Experts and BHG readers answer.
What kind of professional do I look for to help me with outdoor labor?
That depends on the scope of the project, how much you want to do yourself, and the amount you want to spend. Here's a summary of landscape professionals and how they can help with your project. Landscape architects are professionals who usually are licensed and certified. They tackle the biggest projects, such as developing a comprehensive plan for your entire outdoor space. They may charge an hourly consulting fee to walk around your property with you and make suggestions, or they may cite a flat fee for the entire project. They also may charge a fee to review your design or plan before you begin construction, which can be money well spent if it saves you grief later in the process.
Landscape designers usually are not licensed or regulated by any agency, but they typically have some formal training in design and may belong to organizations that offer continuing education or review. If you decide to work with a landscape designer, check references carefully. Many designers, even if they aren't certified, are gifted in design and have vast plant knowledge. Designers often create planting plans rather than overall landscape designs. Also, they frequently are not the best choice for designing permanent garden structures because they lack the needed expertise.
Landscape contractors are not overseen by a licensing agency or governed by state regulations. They often are hired to install design elements, such as a path or retaining wall formulated by a landscape architect or designer. Again, check references and ask questions about the quality and fit of materials used. Sometimes, your local garden center is the best place to start looking for professional advice. These centers often have designers on staff or a referral relationship with a landscape architect. They frequently can supply the materials and labor needed for your dream design. You may even get a discount for a package including design, materials, and labor.