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Landscapers And Gardeners

Julie Bawden-Davis | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Enjoying a lush landscape is a true pleasure. The key to obtaining a yard that looks its best is hiring the right yard professional. Understanding the services landscapers and gardeners provide, their differences and their respective costs are the first steps to achieving your dream landscape.

4 signs of a professional landscaper

  1. Insured and licensed. Legitimate landscape contractors and architects protect themselves and you by carrying liability and worker's compensation insurance and are licensed through local government authorities and members of organizations such as the Landscape Contractors Association.
  2. Good listener. A professional landscaper gives you what you ask for, not what he or she thinks you need. Such an individual will let you know, however, when a landscape choice is not a feasible option.
  3. Calls in expert help. A good landscaper knows his or her limits and consults with experts, such as arborists, irrigation specialists and pesticide applicators, when necessary.
  4. Educates customers. Effective landscape professionals instruct you on maintaining your landscape before they leave the project.

Gardeners

Gardeners generally provide lawn care maintenance, which means mowing your lawn and may include minor pruning, fertilizing and weed control. Gardeners generally lack formal horticultural training and charge the least of all landscape professionals. According to Anaheim, Southern California-based landscape contractor Victoria Michaels of Victoriagardensmith, Inc., a local gardener charges from $50 to $250 a month, depending on frequency and the services provided.

Landscapers

Also known as landscape contractors, landscapers have formal horticultural training, which includes degrees and certifications. "Such individuals know plant material, correct plant placement and design, fertilizer and pesticide use, lighting and irrigation," says Michaels. A landscaper is often your best choice if you require a landscape designed and installed. In California, local landscapers generally charge on an hourly basis with rates ranging from $30 to $150 per hour, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Landscape architects

Landscape architects have a Bachelor's or Master's degree that includes training in the design of landscapes as well as outdoor hardscape items such as retaining walls, decks and gazebos. Such individuals draw up detailed landscape plans that are usually used by landscape contractors for implementation. Landscape architect fees are substantial, with many charging several thousand dollars for a landscape plan.

Finding local landscapers

If you see a yard that impresses you, inquire whose services the homeowner employs. You can also ask for local landscaper recommendations at your nearby nursery or garden center and through your state's landscape contractors association.