The Drawbacks of Design / Build Landscaping

by Ben Bowen

Landscape Designer vs Design / Build Contractor

One of our landscape installations, with a design by Mike Ellena.

One of our landscape installations, with a design by Mike Ellena.

I recently wrote about the advantages of working with a landscape design/build contractor, like Ross NW Watergardens. And while I believe in the model, I recognize that it has some drawbacks. Here are a few I can think of:

  • Flexibility. Designers certainly have their own style, but design/build firms have their preferred style and specific skill set. For example, we have two skilled stone masons as crew members. So, not surprisingly, I like to include stone elements in a design. If you have your own unique vision (like a tropical garden in the PNW) it may be easier to pursue this with a designer.
  • Continuity. One drawback of larger (than us) design / build firms is that the designer you work with may be an employee- and might not be working there the next time you need a design.
  • Space. The independent designer can serve as a buffer between you and the landscape contractor. This might be desirable if you are nervous about working with a contractor or have been burned in the past. Maybe you just know that you don't have the temperament to deal with the inevitable frustrations of construction. A designer can be hired to help manage the project for you, taking that friction out of the picture.

The landscape designer, working solo or as part of a design/build firm, is a key element to a successful landscape project. Look carefully at your project and personality, then pick what works best for you!

Are there other drawbacks? Probably. Feel free to leave them in the comments!