For all the advice, we chat with Grant Boyle, founder of Fig Landscapes, an established landscape and construction company located in Sydney. As we know from Grant, it pays to do your research and get the right team on board from the start to help you realise your dream outdoor space.

Landscape designer versus landscaper

“A landscape designer is a professional who designs outdoor spaces and gardens by preparing detailed plans, sketches or concepts for clients,” says Grant. Typically, a landscape designer will have a high level of plant and horticultural knowledge. “They apply this knowledge to site specifics as well as the client’s tastes and budgets. Time to get creative!”

A landscaper, on the other hand,  is a professional who is often highly adept across many trades. “A skilled landscaper will be capable of building decks, pergolas and bbq’s, as well as paving, retaining walls and pools. They work across several mediums such as concrete, timber, stone and brick. It’s hard but rewarding work,” says Grant. 

When should you choose one over the other?

“Essentially you need both!,” recommends Grant.

“Engage a designer first; once you have a set of plans and a concept to work with, you can find the right landscaper for you.” If the landscape designer doesn’t do the construction in house, they’ll recommend a few professionals to carry out the works.

‘Coledale’ project by Fig Landscapes

The benefits of paying for a landscape design

It’s often hard for some to justify paying for a landscape design plan on top of financing the construction.  It can certainly add to the overall costs, but it can also save you in the long run and provide better results. 

“The process with a landscape designer will allow you to explore different options for your garden,” says Grant.  “A good designer will also be able to connect with you and understand your lifestyle and needs and create a garden that is the perfect fit for you.”

While you may feel like you’re paying for a few pieces of paper, creating a landscape without a plan opens the doors for costly mistakes. A designer may also present to you innovative options you hadn’t previously considered.

The advantage of working with a design and construct team

As the founder of a design and construct company, Grant believes there are plenty of advantages to engaging a team who offers both disciplines in house versus two separate contractors.

Design and construct teams are great,” says Grant. “There’s a more streamlined approach to the project and any changes or hiccups can be resolved really quickly on site and with minimal fuss.”

If you’ve found your perfect landscape designer, it’s not imperative you go with a ‘design and construct’ team, however. Typically, an established landscape design firm will have a list of their recommended contractors who they know can carry out the works at the quality they desire.

Who will help with council requirements?

“Landscapers should have a general understanding of council requirements in terms of building,” Grant says.  “A landscape designer will be able to assist in future plans and development.” 

If you are requiring council permits, in most cases you’ll need plans to submit with your application.

Grant’s 3 tips when choosing the right designer or landscaper

1. Do your research. Put together a Pinterest board to help you get inspired for your project and convey your ideas to the landscape designer. 

2. Connect with your designer. Afterall you are trusting them with your garden (and your budget), so they need to understand you and your family.

3. Enjoy the experience. Designing your garden can be so much fun, and you will get out what you put in!

See more of Fig Landscapes work and services here.