I talk with a lot of homeowners who are eager to get their hands dirty and dig into their next landscaping project. While there are some great ways you can add sweat equity to your home’s outdoor projects, there are also instances when it’s probably best to hire a professional contractor.

Planting

should-i-diy-or-hire-a-professiona-landscaping-companyPlanting is probably the easiest thing for you to do on your own. However, you should consider using a contractor for larger plant material which is anything bigger than a 7-gallon pot or 2-inch caliper tree. You’ll also be safer to consider a pro for mass plantings in difficult areas such as a steep slope. If you do tackle a project yourself, make sure you have the appropriate equipment such as a shovel, wheel barrel and mattock.

Patio (Pavers/Flagstone)

When building a patio, it’s best to stick with a professional contractor, especially when you’re working with materials such as pavers or flagstone. Contractors use a lot of specialized tools for patio installations such as line levels, laser levels, plate compactors, chop saws and others. They also have the process down pat and can install most projects rather quickly. If you’re doing it on your own, you’ll likely spend a great deal of money on materials and rental equipment — a risky investment considering the experience level of an average homeowner.

Boulders

Boulders provide a very naturalistic look to an outdoor space. They’re often used for retention of a slope or as elements in a water feature. This is one area for which it’s absolutely better to hire a professional. Because of the size, weight and irregular shape of boulders, you risk serious injury should something go wrong. It takes a lot of skill to handle boulders well and ensure a natural-looking finished product. For that reason, we don’t recommend you do boulder work on your own. There are a lot of great contactors in East Tennessee who are very skilled at this type of work and we’d be happy to help you find one for your project.

Retaining Walls

The most important thing to consider with regards to retaining walls is safety — your own and that of your family and friends. If you’re building a retaining wall, the goal is typically to control a slope by holding it back or up. If this is done incorrectly, you risk personal injury or damage to surrounding property should the wall fail. Retaining walls should be built to certain specifications which are mostly unfamiliar to the average homeowner. That’s why we recommend hiring a professional for most walls. For wall projects such as raised gardens, bed edges or seat walls that aren’t structural in nature, you’re taking much less of a risk if you decide to tackle it on your own. For any project, it’s great to have some professional guidance. That’s why we offer DIY landscape plans with a step-by-step guide for getting things done.

Lighting

The average lighting hardware available to homeowners at big box retailers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot is very low quality. Commercial grade lighting companies engineer their products and typically warranty them for five years (10 for most LED components). By hiring a professional to design the landscape lighting, you’ll be certain you’re getting a layout that takes into account things such as beam spread and temperature or color of the light. These are the things that take average landscape lighting to artistic. By having a pro install the lighting, you’ll also ensure things are done safely.

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