If you are looking for an industry standard charge-out rate or a set cost per metre or perhaps a menu of garden features, then you are going to be disappointed because such a thing doesn't exist.
It is fair to assume that as a consumer you are looking for the best possible service at the lowest possible price but, if you are looking for a deal based purely on price alone and you do not take the skill or the experience of your contractor into consideration, then you could be on a slippery slope.
What is a landscaper?
Before engaging the services of a landscaper it is worth considering what a landscaper is and what a landscaper does.
Once again, there is no clear single definition of landscaper. Someone who landscapes might just specialise in one aspect such as laying paving stones without having knowledge of constructing lawns or understand planting, for example.
However, some landscapers - especially those who have extensive experience and have been in landscaping for a long time - can have a diverse range of skills and a good all round knowledge of many aspects of the trade - they may also be self taught.
Before you engage with a landscaper you will need to consider what it is exactly that you want doing before making your final decision. For example, asking a single person who specialises in dry stone walling to put up a fence adjacent to the wall that has just been built, might prove to be less than satisfactory if the stone waller does not have experience or knowledge of fencing.
Similarly, if you have employed a planting specialist to provide an extensive planting list and plant up your garden, this persons specialism might not extend to laying flag stones - you as the consumer need to consider these aspects before giving the go-ahead.
Larger landscape firms will often employ personnel that have multi-skills and/or specialisms in one particular trade.
It always pays to do extensive homework. After all, you are more than likely to be entering into a transaction that will almost certainly be in the £00's if not £000's.
Ask to see a recently completed project - even better, two or three. If the contractor has a website then spend time reading their supporting information. If it is littered with spelling mistakes, devoid of photographs and there are no client testimonials then consider other supporting information.
Are there any client testimonials supplied in typed or hand written format. If testimonials exist then make sure that they are dated, have an address and a signature - anyone can write a false testimonial and sign it off as 'A.S. From somewhereshire'.
One of the most efficient methods of finding the right landscaper is a referral from a friend. If you know someone who has just had their garden completed by a local reputable firm then you would be advised to talk to them in the first instance.
Your friend will be able to give you an indication of value for money, the level of service that they have experienced, the efficiency and professionalism before, during and immediately post construction and, if there have been any issues that caused the landscaper to return to site.
This can be the tricky part because there is no industry standard that clients can refer to. An individual landscaper with less than five years experience may well be 50% cheaper the cost of someone who has extensive experience and long service.
Similarly, a landscaping company employing several key staff may be considerable more expensive than that of a single person and at first glance but the level of experience and skills may exceed those of a smaller operation and therefore yo may benefit from a greater all round service.
Further reading - What does a gardener charge?