Top Landscape Designer ~ How should you choose your designer?

When looking to design your landscape, begin with the right designer.

Landscape design greatly increases both the beauty and the value of your home.  Far from an extra, a gorgeous landscape is the FIRST impression visitors, potential buyers, and neighbors get about you and your home. It showcases your style and taste and shows your community the level at which you are concerned with keeping an aesthetically pleasing, nature friendly, and generally inviting neighborhood.  Landscape design is also an investment, and with every good investment, it’s important to do your research to make sure that you invest soundly and properly.  Your decision to design a fresh or new landscape begins with choosing your designer.

top landscape designer

Brent Knoll happy with his garden tour

Landscape Designer ~ What should I look for?


The first thing you need to look for in a top landscape designer is experience in the area in which you live.  Every region and climate has particulars which will come into play in your design.  Your designer must understand the soil quality, prevailing environmental conditions, plant materials that work for your zone and location, and many other factors in order to make recommendations which are realistic and which will truly give you the results you’re looking for.  

Artistic Talent 

We all know that categorizing art as “good” or “bad” can be a relative thing.  Different people enjoy different types of artistic expression.  But let’s be honest.  Two people may carry out the same artistic task, and one may do it in a way which is voted more pleasing by general concensus.  We tend to classify those broadly approved of artists as “talented” or “good” at what they do.  When it comes to choosing a top landscape designer, look for their portfolio on their website or ask to see images of their work.  Their pictures will showcase their ability to carry out a truly aesthetically pleasing design.  Find a designer whose work resonates with your own artistic taste, and you will find a match that you should be able to work well with.

Broad Range of Design Styles

Many landscape designers specialize in one or two types of designs, and while the argument may be made that they are specialists in those areas, they may not offer the artistic flexibility required to give you the particular style you are looking for.  Versatility regarding style is essential because each design client is unique, ecclectic, or purist in their own way and needs to be able to be fully heard and understood as they express their aspirations for their garden space.  Find a top landscape designer who seems “style flexible” enough for you to comfortably offer all your ideas, knowing they will all be considered workable for the designer.  If you can, view their website and peruse their list of styles offered to get a feel for their adaptability.

Reviews and References

Finding a top landscape designer who is professional and easy to work with will be greatly reflected in the reviews available and references offered by the designer.  Research web sources such as Yelp, Houzz, and Angie’s List to read reviews which will give you first hand insight from past clients regarding the reliability and competence of your potential designer.  Sources like Houzz also offer colleague reviews so you can see what other professionals think of your designer as well.  Contact your potential landscape designer and ask for references and samples of their work as well to get a well-rounded feel for what they offer.

top landscape designer

My happy clients, the Fors

A Designer Who Offers Installation and Other Follow Up

Knowing how to use AutoCAD or a design program to create a paper design and truly knowing from hands-on experience how the design will work out in the real world are very separate things.  A design and an installation can be at complete odds in moving from paper to planting.  Meeting a landscape designer who strongly encourages you to use his/her company for the installation process means that you have met a designer who is confident in the full extent of their design abilities.  This designer is one who will go to great lengths to create your design as a personal artistic expression, often going so far as to hand-pick every plant which goes into their design.  This designer will also offer follow up visits to track the progress and upkeep of their designs, often suggesting tried-and-true fertilization programs and other amenities. Again, view your landscape designer’s website, check out client reviews and references to see to what extent your potential designer will walk with you through the landscape design process.

top landscape designer

landscape plans

Community Involvement

We all know community involvement is important.  How present we are with our friends, families, neighbors, and communities is a measure of our investment in these areas.  All relationships require constant care, and a good landscape designer is also a good member of their neighborhood.  Has your designer been known to organize community events, educate by offering workshops or lectures, or participate in community service?  Don’t be afraid to ask about this important personal aspect of public outreach.  

top landscape designer

Brent Knoll and Sarah Reimer with the kids


Last, but certainly not least is communication.  The landscape design and installation process are just that, a process which takes time, thought, and calculated orderly moves to execute.  Your landscape design process may take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to several months, and during this time, rest assured adjustments will be made, opinions about plant materials and placement may be reevaluated etc, and you will need a landscape designer who will be available to communicate with you on a multimedia level.  A top landscape designer will be available to you via phone calls, consultations, texts, videos, emails, and possibly through social media.  They will make every venue of communication accesible for you so that you can feel comfortable with the entire design process.  Feel free once more to locate their business reviews and ask their references about their ability to communicate during the design process.

