How to Find the Best Landscaping Pro for the Job

Garden Designer, Landscape Architect or General Contractor?

Depending on the type and scope of residential outdoor project, it's likely that some type of professional will need to be consulted to help with certain aspects of the design or its implementation. While many of us have the DIY skills and desire to make over our yards, we don't always have the time or access to materials and subcontractors that may need to be included on the project.


  • 01 of 08

    Who Does What?

    woman blueprints
    A woman checks out landscape blueprints. Arthur Tilley/Getty Images

    That's why it's a smart idea to hire a professional to assist with at least part of the project. The challenge is in determining the right type of pro for the job.

    Consult this list to help you figure out who does what in the world of backyards, landscapes, gardens, pools and patios. We also share information on the top schools for landscape architecture and design.

  • 02 of 08
    landscape architects
    Landscape architects discuss a project. Getty Images

    First off—a landscape designer and garden designer are terms that are often used interchangeably to describe someone in the same profession. Discover the role of the landscape or garden designer and if this is the person you might want to employ for your outdoor project.

  • 03 of 08
    landscape contractor
    A landscape contractor works on a deck above a pond. Getty Images

    You may have some good references, but what do you really need to know and look into before hiring a landscape contractor for your residential property? We help you figure it out, along with knowing the right questions to ask.

  • 04 of 08
    plan view drawing
    A landscape architect draws a plan view. Kaloyan Suhorukov/Getty Images

    Which one has more training, and which one can work on residential and commercial properties? Or maybe one just designs buildings, while the other deals with plants? We set it straight.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08
    A contractor finishes up a job. Lisa H. Taylor

    Don't just blindly hire a contractor for a job because your neighbor suggested this person or it's the brother-in-law of that woman who works in human resources. Like anything else: do your homework.

  • 06 of 08
    cal poly slo logo
    Cal Poly SLO. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

    Identified as a "Top-50 Career in 2010" and projected by U.S. News & World Report to grow at 20 percent through 2018 (and hopefully beyond), landscape architecture is a vital and growing field. Our list of the top American schools in landscape architecture has been curated from various sources, including DesignInteed and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

  • 07 of 08

    What is a Garden or Landscape Designer?

    woman works in garden
    A woman works in a raised-bed vegetable garden. cjp/Getty Images

    Most landscape or garden designers are people who love digging in the dirt themselves—that's what often leads them into designing gardens for others. Find out about the training these designers receive, the scope of their work, and if this is the type or professional you should hire for your project.

  • 08 of 08

    Schools for Garden and Landscape Design

    uc berkeley logo
    UC Berkeley logo. UC Berkeley Extension

    While landscape designers don't have to be licensed by their state (like landscape architects), you should hire someone who has some kind of formal training. This list includes some of the top schools and programs for landscape and garden design.