What Is a Landscape Contractor and When You Might Need One?

What Is a Landscape Contractor and When You Might Need One?

Landscaping
Outdoor and Gardening
Outdoor Additions
By Ani Mouradian June 21, 2021

aA few days of consistent sun and our gaze inevitably lands on our backyard or front lawn After all, these outdoor spaces deserve our love and attention too. And although homeowners are the ones that make the decision to give them that attention, it’s a landscape contractor that can skillfully transform them. Landscape design and contracting is a profession that involves art, technology, skill, and creativity. It is a trade that might surprise you with how many subtle nuances and creativity it involves. Landscape contractors do what they do with the goal of implementing garden design and aesthetics, human enjoyment and safety, and ecosystem sustainability.

Who Is a Landscape Contractor?

Landscape contractors are the professionals in charge of planning, executing, and maintaining landscape architecture designs. Landscaping projects can be divided into two main types: softscaping (designing and planting bushes and plants) and hardscape projects (the planning and construction of larger features like fountains, concrete paths, or outdoor kitchens). A landscape contractor almost always deals with both, while a landscaper usually just takes on softscaping projects.

Just like in a general home construction project, which entails the presence of many tradespeople and that a general contractor wears many hats, the role of a landscape contractor covers many fields. A landscape contractor can also be a landscape architect and a landscape designer. The knowledge background needed on the job includes, but is not limited to, expertise in soil drainage, grading, hardscaping, planting, architecture, and design.

Who Is a Landscape Contractor?

Who Is a Landscape Contractor?

What Does a Landscape Contractor Do?

A landscape contractor improves the appearance of plots of land by planting trees, other flora, or by altering the structure and composition of the land. But that’s not the whole story. In order to improve that appearance, a landscape contractor starts with planning that’s designed to bring a homeowner’s wildest backyard dreams to life.

Planning and Design

A landscape contractor can either design the plans for the build together with the client themselves or work off of the design plans of a landscape architect. They have a thorough grasp of all aspects of a landscaping project, including budgeting, materials, and timeline which are important parts of the planning stage.

What Does a Landscape Contractor Do?

What Does a Landscape Contractor Do?

Besides determining the visual appearance of an outdoor space, landscape contractors also take climate, geography, and plant type into consideration when developing the design. Landscape beautification can mean adding a pool where there wasn’t one or changing the soil type to allow a certain plant in the backyard design to grow well in a particular climate. More than making a yard design look better, landscape contractors also deal with improving the eco-functionality of that space. For example, this can be done by optimizing irrigation systems.

Construction

Next, landscape contractors will oversee the execution of those detailed plans. Heavy-duty equipment like tractors usually come along for the ride to prepare the land, or in landscape lingo, to grade it. Grading is the sculpting or leveling of land to prepare it for hardscaping, plants, paths, and other larger outdoor structures. Hardscaping is the construction of larger outdoor structures like decks, patios, and outdoor kitchens. It can also include rearranging concrete paths and pavements, installing water fountains, and beyond.

The Many Aspects of Landscape Contracting

The Many Aspects of Landscape Contracting

Garden Maintenance

Unlike the interior design of a home, landscape design and construction require maintenance because it involves working with living organisms. A landscape contractor is therefore knowledgeable in horticulture and arbor care. They can not only advise on the best trees or plants to use for the desired design but can also help care for them. Pruning, removal, and replacement are some of the jobs a landscape contractor will do to maintain the overall health of your greenery.

Proper Garden Maintenance By a Professional Can Turn Your Backyard Into an Oasis

Proper Garden Maintenance By a Professional Can Turn Your Backyard Into an Oasis

Who Do They Work With?

Although you might only need to hire a landscape contractor for smaller projects, the landscape contractor will hire or work with other professionals such as electricians and plumbers, or liaise with nursery growers for more elaborate plans. Some of the following trades are closely related however they are also their own domains, and more often than not a landscape contractor will be working with many of them. 

  • Landscapers
  • Landscape designers
  • Landscape architects
  • Garden designers 
  • Architects
  • General contractors
  • Other artisans (tilers, glaziers, builders)
  • Specialty construction trades
  • Plant nursery growers
  • Home or building inspectors 
  • Trade supply stores and manufacturers

When Do You Need One?

For any outdoor beautification, refurbishing, addition, or change other than replacing your welcome mat, you will probably work with a landscape contractor. Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the outdoor home projects they can help you realize.

  • Lawn landscaping and lawn maintenance 
  • Flower bed edging
  • Concrete edging
  • Garden design and garden landscaping
  • Garden architecture
  • Backyard landscaping
  • Designing and installing a pool
  • Outdoor kitchens
  • Outdoor fire pit
  • Fountains, ponds, and waterfalls
  • Patio landscaping 
When You Might Need a Landscape Contractor

When You Might Need a Landscape Contractor

Whatever the project, a landscape contractor is a handy professional to have in your contacts. They will help you discover the options available to choose the best design, materials, and plant types to suit your space, budget, and personality. They will also tell you whether the small patio ideas you had in mind will work with your outdoor space design or whether a vertical garden planter is suitable for your climate.

A landscape contractor is also one of the few professionals who’ll work on your house that you’ll continue to see in the future because maintenance is important. They will make sure your shrubs, trees, and flowers are well taken care of and in their best shape aesthetically.

Hiring a landscape contractor and taking on a new design for your home's exterior is also a pivotal way to improve your home’s curb appeal, and therefore, increase the value of your home. So if you have serious plans for your home exterior upgrades, want to take advantage of warmer weather, and improve your outdoor living spaces, it’s best to invest in your home and hire a professional.

Oudoor Project You Will Probably Need to Hire a Landscape Contractor For

Oudoor Project You Will Probably Need to Hire a Landscape Contractor For

How Much Does a Landscape Contractor Charge?

According to Thumbtack, the national average cost of a complete landscape renovation project (including a few hardscaping features) is $5,760. A high-end landscaping project can easily crest $20,000. The average hourly rate for a landscape contractor is about $30 according to Salary.com.

How to Choose the Best Landscape Contractor for You

Some landscape contractors are also landscape architects or landscape designers. A landscape architect will usually have a specialized architecture degree and needs to pass an exam to be licensed. Meanwhile, a license is usually not required for a landscape designer to work. You should check if landscape contractor license requirements exist for your state and what they are. Taking these requirements or expectations into consideration, it’s always good to ask your contractor about their credentials, especially if you have a larger project that will require the contractor to design, execute, and oversee. 

Sometimes, landscaping ventures indoors as well. If you are looking for a landscape contractor to implement a living wall or a Japanese garden in your entryway, make sure that they have indoor landscaping experience.

You May Even Need a Landscape Contractor for Indoor Projects as Well

You May Even Need a Landscape Contractor for Indoor Projects as Well

The role of a landscape contractor is not only to beautify but to do so in a way that is in tune with the nature that surrounds the site in question. So one way to find out if your landscape contractor is a right fit is by seeing whether they incorporate the surrounding space harmoniously. 

Finally, be sure to look at a contractor’s previous work. It will allow you to roughly gauge their capacity and skill. Looking at a professional’s portfolio will also help determine if they can do what you’re looking for with regards to style and architecture. 

Whether you are taking upon a landscaping project to make your outdoor space more pleasant for yourself or to increase your home’s value in preparation for putting it on the market, understanding the large and rich scope of a landscape contractor’s skill set will help you determine which professional(s) you need to hire.

Written by
Ani Mouradian

Written by Ani Mouradian

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