7 Questions to Ask Potential Landscape Designers for a Great Experience at Your Montana Home

Written By: Mason Shaffer

Feb 18, 2020 8:29:00 AM

Having an outdoor living project designed and built is such an exciting endeavor. But when it comes to ensuring that the project is completed right, the design is a truly critical stage. This invaluable process is where ideas start to evolve from mere conceptions to reality. Given the value of a great landscape design, it’s important that you choose the best landscape designers for the project.

Of course, that is easier said than done. When it comes to landscape design companies in Bozeman or Big Sky, MT, you have choices. Considering the fact that your choice will have a direct impact on your overall happiness when the project is complete, it’s critical that you choose wisely.

That all begins with researching your options. As you start to consider what company might be best, there are some questions that you can ask to narrow the playing field.

1. Can You Tell Me About Your Company?

This question is the most obvious starting point when performing your research. Because there are a number of different landscape design companies out there, it helps to find out what they feel sets them apart from the crowd.

Use This Worksheet to Plan Out Your Landscape Design

patio, fire bowl, and landscape designed by Blanchford Landscape Group

If you want to dive deeper, you can specifically ask about the company’s qualifications, their team, and how long they have been in business. 

2. What Professional Affiliations Do You Maintain?

Although they require an output of time and money on the company’s behalf, affiliations with professional industry groups demonstrate that there is a commitment that extends beyond the company itself. Through professional groups, there is often the opportunity to submit for design awards and to challenge themselves against what other companies in the industry are doing. Think of it as the “best of the best,” not just on a local level, but oftentimes on a national scale.

In the Green Industry, the National Association of Landscape Professionals is our national group and it is quite valuable for landscape designers to belong to. Belonging to this group shows that they care about design and industry trends on a larger scale. It also challenges them to get their heads out of the sand and see what’s happening with the industry as a whole. 

It challenges them to ask themselves:

  • Are we keeping up with trends as a whole?
  • Are there better ways that we can be performing our jobs? Do we have the latest tools and/or are we using the latest methodologies? 
  • What’s happening in the industry outside of the scope of what’s happening in our own little corner of the world?

These are the types of questions that an affiliation with a professional industry will confront a company with—always challenging them to be better and to make sure that they’re “keeping up.”

Of course, we find that a lot of companies do not have any affiliations, even on a local level. We honestly believe they are selling themselves short and doing themselves and their clients a disservice. It is these same landscape designers that tend to put out the same designs again and again and never challenge themselves to be better.

3. Can You Tell Me About Your Landscape Design Process?

It’s important to remember that not all landscape design companies follow the same process. This is something that can really separate the best landscape designers from the ones that are average.

earial view of patio and landscape designed by landscape designer in Bozeman, Montana

At Blanchford Landscape Group, our landscape design process is incredibly comprehensive. Our process is so extensive because we believe that the only way for a landscape design project to truly come together the best way possible is to leave no stone unturned.

4. Can You Not Only Design But Also Build This Project?

Keep in mind that you ideally want to find a company that does both design and build work. There are going to be landscape designers out there that only do design work. That means you then have to find a landscape construction company to build it.

Blanchford Landscape Group team building patio and planting

Conversely, there are going to be companies that only do construction (and either “sub out” the design—or even worse, don’t work from a design at all).

The problem with this route is that there can be disconnects with the process. When one company designs the project and another builds it, it’s not going to be the seamless experience that you desire. 

Therefore, make sure that you ask about whether the company is truly design/build. Are they performing the design in-house and are they then seamlessly moving into the construction phase? Ask specific questions and make sure you find out how their entire process works.

5. Do You Have Examples of Your Work?

This is such an important question to ask of any landscape design companies that you might be considering. After all, you should not just take their word that they do great work, you should want to see it for yourself.

One way to do that is through an online gallery, where the company posts photos of projects that they’ve completed.

patio and fire pit with beautiful view in Montana

But it shouldn’t stop there. You should also ask to see completed projects in person. It can make a really big difference seeing a project in real life as opposed to just a photo of it.

Actually, at Blanchford Landscape Group, one thing that we often try to do is also show clients (and potential clients) projects that are in progress as well as projects that are completed. We find that showing in-progress projects helps set realistic expectations of what the process is going to be like. That helps people to feel more prepared (and less surprised) when their project gets started.

