When should you hire a landscape designer?

Written by Wayne Lamarre · Last Updated January, 22nd 2023

It's not always easy to know exactly when is the right time to hire a landscape designer.

No matter how competent we are in various areas of our lives, there are times when we need some professional guidance. One of those times is when you dream or debate about what needs to happen in your backyard. These thoughts indicate that you are ready to gain significant benefits from professional help, and it's time to hire a landscape designer.

Key takeaways from this landscape design article from Nest Outdoors:

  1. Hiring a landscape designer is a good idea if you are considering significant changes or additions to your landscape.
  2. Landscape design can help navigate the many options and considerations, from hardscaping materials to landscape features and what species of plants will work best.
  3. Hiring a landscape designer at the right time saves you time, frustration, and money.
  4. A good landscape designer understands the construction methods and cost implications of every design choice.
  5. A landscape designer can help you create a cohesive and visually appealing design that is sustainable over time.

You might feel resistant or uncertain because you have completed some home renovation projects and never worked with a design professional. So now that you have turned your attention to your landscape it's natural to think, do I really need to hire a landscape designer?

Do I really need a landscape designer?

The short answer is yes if you are considering any significant changes or additions to your landscape. 

Backyards are often blank slates full of potential. You've got many excellent options for your landscape regarding what features you can include and how to organize these features best. This can lead to confusion and frustration about what precisely to do when entertaining landscape projects of even modest complexity. You may have an eye for design and know what you like but still be indecisive or lost on the best way to coordinate things you want, like pools, patios & walkways, or an outdoor kitchen. 

Every landscape design choice impacts construction methods and the overall budget

It's one thing to be unsure about the best landscape features, options, materials, and possible viable layouts in your backyard. But another is to be able to consider the construction methods and overall cost implications that come with every design choice. 

Landscape construction methods vary with different materials, which can add to a construction timeline or the required skill level of the installers. These are all factors that influence the budget. 

Beyond aesthetic and construction concerns is the engineering aspect of design. For example, any plan must consider stormwater management to prevent erosion and promote infiltration, which helps make a design sustainable over time. Retaining walls must be engineered to stand up to hydraulic pressure and freeze/thaw cycles. There may also be municipal restrictions or codes that need to be followed. 

Thoughtful landscape design takes education, experience, and years to master. A competent landscape designer can balance all of these considerations to form concepts that can be estimated and adjusted to fit a budget that works for you.

Adding an outdoor living space is a smart lifestyle and financial investment.

Wayne Lamarre - Owner Nest Outdoors

When is the right time to hire a landscape designer?

Hiring a landscape designer at the right time saves you time, frustration, and money. Not to mention that the final design can give you exactly what you want within your budget. So let's cover a few common circumstances and signs that you are ready to hire a landscape designer.

You feel overwhelmed when thinking about possibilities for your backyard

Hiring a landscape designer can be a great decision if you feel overwhelmed about the right landscape features and layout for your backyard. Landscape designers are experts in creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces tailored to your specific needs and preferences. And this is no small feat to pull off, considering we have to balance the personal tastes of multiple people, what is even possible on your property and what we can realistically accomplish within the proper budget. Good landscape design helps navigate the many options and considerations, from hardscaping materials to features to include to what species of plants fit your style and will thrive in the microclimate of your yard. So many things go into creating a cohesive and visually appealing design.

You want your landscape to match the quality of the interior spaces and architecture

Most of us spend significant time, attention, and money on our homes. Even if our house isn't exactly what we want when we purchase it, we focus on improvements until it reaches the functionality and quality we demand. After you get your interior spaces and architecture up to snuff, getting your landscape on the same level becomes essential. A landscape designer is beneficial in this circumstance because they can create a cohesive design that matches your outdoor spaces with the rest of your home. When the right layout, materials, and features are selected for your plan, your landscape properly complements and is on par with your home's architecture and interior spaces.

You need to add outdoor living space for daily use and to entertain more

Outdoor living is more popular now than ever. In fact, realtors now recognize outdoor living as a primary factor differentiating homes in a competitive market. If you're looking to add outdoor living space to your home, you're making an intelligent lifestyle and financial decision. A landscape designer can help you create a design that maximizes all of your outdoor spaces for daily use or for entertaining by designing patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens, as well as seating areas and shade structures with a built-in fireplace or fire pit. Planning a useful and beautiful outdoor living space is a complex undertaking. But when designed correctly, you get a backyard where you experience more fun, fresh air, and togetherness with your family and friends.

As a rule of thumb, the more complex the project you are considering is, the sooner you should hire a landscape designer.

Nest Outdoors

You have to solve a specific landscaping problem

There are situations in every landscape that can be improved. Sometimes it's puddles or ice forming in unideal locations. Or it could be a plant is struggling because it's not getting enough light/shade, etc. Perhaps you have a slope in your yard that needs a sustainable solution, or your property suffers from a lack of privacy based on proximity to neighboring houses. These are just a few examples of specific problems where a landscape designer can also be a great resource. A good landscape designer can provide solutions that can significantly improve your outdoor spaces within a budget that makes sense.

