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.
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.
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.
If you have to remove a big, beautiful tree from your property, you’ll definitely need an arborist. Cutting down a massive tree without the proper tools or training can lead to major property damage or injury. A huge tree may need to be removed if it is diseased or dying and poses a safety risk, has suffered a blow from a storm and isn’t safe, or is growing into your home, your home’s foundation, your septic system, or your power lines. Removal costs for such large trees will depend on the tree’s height, diameter, and relative safety and accessibility, as well as whether you also need the felled tree and stump removed. The bare minimum for removal of a tree over 75 or 80 feet would be $1,000. This may not include tree quartering and removal or stump grinding. Stump grinding ranges on average from $2 to $4 per inch of the stump’s diameter. There is no set price as each situation is unique, so it’s always best to have an arborist give you a quote and detail exactly which services are included in the price.