Landscapers, Hardscapers, and Landscape Architects
All landscapers are the same right? Outside of the profession and a few insurance agents, many are unaware of the subtypes of landscapers that exist. This confusion is often compounded by many landscaping companies offering different types of services in Victoria BC. Here we will look at hopefully clearing some of that confusion.
Softscaping is what many people think of when they think of landscapers. Softscaping involves everything from cutting lawns to trimming trees and bushes. These services are often priced hourly and/or on a subscription plan such as $xx per month. Generally speaking, softscapers deal with property maintenance. Tools that these landscapers use are generally hand held tools such as leaf blowers, trimmers, weed wackers, with the exception of perhaps the zero turn mowers one sees once in a while. You can notice them on the road with the trailers and pickup trucks full of branches and leaves. A landscaper who does this sort of work will almost never be at the same property for longer than a day and for most properties, a few hours. Beside working on trees and bushes, you will also see them doing lawn maintenance including aeration, fertilizing, de-weeding, and applying mulch.
Hardscaping is more construction related. Landscapers who do hardscaping build structures. The landscape structures that are often constructed include patios, retaining walls, walkways, driveways, new lawns, pools (though not perhaps so much in Victoria), stairs, lighting, outdoor kitchens, and outdoor firepits.
Often times the hardscaper will be using more heavy equipment such as skid loaders, excavators, and jackhammers. They will often have a larger trailer to haul and dump large amounts of materials such as many cubic yards of soils, gravel, and concrete wastes.
The hardscaper will often be at a property for many days or weeks as these are often large scale projects involving many man hours. The price tag will be a one time cost rather than a subscription model seen with many maintenance based softscapers.
Any time you see a landscaper hauling around loads of gravel, top soil, or heavy machinery, they are most likely a hardscaper landscaper.
These are more engineers and often have a 4 year engineering or related degree. They can brand themselves as landscape designers and are responsible for more complex and structurally intensive projects. For example, when retaining walls reach a certain size and/or are holding up a structure such as a garage or a house, safety becomes more dependent on accurate specs. Their skillset usually include a mixture of post secondary mathematics in conjunction with an artistic design mindset. For residential landscape projects in Victoria, these are very rarely used, with at most 5% of the population choosing to use one. Typically they charge between $500-1500 per design, depending on complexity.
When selecting which landscaper to hire then, make sure you have the correct type. Someone who does a lot of tree trimming will be great at the maintenance side of things but will have little to no experience necessarily with building a retaining wall. Someone may have had a decade or more of experience building patios but have no idea how to trim a hedge to perfection. Ensure you are paying for the right expertise and experience!