Ask the Experts Landscaping

Choosing a landscaper

Written by Kerry Johnston

Finding the right landscaping company can be tricky. You have to do your homework and tick some important boxes before committing…

“Landscaping is living space that just happens to be outdoors,” says Greg Southard of Riverfront Landscape, a US-based landscaping company with the most exquisite website featuring postcard-worthy gardens that make you simply want to be outside all day.

And he’s absolutely spot on – landscaping is about creating an outdoor space to ‘live in’ and the benefits of a beautiful landscape are many. Not only can a landscaped garden increase the value of your home, it can also completely transform an ordinary yard into something extraordinary.

Here are five important points to consider before hiring a landscaper:

1 You need to be on the same page – Says Craig de Necker, Managing Director of The Friendly Plant, an award-winning landscape design and installation company situated on a 44-acre plant farm between Johannesburg and Pretoria: “The type of work performed by the landscaper must resonate with you. In the same way that you identify with a specific car or clothing brand, you must identify with the landscaper to whom you are entrusting your garden,” he explains. Put all your wants and needs on paper and then compare this list to the services and experience of each landscaper you contact.

2 Work with what you have – A good landscaper should take into account your existing garden space in terms of exposure, drainage, lighting conditions, the soil type you have and other variables.

3 Get the picture – A drawing is the best way to get an idea of what a landscaper is proposing. Ask a few companies to submit a quote and provide you with a sketch, bearing in mind that they may charge a fee if you want to keep the plans. “Ensure that the landscape design provided by the landscaper is drawn to scale,” says Craig. “If it’s not drawn to scale, there is no way of accurately quantifying the different elements required for the installation of the garden,” he adds. “Quotes based on rough sketches result in quotes which are essentially a guess.”

4 Check out their pedigree – Landscaping is not a cheap exercise, so doing your homework beforehand can save you many headaches later. “Nobody wants to deal with a fly-by-night operator,” says Craig. “Ask for references and photos of projects they’ve done that are similar to what you’re interested in. And ask to see previous examples of their work – they should be able to provide work-in-progress photos to prove that they installed the garden,” he says. Ask friends, family and neighbours for recommendations. You should ask to visit their premises too, even if they work from home. At least then you’ll know where to start looking if things go awry.

5 Establish a timeline – Don’t assume you are the company’s only customer. Get a clear timetable for your landscaping project so you aren’t waiting around while work is being done at someone else’s home.

More landscaping tips

• Decide on a theme for your garden project, for example indigenous, desert, zen, etc
• Your landscaping style should match the look and feel of your home.
• Always try and opt for low-maintenance, water-wise plant varieties.
• On that note, minimize grassed areas to conserve water.
• Reserve an area for herbs and/or vegetables in your design.
• Include focal points/features in your landscape design.
• Group containers together.
• Plant in odd numbers (e.g.1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 etc).
• Plant close together for instant effect – you can always thin out later.
• Mulch any exposed soil.


Images: iStock


Kerry Johnston

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