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View Full Version : Would you outsource a landscape design.


welz
03-18-2009, 04:57 PM
Has anyone thought of sending landscape designs to a third party (outsourcing) if a valuable client asked you if you could design a landscape and you could not due to no equipment or software, no time, etc.

Thanks.

White Gardens
03-19-2009, 12:13 AM
I do all my own.

Do a search in this forum, I know the topic came up a couple of months ago. Probably why nobody has responded.

Dreams To Designs
03-19-2009, 09:37 AM
Welz, it's an excellent idea to out source your design work. This coming from a designer/project manager for an independent design firm. If design is not your thing and you have clients that need designs for their own satisfaction, possible permit approval, or for project phasing.

There are many independent designers, perhaps someone local to your area that would be very happy to perform this service. A quality designer will improve the project and often make it a larger more profitable project. You can get CAD plans, materials lists, hopefully sound horticultural advice, plant lists and even 3D imaging when using the services of a professional landscape designer.

I would not recommend any of the internet design services. They are not interested in you or your project, just in drafting your plan for profit. You can go long distance if, you establish a relationship with the designer and your client is able to communicate with the designer, if necessary.

You may need to interview several designers to find what that works best with you, or your client. As has been discussed in a related thread, designers can be good or bad, reasonable or ridiculous, some may have great drawing or computer skills, while others have become horticulturists, it all depends on your needs.

The APLD is a source to find designers that are members in your state, and they may help you find someone more local or appropriate, if they don't work for you. http://apld.org/members/searchresult.asp

Kirk

AGLA
03-19-2009, 08:40 PM
I agree with Kirk (as usual).

The more remote your outsourced designer is from the project, either the project has to be fairly generic or the contractor has to be skilled and vigilant at measuring for a base plan, providing a good accurate site analysis, providing locale information (any regulations or horticultural concerns not found in reference sources), getting a clear understanding of the client and how the client will use the site, and an unusually good ability at communicating all of that without much getting lost in the translation.

The designer at the other end has to be more than a graphic artist with a copy of horticopia, or it will be more likely that the plan (or more likely a photoimage) will be more appealing than the built work.

That is hard to do, but it does get done.

Rule number one - if the designer has only a portfolio of mockups and no built work, it is probably a waste of time.

JimLewis
03-20-2009, 03:46 AM
I know this will probably piss someone off. Not my intention at all. But IMO, if you're not outsourcing design work, you got a pretty small business. Who the heck has time to be doing designs all the time? Heck, I spend 50-65 hours a week just running all the other aspects of my business. How the heck would I ever have time to also do all the designs too???

That's kind of an odd question. It's like asking, "Hey, has anyone ever considered hiring someone else to do the mowing for your company?" Well, heck ya! LOTS of people have not only considered it, but do it every day. There are some people who would reply, "No. I do all the mowing myself. And I like it that way." Fine. No problem with that. You want to be a Solo Op. and mow lawns your whole life, fine. But yah, a lot of people have and do hire other people do do that so they can have time to manager the larger issues involved with running and growing the business. Same exact thing with design. Plenty of qualified people out there who can do your designs for you. But only one person should be running your business. And eventually, if you're growing, you'll reach the point where there's just no time to do both. So you have to learn to delegate the design work.

AGLA
03-20-2009, 07:08 AM
Jim, don't forget that a lot of companies have staff designers who are not the owners. Using your own staff to mow grass or design is not outsourcing.

JimLewis
03-20-2009, 02:35 PM
Yah, I understand that too. But I don't know too many companies that employee FT designers. Around here, only companies that gross $5Mil - $30Mil employee FT designers. Hardly anyone else I know has them on staff. So I was assuming that most of the people here on Lawnsite don't employee FT designers. But I could be wrong.

AGLA
03-20-2009, 08:00 PM
You are right about that. It is difficult to keep a full time designer. Partly because there is not enough design work for 40 hours a week all year and they usually either don't want to do a lot of construction labor (sometimes for good reason like age or injury) or the company has little else for them to remain productive besides labor.

RHayden
03-20-2009, 11:15 PM
I would outsource all of mine to AGLA anytime. Seriously- if the client wants- or the job justifies- a full blown set of plans etc. my measurements, notes, and pics all go to a non-local lady who produces a professional design.

