Know When to Hire a Pro

Men laying new hardwood flooring
With any landscaping project, there are areas where you can save some money by doing the job yourself. However, there also are many parts of the landscaping process that require a great deal of expertise, and the best solution is to engage a professional for the job.

Depending on the size and scope of the project, the actual landscape design is one area that can be done by a design professional or an educated homeowner. If you are considering a large project, particularly a completely new landscape design for new construction or a renovation of an existing landscape, the services of a landscape designer can be invaluable. A designers artistic eye, vision and knowledge of plants that perform well in our hot, dry Southern climate, and his or her experience in discovering individual wants and needs, can provide you with a plant that will complement your home and lifestyle.

Do-it-yourselfers with gardening knowledge can certainly create their own landscape design plans, and there is a plethora of information available to help them achieve their goals. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, area nurseries, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gwinnett Tech and other schools offer landscape design, horticulture and maintenance classes that will increase your skills.

Photo courtesy of Gibbs Landscape Company

If your property has drainage or erosion issues, a professional landscape architect or landscape designer should be contacted to assess the situation. The homeowner can perform basic home-maintenance fixes for any water that is collecting close to the house, such as cleaning or replacing defective gutters and extending downspouts to move water away from the foundation. Grading and installation of drainage systems, unless very simple, is best left to the pros.

Hardscaping is another area that usually requires a consultation with a professional. Stepping stones and mulched pathways are easy do-it-yourself projects, but retaining walls, sidewalks and other structural fixtures should be left to landscape designers and architects who have the expertise, manpower and equipment to do the job right.

While basic irrigation, such as drip emitter systems and soaker hoses, can be installed by the homeowner, underground irrigation system planning and installation is a professional job.

Tree removal should be contracted to a licensed, insured company, unless the trees are small, brushy trees that can easily be handled by the homeowner.

Once your plan is completed, drainage issues are tackled, and the hardscape and irrigation are installed, the actual installation of plant materials can be done by the homeowner or an installation crew. Large trees should usually be planted by the designers crew, as they have the proper equipment and knowledge to protect this large investment. Once soil is amended, planting of turf, smaller trees, shrubs and flowers can be started, but these need to be planted at the right time of the year for optimum growth. To save money, divide the plan into stages and install area by area; for example, do the front yard first, and back and side yards in the future.

Youll save time and money by determining what part of the landscape project you can do yourself and what should be left to professional landscape experts. Consider both your own skills and gardening knowledge, and the value of the experts experience in making decisions regarding your landscaping project.

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