How Do I Get Started?
First things first. Check the Consumer Affairs Victoria website and make sure you are aware of legal requirements for both you, and the landscaper you engage.
Go to Find a Member and find two or three designers or landscapers in your local area. Have a chat initially on the phone and check out their websites to get an idea of their work and proceed from there with your chosen landscape professional.
Have a Realistic Budget in Mind
A beautiful landscape costs money and takes time, it's only on television that it happens over a weekend for a little bit of money! Start with your wishlist and work back from there. If you include everything upfront, a designer can include all of these things in your plan and then break the construction down into manageable stages. But be realistic, the more construction required, the more expensive the project will be. Items like swimming pools, retaining walls, dry stone walls cannot be achieved within a $10,000 budget and if a landscaper suggests they can do it for this - be skeptical, you do get what you pay for!
Engage a Landscape Designer
The design of your garden is as important as the design of your home, therefore it is essential you consider the professional advice of a qualified and skilled designer who can carefully consider your needs for your garden and the site conditions to create a successful outdoor space that will enhance your lifestyle and add value to your property.
A landscape designer will assist you to identify your needs and uses of the outside space you are planning to have landscaped plus take into account the site conditions. This is very important because every garden is different due to it's position in regards to the weather, the relationship between the outside space and inside view and the people who are going to use the space. What works for your neighbours or friends may not necessarily work for you. Having a landscape designer develop a landscape plan for you will ultimately save you money and the end result will be far more successful.
Plants to Consider
A landscape designer will be able to put togther a plant list specific to your garden. For more ideas, take a walk around your neighbourhood - this will give you a reasonable idea of which plants are doing well in the local area under similar weather and soil conditions and will also give you information about size and maintenance.
Using Registered Building Practitioners
Legally all landscapers undertaking structural works (paving, decking, pergolas, pools) over $5,000 should be a Registered Building Practitioner. As with any tradesperson or professional you are considering engaging in a project with, ask to see a copy of their registration as proof before you commence working with them. Additionally, only Registered Building Practitioners can offer domestic building insurance.
You can find out more about this from the Victorian Building Authority www.vba.vic.gov.au. All relevant membership categories of Landscaping Victoria that require landscapers to be Registered Building Practitioners are either already registered, or are in the process of becoming so. To find a Registered Building Practitioner, search our member list for a landscape builder and select the 'I need a Registered Building Practitioner' box.