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  • Writer's pictureEric McQuiston, PLA

Elevate Your Landscape Contracting Business with an Independent Landscape Architect

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

In the highly competitive world of landscape contracting, standing out from the competition is paramount. Whether you're an established contractor with a strong portfolio or just starting out, you may have contemplated adding a dedicated designer or an entire design/sales department to your company. However, this can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, with upfront expenses and overhead that can strain an emerging business. The risk of dedicating a salary and benefits to an unproven designer can also be a daunting prospect.

But here's a cost-effective and relatively risk-free alternative: Partner with an independent landscape architect. These professionals possess a unique skill set that can seamlessly complement your company's strengths and style. Collaborating with an independent landscape architect can be a game-changer for your business, offering numerous benefits that can lead to your overall success.


Here's a breakdown of the key considerations when partnering with an independent landscape architect:

  1. Experience: Start by assessing the landscape architect's experience. Do they have a deep understanding of the scope and nature of the work you provide? Have they spent time in the field, getting their hands dirty and working on actual projects? Don't hesitate to ask for examples and consider negotiating fieldwork to secure a better rate. This practical experience will benefit both parties.

  2. Design Process: Efficient and practical design processes are essential. While hand-drawn designs may have an artistic appeal, they can be time-consuming and challenging to modify. Look for landscape architects well-versed in the latest CAD (Computer-Aided Design) and rendering applications. CAD allows for easy changes and updates, minimizing miscommunication and costly mistakes. Consider software options like LandFX for a smoother design workflow.

  3. Practicality: Successful landscape designs must be not only aesthetically pleasing but also practical and feasible to implement. As a contractor, your profit relies on the work you do, so ensure that your landscape architect considers factors such as site access, safety, and work environments. Discuss real-world challenges with your prospective landscape architect and their ability to adapt to them.

  4. Products: The drawings produced by a designer become the blueprint for your project. The initial schematic presented to the client should be clear and easily understandable, often including color and 3D renderings to illustrate the design intent. This is your primary sales tool and should represent your company. Verify that your prospective landscape architect can create these sales designs and convert them into construction drawings for your teams to use in the field.

  5. Communication: Effective communication is the linchpin of success. Inquire about your prospective landscape architect's communication methods and their responsiveness. Phone communication is essential, but consider other channels such as text, email, and even apps like CompanyCam. A lack of communication can compromise the project's outcome.

  6. Fee Schedules: To prevent misunderstandings down the line, establish clear and transparent fee schedules with your landscape architect. This clarity will help maintain a positive working relationship.

  7. Follow Up: Ensure that your landscape architect is available for follow-up work or consulting if the need arises. This ongoing support can be invaluable for addressing any unforeseen challenges.

  8. Customer Relations: Your landscape architect should possess strong interpersonal skills to engage with your clients on your behalf. They should understand their fiduciary duty to promote your company and your work at every meeting.


By partnering with an independent landscape architect who aligns with these criteria, you can enhance your landscape contracting business, offer more comprehensive services, and ultimately set yourself apart from the competition. This collaborative approach not only mitigates risk but can also lead to greater success for your company.

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