From the Magazine


Effective landscaping is not always a do-it-yourself project. This Mediterranean-style garden required the help of serious landscape professionals. Photo by Mary Wilhite.

Hiring Landscape Professionals

Deciding when it’s time to trust the experts

Gardening is America’s favorite hobby. The vast number of magazine titles and current television programs with a garden theme illustrate the popularity of our beloved pastime. The mountain of information available to gardeners empowers many hobbyists to tackle big landscape jobs around their houses. HGTV and home makeover shows make it look easy, but what the viewer seldom sees is the horde of advisors, assistants and laborers who actually do most of the work behind the scenes.

While the do-it-yourself approach can be personally rewarding and economically attractive, there are occasions when a professional should be consulted.

Large, heavy or technical jobs
I hire professionals for any job that requires motorized equipment. This includes ditch digging, new bed preparation (grass removal and tilling), even mowing and edging. I would rather spend my time planting, pruning, mulching and weeding in my gardens and leave the heavy work to others.

Homeowners should not try to take on projects that require technical expertise, like drainage changes. Landscape professionals understand how to fix water problems. It could be as simple as a slight change of grade, or it may involve French drains and sump pumps. You want drainage problems to be fixed completely and permanently.

Unless you have a talent for engineering, I suggest you hire professionals to install your sprinkler system. They know the best locations for sprinkler heads, which type to use for each different site, and how many stations to include. Many communities have instituted new laws about irrigation in the last few years, and licensed irrigators are up to date on these regulations.

A new home
A bare yard can be overwhelming to a new homeowner. It is difficult to know where to start or how to get organized. The mistake I see most often in amateur landscapes is improper placement of plants. Trees and large shrubs are planted too close to the house and to each other. Consultation with a landscape designer or architect can prevent these problems. A professional will know which plants will thrive in your area and where and how to place them for best performance and minimum maintenance.

Posted by gdrew

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