In most lines of work, experience and reputation are invaluable. No amount of money or marketing can equate an individual with little experience to one with decades of practical knowledge. After all, most employers expect applicants to have some amount of prior experience in an industry before being hired. So at the end of the day, when anyone can claim to be a “qualified” landscape designer, how can you distinguish an experienced landscape designer from an amateur? It can often seem difficult, but it’s much easier than you’d expect. Below are some things to look out for, and things to avoid, when selecting your next landscape designer.
One of the prime indicators of a landscape designer’s ability are their referrals. A landscape designer with experience, skill and impressive business practices receives numerous referrals from clients, thereby establishing a customer base on a foundation of success and positive relationships. Alternatively, landscape designers with mixed reviews, or who you’ve heard little about, may not be the best choice. If a friend, family member or even an acquaintance recommend a landscape designer to you, listen! Referrals are the key to finding a talented and skilled landscape designer.
In Oregon, the Oregon State Landscape Architect Board regulates the practice of landscape architecture. It does this by administering licensure exams and overseeing practicing landscape architects to ensure their work lives up to the expectations of their clients. At the bare minimum, you should confirm that any landscape architect you choose is certified under this board and has an active license to be practicing in the field. Doing so will guarantee that your landscape designer is of a high quality.
There are many career fields that don’t require an individual to have a professional education in order to be successful. Unfortunately, landscape architecture is not one of them. The best landscape designers spend years receiving a formal education in how to best construct a landscape that fits the needs and desires of the client. While an individual can demonstrate talent and ability without a degree, their knowledge in the field would never be comparable to that of someone who first received an education on the topic. Ask the next landscape designer you’re considering if they hold a degree in the field because a formal education can go a long way.
Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of a landscape designer’s past work. One can never truly know the ability of a quality landscape designer until they have reviewed their past projects. You wouldn’t want a newly licensed surgeon to perform surgery on you, so why should you want an inexperienced landscape architect overseeing your landscape project? Nothing speaks to an individual’s abilities more than the work they’ve done in the past, so make sure to ask to see their past work when deciding whether they are the right fit for you.
There you have it! By looking at the referrals, certifications, education and past work of any landscape designer, anyone should be able to discern whether they are a right fit for them and their project. These four indicators are important tools, and by sticking to them, you’ll be putting whatever project you have in store in qualified and responsible hands.