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How To Hire A Landscape Designer in Richmond, VA

There are a lot of landscape design teams working in and around the Richmond, VA area. While there are plenty of options available for every style and budget out there, knowing who to trust with an expensive backyard renovation is tricky. Understanding what questions to ask, what factors to consider, and how to make the right choice for your outdoor living space is hard. Today we’re going to talk about how to hire a landscape designer in Richmond that’s right for you.

Whether you’ve been looking at your options for a while or you’re completely new to the world of landscape design, we’ve put together a list of questions and considerations to keep in mind before picking your designer. While Water and Earth is working in the Richmond, VA area, this advice can be used no matter where you are on the map.

What to Consider Before Reaching Out to a Landscape Designer

So, you’ve got a vision for your space and you’re eager to get the ball rolling. It’s always tempting to reach out to the first few companies with decent reviews and trust that things will work out. However, when you’re spending this much money on your home, it’s worth slowing down and thinking things through. Here are some things to consider before you ever reach out to a landscape designer, in Richmond or in any other city.


If you’re trying to determine whether or not a landscape design team is right for you, the first place you should look is their portfolio. In Richmond, VA and around the country, the best landscape design teams will have their work readily available. Whether you’re looking at examples on social media or on their formal website, a complete and robust portfolio is a sign that the company is proud of their work.

Landscape design teams that feature very few photos of their work are harder to trust. Not only will you be unable to determine what type of designs their team is producing, but you will be unable to assess the quality of the work as well. Almost anybody can put together convincing website copy, but there’s simply no substitute that can take the place of a great portfolio.

This is why Water and Earth showcases our finished designs across all of our platforms. Whether you’re scrolling our Instagram, or browsing our completed projects on our website, our goal is to show every potential client that we are proud of the work we do.

Design-Build vs Design-Only

When you’re looking to redo your outdoor space, one of the first decisions you will make is to choose between a design or design-build company. It can be tempting to choose a company that seems like a one-stop shop for completing your entire space from design to construction. However, there’s a lot a design-build company can’t do.

Design only companies like Water and Earth gives you the benefit of a yard that is designed completely to your tastes. Instead of pushing designs to construction as quickly as possible, we are able to take our time and ensure that every detail is right for you and your family. And once your design has the green light, we’ll be able to reach out to the contractors that are best suited for your space.


A lot of companies claim that they do it all. From traditional to modern, lots of designers will want you to think that they specialize in exactly what you’re looking for. While it’s true that many companies can have a diverse portfolio, most will lean more in one design direction. Even the most diverse designers have preferences, and these preferences usually find a way into the work they do.

In Richmond, VA, many landscape design companies are still completely largely traditional outdoor spaces. In southern California, however, far more companies are interested exclusively in modern spaces. The key is to do your research, and pick a design company that specializes in what you love.

When you’re hunting for a landscape design company that is right for you, consider your own personal style. What does your dream space look like? Browsing portfolios of popular designers in your area can give you a feel for who is known for what type of work. Most times, the portfolio that has the greatest number of designs in a style you love is the one you should reach out to first.


Last but certainly not least, we would be remiss if we forgot to tell you to check reviews. In today’s world, consumers have more access to customer reviews than ever before. From testimonials, to review platforms like Yelp, Google, and Houzz, be sure to check out a company’s reputation. While we recommend taking some online opinions with a grain of salt, repetitive negative reviews are indeed a red flag.

Questions to Ask Your Potential Landscape Designer

Is your online portfolio your work?

Everything on the internet is not what it seems. Logically, we know that. However, for many of us it’s easier to trust that what a business is presenting is a direct reflection of their work. In design, that is not always the case.

On occasion, a landscape design company will finish their website using images that are not captures of their own completed projects. Many times, stock images may be used in place of true, representative images of their work. And while this seems like something that would be easy to catch, many landscape designers are able to get away with it, both here in Richmond and around the country.

If you’re leaning towards a certain landscape design company and like the images you see on their website, ask the designer for more details about the project. When was it completed? What materials were used? What was the budget? Honest designers will be able to provide answers to these questions and refer you to similar work in their portfolio.

This transparency is a big reason why at Water and Earth, we put so much time into our blog. We’re extremely proud of the work we’ve done, and we love breaking down our designs. If a client sees something they love on our website or social media profile, they can trust that we’re the team behind it.

Do you offer project management?

When deciding on your landscape designer, it’s responsible to think past the design process. After all, once your design has been approved, the real disruption to your lives will start. Construction and outdoor renovation can be a lot to handle. Depending on the size and scale of your project, the process contains many different working schedules, timelines, and budgets.

When you’re meeting with a landscape designer, ask them what happens after they hand the designs over to a contractor. Do they stay involved? Are they willing to help you navigate scheduling calls, budgeting concerns, and project timelines? If something goes wrong with the design during construction, will your landscape designer be there to help you right the wrong, and maintain the integrity of the design you approved?

We all like to think of ourselves as capable of handling stress. However, the truth of the matter is that we’re not all project managers. At Water and Earth, we will see a project through to completion. It is always our main goal to make sure your design is fully realized, and that the integrity of the project is preserved in the midst of the unexpected.

How many contractors do you work with?

If you choose to work with a design-only company, then you will need to consider what that means for the construction of your space. The best landscape design companies will have a sizable list of contractors that they work with regularly. No one contractor is the best fit for all projects, and having multiple contacts available ensures that your space gets the right builder.

Ask your potential landscape designer how many different contractors they work with. If the answer is very few, then you may want to keep looking. At Water and Earth, we’re proud to have a robust contact list of top of the line contractors in Richmond and the surrounding areas. We are confident that we will find the right people to do the job every time.

Is my budget realistic?

Nobody knows your financial situation better than you. Before approaching a designer, you should have a budget. How much are you willing to spend? Once you’ve determined this, it’s important to make this number clear to your designer. The right designer will be mindful of this number before even beginning work on your space.

At Water and Earth, we’re mindful of our clients' financial situations. If we don’t feel we are the right team for the job, we’re more than happy to refer homeowners to other companies who will better fit their needs. When all is said and done, the industry is not a monolith. No one company can suit the needs of every client. Good designers know this, and are happy to help point a client in the right direction, even if that direction is away from their company.

At the end of the day, picking the right landscape design for your outdoor living space is the difference between loving your backyard for years to come, and feeling like you’ve wasted your money on a space that doesn’t work for you. Before you get the ball rolling with a designer, make sure you’ve thought everything through. Knowing what to watch out for and what questions to ask will help you feel confident when selecting a landscape design team.

Check Out Our Portfolio!

Looking for a great designer for your outdoor space? Take the first step and check out our portfolio, or browse the blog for design walkthroughs and more industry advice. To keep up with current and upcoming outdoor spaces in Richmond, VA and beyond, follow us on Instagram.

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