Real Life Landscaping: How I Found & Hired My Native Garden Landscaper

Garden sign that says

After deciding to finally make moves this spring to improve our landscaping using native plants (read about my landscaping challenges here), I was faced with finding the right person or company to help me. Before I could do that, I had to decide on my project’s budget.

My Unscientific Approach to Setting a Budget

I based my project budget on a ballpark of what I remembered paying the first time we did our landscaping (it did include hard landscaping, too, so I accounted for that). I also used my intuition and what I wanted to put into my yard this time around. Not very scientific, but I think that’s how most of us come to such decisions. #Adulting

Refusing to be a Small Fish in a Big Pond

Wasp on purple coneflower

There is a local native nursery that I know does installations in addition to their retail shop. I used their website to arrange for a consult. After playing phone tag for three days (getting to an incoming phone call is like catching lightning in a bottle for me), I finally had a chance to talk with them. The man explained he’s a third party hired out by the nursery. He went on talking about his credentials for about 30 minutes. One of his projects was a $20 million Bahama resort landscaping project complete with a nursery they had to build on-site. This was a giant red flag to me (very impressive though); my project was not going to have a suitable budget for this man. I’m happy to pay for someone’s knowledge and time; however, I was not spending a lot of money on this project. I forwardly asked him the usual budget for projects he works on. He said that minimum is usually $8-10k. I told him my budget was about $1,000 and he began to temper things by talking about how he worked with a little old woman who had a budget like mine. He was so kind, but I honestly didn’t want to be a tiny fish in his pond. I know it’s not a lot of money to some, but I wanted to hire a person who will be able to make my budget work well and happily give me time and attention. Very disappointedly, I moved on.

Tapping my Favorite Resource

I have a Facebook group for everything (literally everything I’m interested in or want to learn more about) and so I went straight to my Florida gardening group. It’s a group filled with incredibly helpful and passionate gardeners. I figured they could steer me in the right direction. I wrote a post asking for recommendations in my area for landscapers who specialize in native plants. And boy did they deliver–I received six recommendations! Unfortunately, the company I already contacted was most commonly recommended. But there was a gem that was suggested three times which I didn’t know about. It’s always a great sign when multiple people agree on how great a business is. I went to the website and loved what I saw. I quickly emailed her and she was highly responsive via email. We set-up a time for her to come see the project, I paid for the consult, and she arrived 10 days later. At that appointment, we discussed my vision, my preference for specific textures, shapes, and colors, and also discussed her approach for design and how that would translate to my landscaping.

Moving the Project Forward

A week later, she emailed me a complete project plan with a computer mock-up of my home and suggested plants. It included the specific plant varieties she recommended and detailed information about them. I had a very clear picture of what she recommended. I was over the moon happy! The only change we made was the addition of a few more flowers because I really can’t ever have enough. Two weeks later, she and her team arrived for installation!

Sharing What I Learned

My small pond and sandbox before and after my native garden makeover

How to Find a Great Native Plant Landscaper:

  1. Source your gardening friends to ask around. If you don’t have any, join community groups like Facebook to find them. Use search terms like your state/city/area to explore which gardening groups are there. I belong to a local crunchy mom group—questions about local native nurseries come up from time to time; a place like that could also be a goldmine for suggestions.
  2. Ask your local native nurseries. They may provide design and/or installation services, too. The new local native shop actually recommended the landscaper I hired.
  3. Ask the right questions and don’t be shy:
  1. What is the average budget for the clients that you work with?
  2. What is your approach when designing a native landscape?
  3. Do you supply a product list for me to learn about the plants’ needs?
  4. How soon could you take on the project, if I move forward?
  5. My budget is $X, is that something you could work with?
  6. Do you do installations or only design consults? (Some do the design and hand you a plan to DIY or hire out the rest.)

On a personal level, I found it easy to talk with my landscaper from the very beginning. She answered all my questions and even took the care to answer questions from my curious little boy. She understood what was important to me in my project and equipped me with so much knowledge. I loved how quick she was to respond to me before and after the installation. At install, she and the team did a beautiful job and left everything clean. My landscaping included a couple native plants you can purchase right here at DNP: Beautyberry https://www.directnat  Purple Coneflower  Garden Sign

My front garden after my native garden makeover
My pond and sandbox after my native garden makeover

Nicole Karon is a crunchy momma (to two amazing young kids), wife, Transformation Coach, and marketing consultant. She’s been living a non-toxic lifestyle for 17 years and is highly dedicated to creating a healthy life for her family. More about Nicole can be found on her website,

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