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How to Hire a Landscaper: Terms You’ll Need to Know

How to Hire a Landscaper: First, Speak their Language

Before you begin learning key points about how to hire a landscaper, first make sure you understand some key terms. Understanding these terms will help you both as you search for a landscaper and as you communicate with one (or more).

Who to Hire?

When looking for landscapers, it’s extremely important to understand the differences in kinds of landscapers. Once you learn the difference, you might find that you’re changing your mind about asking your landscape contractor to solve a drainage issue, for instance. Find out what your prospective landscaper is certified as before hiring.

Landscape Architect: A person with a degree or graduate degree in landscape architecture who is licensed as a landscape architect by the state in which they operate. A landscape architect has training in complex site development, installation and build issues & challenges, such as the ability to:
• Solve elevation or drainage issues
• Work with slopes
• Develop retaining walls and outdoor structures
• Offer insight and advice on the placement of driveways, service lines and the like
(*In the world of landscaping, a great deal of crossover can exist between the landscape architect, designer and contractor.)

Landscape Contractor: Typically, a landscape contractor has experience in the planning and planting of grounds (softscaping), although some contractors do handle hardscaping projects.

Landscape Designer: Although a landscape designer may have equivalent training to the landscape architect, a designer can be licensed as a landscape architect by the state in which they operate. Designers often work on projects ranging from garden design to handling all the intricacies of a full yard renovation, including soft- and hardscapes.

Additional Key Terms

Accent: A plant or object that draws attention to a space.

Aeration: The methods of increasing water and oxygen into compact soil by creating holes throughout the areas.

Annual: A plant that lives for one growing season.

Dethatching: The process of removing dead grass from a lawn.

Drip Irrigation: A system of irrigation that “leaks” small amounts of water, typically through a hose, in a steady manner. Drip irrigation systems can save money by watering only what needs to be watered.

Frost Line: The depth that the top layers of soil will freeze during the winter season.

Grading: The process of adjusting the slope level of an area.

Green Roof: A green roof (or living roof) is a building roof partially to completely covered with soil or a growing medium in which vegetation is planted. Green roofs may help reduce pollution, moderate urban heat and improve air quality along with a host of other benefits, including offering green space to city dwellers, reducing noise pollution and reducing electromagnetic radiation. (For more, see greenroofbenefits)

Ground Cover: Low-growing plants that are often used in bed or areas where it is difficult to grow grass.

Hardscaping: Any of the non-plant materials and features incorporated in a landscape design. The materials range from rock to wood while structures run the gamut, including patios, walkways, driveways, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, rock or retaining walls, pergolas and many other features and materials.

Island or Berm: An elevated area with a raised soil bed resembling an “island” that is typically planted with grasses, trees, shrubs, rock or flowers.

Sod: Mature lawn grown for transplant to new locations.

Softscaping: The live horticultural elements incorporated into a landscape.

Terracing: Retaining walls built on a slope designed to hold soil in place.

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Creating your outdoor space takes some time, patience, vision and creativity, whether you are landscaping a whole yard or just landscaping small areas. When you’re ready to move ahead, our team is highly experienced in all facets of landscape design. We’ll be happy to talk with you in person or over the phone to discuss how we can help you with your planning and outdoor overhaul. Feel free to call us or contact us online to get started with a discussion about your Chicago landscaping ideas and needs.

About The Author

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
Chicago Landscaper, Master Gardener, Green Roof Specialist & Degreed Horticulturist at Anne Roberts Gardens

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