What mistakes should you avoid when seeking a landscape designer?

Now that we have discussed some key pointers in finding the top landscape designer for you, let’s go over some don’ts that can be serious road blocks to having a smooth and painless landscape design process.

DON’T use an inexperienced designer.

An inexperienced or beginner designer may seem appealing on several levels.  Maybe they’re offering you a “good deal” or you want to help the beginner out, but a smart beginner will apprentice under a master designer first in order to give quality service to their clients.  You’ll be better off finding someone with some experience, and the more experience, the better.

DON’T use a “Landscape Service” over a Landscape Designer.

Landscape service companies are best known for offering landscape maintenance like lawn care and fertilization, but they may try to offer you design and installation as well.  While some of these companies may have a good designer working for them, many of them don’t and you may be the recipient of a generic and unsatifying “design” and an underpar installation.  Generally, the employees of these companies are not soil experts, plant experts, or designers and therefore may know little when it comes to giving you a landscape which is worth your time and money.  Leave the maintenence to these companies, and the design to the seasoned landscape designers.

DON’T use a designer who doesn’t get your style.

Again, landscape design is art.  Choose an artist who resonates with your personal style and taste.  Schedule a consultation with your potential designer, and tell them your ideas.  See how they resonate and collaborate with you on the project.  Do they understand your personal flair?  Do they seem to have experience with what you are looking for?  Can they readily make plant and material recommendations that seem to perfectly fit your ideas?  For a pain free way to get some of this info on your designer, look again at their website portfolio and design styles offered to see if you may be a good match to work with each other.

DON’T use a designer who has no web presence or references.

The web is the modern easy access way we find much of what we’re looking for.  And web presence is more than just having a great website.  It’s about social media, interacting with your audience, and participation on review-based websites like Yelp, Houzz, and Angie’s List, making your info and your references readily available to potential clients.  Not providing these things to clients may mean shady business, lack of innovation, or laziness.  While this isn’t always true (many old businesses which are very established in their communities haven’t caught up to the available technology), it’s certainly an angle to consider.

DON’T look for fast-food service.

Let’s face it.  We live in a fast-paced world.  We’ve learned to want what we want and want it now, and while that’s good for creating efficiency, it can hamper quality.  Expect your designer to give you a window of at least 2-4 weeks to complete your design.  Remember, a busy designer is a GOOD designer!  DO expect them to stay in great communication with you throughout your process, but realize that a great design takes time.  From the consultation, to picture-taking, constructing your design, researching plant material, compiling price lists and proposals, giving presentations, okaying material with you, making plan adjustments, scheduling installation, etc, there is a lot going on!  Be prepared to set aside the time needed to allow the landscape design process to flow naturally.  The beauty which will surround you will give you years and years of enjoyment as a reward for your patience.

It’s time to find your landscape designer!

Knoll Landscape Design is a versatile and sustainability-focused company which has been serving the Miami, South Florida area for over 20 years.  Landscape Designer Brent Knoll knows the soil, the plants, and the climate of South Florida with the deep awareness that comes from continued hands-on experience and personal attention to every aspect of his client’s designs.  He knows what works in our rocky, sandy soil, and can guide you into a design that will look fantastic AND thrive.  Brent has the aesthetic eye of an artist and knows a broad range of landscape design styles.  He offers installation and all the follow up you need to make sure your project flourishes.  He is a excellent communicator, a fan of social media, and is excited to share his reviews and references with his clients.  In his spare time, he has created several community gardens, hosted many workshops and lectures, and participated my many enjoyable community service projects.  If you are in the Miami-South Florida area, and are looking for a designer for your project, give Brent Knoll a call at 305.496.5155.

top landscape designer teaching group about organic gardening

Brent giving a garden tour

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