Landscape featuring Sonora Shine, boulders and succulents

How to Choose a Landscape Designer

Mar 31, '20

A landscape designer (or landscape architect) can create the landscape of your dreams. Even if you plan to handle the planting and installation yourself, you’ll need a game plan. While choosing the right landscape designer is a big decision, it’s not something you should lose sleep over. In this blog-post Online Stone Solutions is going to break it down for you in easy-to-follow steps, which will save you time, money, and prevent a big headache down the road.

Step 1: Know your desired outcome

Before contacting landscape designers, ask yourself, what is it you’re trying to achieve? Are you starting from scratch or looking for a makeover? What will you use your landscape for, and what is the general look and feel that you’re aiming for? Maybe you want a Japanese-style garden, an English cottage garden, or a Southwestern xeriscape landscape. Review garden and lifestyle magazines for something that really connects with you, or take a photo of a neighbor’s yard that you want to emulate.

Step 2: Determine your key selection criteria

Conducting research and interviews will be much more effective if you establish some criteria at the outset, so you know exactly what you’re looking for. Here are some factors to consider:

Experience and Education

How long have they been in business, what education and training have they received, what do they specialize in, and how compelling are their references? An experienced designer is less likely to encounter costly delays and other nuisances that keep you up at night


Cost is always a factor, but it depends on your particular situation and what you can afford. Try to ensure that your expectations are realistic given your location, size of yard, and the scope of the project. Also, be sure to ask about liability insurance. 


Is the landscape designer someone you can establish a good rapport with and trust? Is he a good communicator who explains things simply and concisely? Is he a team player or “my way or the highway” type?

Eco-Friendly Practices

For some homeowners, finding a landscape designer who avoids chemicals, uses compost, and knows how to design water efficient irrigation systems is an important factor.

Step 3: Do your research

Conducting research is a must. The time you invest reading online reviews and asking friends and neighbors for their recommendations is invaluable. Keep in mind though that online reviews can be rigged and that a solid referral from a friend you trust can trump a dozen online reviews. Another tip is to visit your local nursery and ask for a referral. If you see a neighbor’s yard that impresses you, ask them who did the work. Research also includes verifying designers’ professional qualifications, calling client references, and even visiting yards that they’ve designed so you can see their work firsthand. 

Step 4: Conduct Interviews and get quotes

Interview two to three landscape designers who meet your criteria. Since you will be working very closely with them, you want to be impressed by the quality of their work, but you also need to feel comfortable with them. Think of it as a job interview, and make sure you have your key selection criteria with you. Ask about their approach and process, and listen carefully to their feedback. Share your budget and desired timeline and ask if it’s reasonable. Have they worked on similar landscape design projects of similar scope and budget? 

After providing the designers with all the relevant information, ask for a quote. Make sure to give each designer the same information, so you’re comparing apples and apples.  

Step 5:  Sign the contract

Insist on a detailed written contract that addresses all responsibilities, the kind of work that will be done, installation standards, costs, payment terms, and timeline; be sure to read the fine print before you sign anything. 


To summarize:  

  • Consider the end result that you want to achieve. 
  • Talk to friends and neighbors, and check the online reviews. 
  • Conduct thorough interviews with two to three designers until you find someone who meets your budget and other criteria.
  • Sign a detailed contract. 

Doing your due diligence before you hire a landscape designer will help ensure a smooth and positive experience once the real work begins.

Ask your landscape designer about the aesthetic and practical benefits of incorporating decorative stones into your design, and be sure to browse our gallery to see the wide variety of decorative stones that we offer.