We’ll be honest—a landscape project that is “underway” can often be a messy process. The yard is going to be torn up and there’s going to be a lot of equipment. And no matter how much we talk about that, sometimes it’s hard for people to visualize exactly what that means. That’s why we’re making more of an effort to show people projects that have already gotten started (not just the beautiful finished product that they ultimately become). It’s not to scare people but to prepare them. Your yard may be torn up for a while but it’s a stepping stone on the path to your dream outdoor living area.

Let's Connect

6. How Do You Stand Behind Your Work?

You’ve probably heard horror stories about landscape design companies that have left homeowners with a headache. Unfortunately, there are always stories like this because there are always going to be unscrupulous companies out there that fail to stand behind their work. They complete a landscape design project but when something goes wrong (say a retaining wall starts to sink or a patio paver cracks), they’re nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, you can prevent some of these issues at the forefront by properly vetting the companies that you’re considering. Ask them how they stand behind their work.

  • Do you offer a warranty? 
  • How will you handle it if something goes wrong? 
  • Will I have to wait a long time to get a resolution? 

You should be able to feel confident that you aren’t going to be left with an issue and no resolution should a problem arise.

At Blanchford Landscape Group, for instance, we have a very strong warranty that includes five years on any workmanship or material issues. That means, if something goes wrong, we’ll take care of it.

In fact, whereas most companies push off warranty work so they can keep focusing on new business, we actually prioritize it. That means that if a warranty issue arises, we’ll correct it quickly, even if it means putting it ahead of pursuing new work. 

This is all in line with our mission to build long-term relationships with our clients. We’re not the type of company that moves on to the next project and forgets we ever knew you. We are all about building ongoing relationships which is why we prioritize our existing customers.

7. Can You Maintain My Finished Project, Too?

Similarly to how we talked about the design/build process, we also suggest that you ask about whether or not the company can provide landscape maintenance services. A lot of design/build companies do not delve into maintenance but we think that is a great disservice to the client. After all, nobody knows the space quite like the company that designed and built it.

aerail view of landscape designed and built by Blanchford Landscape Group

At Blanchford Landscape Group, we really believe in maintaining long-term, ongoing relationships with clients. That’s why we like to work with clients in which we design, build, and maintain their spaces. We provide maintenance through our Garden Services division and we can offer a comprehensive Garden Services Plan that will ensure the space continues to look and perform its best even as it evolves and grows over time.

Clients choose us to do all three of those things because nobody knows the space better than we do (after all, we designed and built it). For a lot of homeowners, this is a really big value add to working with Blanchford.

Making the Best Choice in Landscape Designers

Getting the ball rolling on an outdoor living project by starting to consider landscape design companies in Big Sky and Bozeman, MT is undoubtedly an exciting process. Whether it’s something that you’ve been thinking about for years or it’s a relatively new idea, beginning the research process is the first step toward making that dream a reality.

aerial view of patio designed by landscape designer in Bozeman, MT

This is also the time to consider the gravity of your decision and recognize that it’s your research that can help prevent a lot of headaches that could have a negative impact on the process as a whole. 

You want to be able to feel confident that you’ve chosen the best company for the job.

At Blanchford Landscape Group, we are committed to continually improving. We are always challenging ourselves to be better and we are serious about not becoming stagnant. Our design process is comprehensive because we recognize just how important these outdoor living spaces are that we are creating. 

Not only do we perform design work, but we build these projects as well. And, we can see them all the way through to maintenance, which is a big value-add for our clients who don’t want to go out and have to find a new company to maintain their new space. They already know and trust us and would rather just keep the relationship going.

In the end, your decision in choosing the right landscape designer is a big one. But by choosing wisely now, you can prevent so many problems on the back end. In fact, by making that wise choice in landscape design companies, you can ditch the worries about how your project will come together and instead simply enjoy watching your vision take shape.

Are you ready to get the process of designing your outdoor living area started at your Bozeman or Big Sky, MT home? Let’s connect and talk about your project. Then, we can meet and begin talking about your ideas! We can’t wait for you to be able to enjoy your amazing space.

Landscape Design Worksheet Download CTA

Let's Connect

Topics: Landscape Design

Posted by Mason Shaffer

Mason has earned both a degree in Ornamental Horticulture and a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture prior to joining our team in 2011. Outside of work, you will find Mason spending quality time with his wife and two little girls. They will likely be exploring the outdoors, camping, fishing, golfing, planting, or just playing in the dirt.