You are considering a significant project like an addition, a pool, or a shade structure

A landscape designer can be considered essential for significant projects like an addition, a pool, complex deck or patio combinations, and pavillions with outdoor kitchens to help you plan and execute efficiently. They can help you navigate the permitting process, ensure the hardscape and softscapes are designed in harmony with the architecture and ensure that construction is scheduled in a proper sequence. As a rule of thumb, the more complex the project you are considering is, the sooner you should hire a landscape designer.

You are ready for an outdoor kitchen

The addition of an outdoor kitchen takes backyard entertaining to the next level. Outdoor kitchens are becoming more common as everyone looks for more ways to get away from screens, develop deeper connections as a family and spend more time outside. They can be a perfect addition to a backyard, and a landscape designer can plan and design an outdoor kitchen that is functional, beautiful and fits in with your existing landscape or as part of a completely new design. The proper outdoor kitchen design process identifies the right appliances for your needs and the right countertops and materials that will fit your style. 

Helpful article: What is included in a basic outdoor kitchen?

You need a landscape lighting plan

A good landscape lighting plan is essential to bring functionality, beauty, and safety after dark. A landscape designer will create a lighting plan that highlights the best features of your landscape by uplighting trees and architectural elements or aesthetically casting light on natural stone features or stone walls. Softly lit paths provide the right amount of light for safety and security for evening use. Landscape lighting is now one of the most requested features in landscape design as it adds a whole new atmospheric landscape experience to the evening hours. 

Your existing landscape needs a refresh

If your existing landscape looks tired and outdated, a landscape designer can help you breathe new life into it. They can help you select new plants, update hardscaping, and create new outdoor living spaces that will make your backyard feel and function like a new space. 

Even if you are happy with the current layout of your property's hardscape elements, like walkways, driveways, patios, or retaining walls, you may not be satisfied with the material selection when they were initially constructed. Perhaps it's time to replace concrete with natural stone or explore materials that will better coordinate and match your personal aesthetic. 

A landscape designer can help you choose the right materials and design elements to complement your existing landscape while upgrading outdated features. They can also help you plan and execute the installation of these elements, ensuring that they are installed correctly and will last.

Your property needs to function better

Feel disconnected from your guests hanging out at the pool while your cooking at the grill? Are guests confused as to which door you'd prefer them to enter? Do you quickly run out of patio space when you have a gathering of more than a few people? These are all signs your property is not functioning well for your needs. 

A landscape designer can improve your property by assessing the needs of everyone who lives there, the size of gathering zomes like patios and decks, and the overall flow of your outdoor spaces. These assessments inform design solutions and the best options to improve your landscape. Good design creates outdoor spaces that work for all types of gatherings and for daily use.

You demand the highest return on investment for the money you spend on your home

Finally, if you're looking to get a great return on investment for the money you spend on your home, a landscape designer can help you create a design that will increase the value of your property. And by increase value, we mean that both monetarily and in terms of your enjoyment on a daily basis. With rising costs of materials and labor and the pressing need we all have to prioritize our well-being and health, landscape design delivers an exceptionally high return on investment. 

At Nest Outdoors, our design process ensures that every dollar you invest in construction is well-considered. This is true because we gather the right data and think deeply about the best solutions, and this makes investing in landscape design before construction a brilliant financial decision. 


Here is another article you may find helpful: How long does it take to create a landscape design?

Wayne Lamarre is the owner of the Bedford landscaping and design company Nest Outdoors

About the author of this article

Wayne Lamarre

Wayne founded Nest Outdoors to expand great home-living experiences to your backyard. He combines his formal art, landscaping, and design education with over 25 years of project construction experience.

Learn more about Wayne

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Landscape design with a bluestone patio and stone retaining wall in Bedford NH from Nest Outdoors

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FAQ - Hiring a Landscape Designer:


Q: How do I know I've hired the right landscape designer for my needs?

A: First, they need to be qualified and have experience. 

Once you've covered that, you need to see if you feel comfortable communicating with them and that you share the same values.

Q: If I'm considering adding a pool to my backyard, should I call a landscape designer before a pool company?

A: YES! This is a common mistake many homeowners make when considering a pool project. Everything from the right shape to the correct elevation of the pool to how it will integrate with existing and proposed elements in the landscape will be identified and optimized during the design process. When a landscape designer is called in after a pool has been installed, we are limited to working around decisions that may not be ideal for the overall layout and functionality of your landscape.

Q: When do I not need a landscape designer?

A: Everything in the landscape requires some level of design thinking. However, there are examples where a solution to a project may be so straightforward that a simple conversation is all that is needed before materials are selected, and construction is scheduled. 

Q: What is the link between landscape design and landscape construction? 

A: Proper landscape design is always considering constructibility issues, and how a landscape feature needs to be built dramatically influences the design process. This is why we believe the best landscape designers have a deep understanding and experience with landscape construction methods and techniques. 

Q: How long will a landscape design take to complete?

A: This depends mainly on the complexity of the project. For example, a project that includes multiple elements like pools, pergolas or pavilions, outdoor kitchens, integrated patios, and decks will take more time. Smaller, less complex designs can be completed in a matter of days/weeks in some cases. Larger designs are generally completed over several months. 

Bedford landscape designer Nest Outdoors

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