No way I could justify a full time designer and no one is ever going to confuse me with one either.

AGLA
03-22-2009, 08:14 AM
RHAYDEN sums up what a contractor needs to do in order for it to work- measure, notes, & pics ....and someone who can handle it at the other end. It is not just a hand off.

Turf Logic
03-23-2009, 06:52 PM
Yah, I understand that too. But I don't know too many companies that employee FT designers. Around here, only companies that gross $5Mil - $30Mil employee FT designers. Hardly anyone else I know has them on staff. So I was assuming that most of the people here on Lawnsite don't employee FT designers. But I could be wrong.

We had one for awhile when we were busy because we were constantly bidding custom homes and we generally won the bid but now that the market has slowed down we had to let her to go. I would say outsourcing is not a way to go but if you live in a small area make sure you find a honest designer who is not telling your competition everything you are doing. I have had a problem with this in the past.

PaperCutter
03-23-2009, 08:46 PM
I would say outsourcing is not a way to go but if you live in a small area make sure you find a honest designer who is not telling your competition everything you are doing. I have had a problem with this in the past.

How can someone be that stupid?

JimLewis
03-23-2009, 10:35 PM
We had one for awhile when we were busy because we were constantly bidding custom homes and we generally won the bid but now that the market has slowed down we had to let her to go. I would say outsourcing is not a way to go but if you live in a small area make sure you find a honest designer who is not telling your competition everything you are doing. I have had a problem with this in the past.

Well, there's a simple fix to that. I am happy with the designer we use now. But back when I was looking at different designers, that was always one thing I would inquire about - did they do work for other landscapers in town? If the answer was yes, I usually wouldn't use that designer. I always wanted designers who would be as loyal to me (referring people to me when their customers asked for a referral for a landscaper as I was to them when someone asked me about a design. If I felt they couldn't be as loyal as I wanted, I'd move on and find another designer who could be loyal and was really LOOKING for a landscaper to work closely with.

PerfectEarth
03-23-2009, 10:48 PM
I'm considering doing this exact thing right now. I love to do my own designs and I don't think I'll stop....I just need someone to put it to paper, with proper numbers and spacing. I'm good on plants and concept- I just need a good designer to throw it all together (more like a collaboration type of thing). I've picked up a couple cards in the past few days.

It's a time thing. I just don't have the time or energy to do a nice, presentable drawing. I'd much rather pay someone a percentage for this part of a project. Absolutely nothing wrong with it. Thanks for that site link. Might be handy.

Utahlandscaping
03-28-2009, 01:46 PM
We outsource every single one of our designs. It's actually a mutually beneficial arrangement. Often times, our design firm will turn us on to larger projects and we obviously send them a ton of design work. The problem is finding a designer who is actually talented. They seem to be far and few between.

3D-Designs
03-31-2009, 06:46 PM
We outsource every single one of our designs. It's actually a mutually beneficial arrangement. Often times, our design firm will turn us on to larger projects and we obviously send them a ton of design work. The problem is finding a designer who is actually talented. They seem to be far and few between.

You are exactly right. Most designers have no formal training. I have reviewed countless designs over the years from so called designers and you wouldn't believe what people are convinced to buy. Most of these guys are people who started landscape businesses and just grew into "designing" landscapes. They have no idea where and why plants go where they should go. I will say , there are some out there that are pretty good and they usually have a number of years in the business. Most are just people who started to go to nurseries and design landscapes off the tags on the plants. I would recommend interviewing designers. If they don't have a Bachelors degree in Horticulture with design experience, years of extensive experience in the local environment and a heavy design credentials, or a landscape architect, I would shy away from them. It cracks me up to see people rip out an old landscape and have a new landscape put in with the same old crappy plants. Some of these guys have no clue and do a great job of "selling" the landscape.

Utahlandscaping
03-31-2009, 07:01 PM
Good post. A good landscape architect will save you a ton of money by making sure you have proper plant placement. We know what looks good but as far as sun/shade, soil, etc, thats where our architect helps a ton. Not to mention, they almost act as a surveyor. Once we get our construction documents, we know every grade change, drainage issue, etc. The design firm we use actually helps oversee the project and manage it as well. A good landscape design firm is worth their weight in gold and ultimately will save you FAR more money than they cost. Interviewing several is a great idea.