When you are considering hiring an installer, start by determining what is the most valuable to you. The rule of thumb is that you receive a good value for 2 of 3 things offered by a landscape installation company (or most companies for that matter). Those things are service, price, and quality. For instance, if you want a very affordable installation, then you may need to find some patience prior to calling an installation company. This may be because you will receive poor quality materials (or worse, poor installation that causes the plants to suffer once your warranty has expired), or you may receive poor service which can make working with a company tedious and frustrating.
I recommend starting with a professional design company (like HDG Landscape Design) that can give you a quality design and additional support materials that will allow you to bid the same design to multiple installation companies. Design-build firms offer design and installation services, but in the past my clients have received partially complete plans from design-build firms which makes it nearly impossible for another company to provide a comprehensive, competitive bid. Landscape installation companies in Texas tend to charge within 10%-20% of one another, and it is not unusual to request multiple bids for a project especially if it is your first time to hire a professional contractor. The more expensive the company does not necessarily mean you will receive an increased level of service and quality, so make sure you consider other factors about the company to help make your decision about what is most important to you. Larger companies may be more expensive, but they have the purchasing power and contacts to source unique, higher quality materials in bulk and the additional cost you pay for is a higher level of expertise, service, and quality in terms of materials and installation. Smaller companies may be start-ups that really need that one great client to help their business take-off. You may have a lower overall cost but there are hidden risks (such as not having insurance) and rewards (such as not have a realistic understanding of the time it will take to complete an installation which gives you services for free due to their mistake). No matter what the cost, I always recommend requesting information regarding a company’s insurance and a contract with a warranty agreement, change order agreement, and specific scope of work that is signed by both parties.
Quick Budgeting Tips
Imagine the front yard of the most beautifully landscaped house on your street. If you like how many layers of plants they have, then calculate how deep their landscape beds are from their foundation. If you cannot measure that, then estimate by assuming that each large/medium shrub in the layer takes up 3 feet of depth and each small shrub/perennial/ground cover takes up 18 inches of depth. Multiply the desired depth of the beds by the linear footage of your foundation (or location where you intend to install plant material). With only a few variables to consider (existing irrigation, existing plants, standard sized plants (small), new soil, new mulch, labor) your estimated cost for a landscaped bed area with a minimum depth of 7 feet can be between $20-$24 per square foot without taxes and other fees (delivery, travel, etc.).
After working with over 25 installation companies in the state of Texas over the past few years it was noticed that many companies have minimum installation fees in order to ensure a project is profitable. I have a lot of respect for a company that cares enough about their business and employees to find the breaking point between a profitable and non-profitable job. I have noticed that it is difficult to find an installation company that offers services for a project with a budget under $10,000. It is rare to find a professional, business minded company that offers services for a project with a budget under $5,000. If your project falls into the category of “low budget,” then consider holding off on your project until you have other outdoor living or landscape needs that meet the minimum budget of a professional company you trust. At the very least, start by Hiring a Designer to create a phased design to begin budgeting. Showing a design to an installation company tells them you know exactly what you want and where you want it which saves them time in the service they have to give you and saves you money (remember the “rule of thumb” at the beginning of this article).
Check out our links below to get a better understanding of design fees, design professionals, and DIY.