lawn requires consistent work. A baseline of lawn care is keeping your grass mowed and your irrigation system working properly. Fertilizing plants and grasses, as well as trimming and pruning foliage, may promote the health of your plants and lawn. Many lawn care pros offer different packages with varying monthly fees depending on your lawn size and the services you desire. Here are a few examples of average lawn care prices:
- 1,000- to 2,500-square-foot lawn: $60-$90 per month
- 5,000-square-foot lawn or larger: $110-$150 per month.
- Includes lawn maintenance, cleanups and irrigation repairs. The company trims shrubs, pulls weeds, blows out yard waste, fertilizes and does minor irrigation repairs.
- Up to 8,000-square-foot property: $30 per week/$120 per month.
- 8,001- to 15,000-square-foot property: $35 per week/$140 per month.
- 15,001- to 20,000-square-foot property: $40 per week/$160 per month.
- Includes mowing all turf grass areas; trimming grass away from fences, structures, trees, and lawn edges; and clearing or blowing all grass trimmings from driveways, sidewalks, curbs, etc.
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.