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Hiring a Landscaper 

If you want to spruce up your yard, and you've decided you're not the do-it-yourself type or you just don't have time, you may be thinking of hiring professional help. There are a few things you should do before opening up the Yellow Pages to look for a landscaper.

To start with, form an idea of what you want and what makes sense given any possible budget restrictions. Are you just trying to add a little life to your yard? Have you recently added a swimming pool that has changed the configuration of the yard? Are you trying to use trees and shrubs to establish some privacy between you and your neighbors? Brainstorm with other members of your family and write down your collective ideas on paper. Draw sketches. Cruise around the neighborhood and take photographs of landscapes you admire.

Once you believe you're ready to take the next step, decide which kind of landscape professional is most appropriate for your needs. Generally speaking, landscapers fall into three categories.

Landscape Architects

In order to be certified as a landscape architect, one must graduate from a course in landscape architecture. This includes an education in horticulture, engineering, and architectural design. In many states, Landscape Architects aren't official until they've passed the Landscape Architect Registration Examination. That is a test that ensures the landscaper is familiar with grading and drainage, and landscape construction. It also tests such things as landscape design and history, as well as professional ethics. Because of these prerequisites, landscape architects are generally more expensive than landscape designers.

Landscape Designers

Landscape designers are not required to undergo any formal training. However, they are usually knowledgeable about basic landscaping design principles, plants, and plant materials.

Landscape Contractors

Landscape contractors have backgrounds in laying patios and paths, installing plants and irrigation systems, and building decks and various structures. They often work together with landscape architects, carrying out their plants. 

For a complicated project (i.e. something that requires grading for terraces or needs complex drainage), you may need to hire both a landscape architect and a landscape contractor. For simpler projects, you may only need to spend money on a landscape designer. They are capable of creating beds and borders with aesthetically pleasing assortments of plants and shrubs.

Source: Pools & Spas

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