I hope this isn't off-topic. I've got a garden design sketched out for my back yard. Part of my enjoyment of this project is designing the garden and then making my design into reality.

That said, I'm fairly new to this and I think having a professional review my design may help me find any major problems before I learn them the hard way.

I've reached out to some local design companies and the response from them is that they'll do a paid consultation and if I like what they say, they can do a design for me. I'm sure their design would be better, but it's not what I'm looking for.

My Question: Am I going about this wrong? Is there a better way to get a consultation about my design? I'm happy to pay for it (these people are professionals who have to make a living). I just don't want to be upsold.

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you want a professional to have a look at your plan and just correct/critique it, rather than asking the professional to come up with a design they think will suit you. Whilst it should be possible to get someone to simply critique what you've done already, were it me, I'd need to visit, inspect the area, and measure up accurately, then look at what you've drawn. All that comes at a cost, but if you're using reasonably sized companies, they may not be interested in charging a simple consultation fee for their time. Obviously, if you were asking them to plan something for you from scratch and produce a drawing, that's a higher cost than just a consultation, which would be more rewarding for them.

Depending on how much knowledge you do have of plants and landscaping though, it may be that whatever you've drawn is not entirely viable for various reasons, so it's likely that anyone you do consult will still need to come up with a design and drawing that will work, but they should be able to incorporate or loosely follow your ideas, if they are doable; part of the consultation process is finding out what the client wants and interpreting it into a design anyway, along with having the knowledge and skill to know what will work over time. And that's what you're really paying for...

  • Thanks! I hadn't considered the point that my design might be largely unusable, but I do consulting in another field and now that you mention it, I have to admit that it is absolutely possible.
    – Daniel
    Feb 7, 2019 at 15:59

Do you have a relatively local college or university with a horticulture program? If yes, then you could contact the head of the program, explain what you'd like done, and most likely be able to get an advanced student to review your plan as a real-world experience (the student would probably do a pros/cons analysis for their instructor after you left).

When I was in school, we sometimes consulted like this as a project, although in our case we usually visited the site (as Bamboo said). This could be a project, where you get a consultation (an honorarium for the student(s) involved would be appreciated) and they get to review a real-world situation. Additionally, the student(s), if they visited your yard, could produce their own plans as part of a design course (you wouldn't see these, usually).


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