We Can Help

Are you a homeowner that needs help sprucing up the curb appeal of your home or planning an entire outdoor oasis for your backyard?  Or maybe you want to go native or incorporate edibles in your landscape.  We can help!  Feel free to give us a call to discuss your project. We look forward to hearing from you.

residential backyard landscape design upscale with pool, hot tub, firepits, decks and multi level patio in west St. Louis count.

Advantages of an Independent Designer

What are the advantages of working with an independent Landscape Designer like Acorn to create a landscape plan versus having the landscape plans done (and sometimes pitched as free) by the company that will install the design?  Well, that’s a great question.  Here are the advantages:

First, and most importantly, we create plans only, we don’t do the installation.  We create the plans for you based on your needs, period. That means that your design is not based on what someone wants to sell you or how much profit they can make off the installation.  This means you know you are getting an unbiased design that uniquely suits your family’s needs.

modern urban backyard design by acorn landscapes st louis

Second, having a plan not tied to installation gives you several additional advantages:

  • You can do some of the work yourself (installation companies don’t give you a plan for work they aren’t doing)
  • You can phase the work over time knowing you are working towards a cohesive design (again, it’s not likely to get an installation contractor to take the time to do a master plan if they are only going to install part of it now)
  • It gives you the opportunity to get competitive bids from installation contractors that are comparing apples to apples.  You know they are bidding for the same things and not on different ideas of what they ‘think’ you want done.


How to choose between a Landscape Architect and a Design/Build Installation Contractor

So how do you know if paying for a plan from a landscape architect is the right decision since, for many projects, a design/build installation contractor might ‘throw in the design for free’.   (they actually roll the cost for the planning into the fee on the installation but you don’t see it as a line item)

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want a master plan you can phase over time?  That favors Acorn Landscapes and an independent design, whether your project is big or small.
  • Do you want to do some of the work yourself or project manage it yourself?  That also favors Acorn Landscapes and an independent design, whether your project is big or small.
  • Is your project new house construction and you need a landscape plan stamped by a licensed landscape architect to get your City permits? That definitely favors Acorn Landscapes and an independent landscape architectural design.
  • Or maybe you want someone with specialized knowledge of permaculture, a gardener’s garden or native/ecological design.  Again, not something the design build firms typically specialize in, but we do.
  • Maybe you want to talk to a designer and not an installation salesperson.  Call us and you’ll speak directly to our Landscape Architect, Mary Deweese.  She isn’t trying to upsell you to a larger pool, she’s here to take knowledge from over 2 decades of design experience to get you on the right track for you and your project, and that’s true whether that means going with us or going with a design/build firm.

So if none of the previous points apply to you my next question would be…How big is your budget?  The larger the project, generally, the more sense it makes to use a Landscape Architect from a purely financial standpoint.  For many of our projects, our fee ends up being less than the difference in price between the lowest and highest installation bid.  The cutoff varies but usually if the installation cost will be at least 10-12K then you still come out ahead financially by using an independent landscape architect

Is there anything else that might influence your decision between Acorn Landscapes independent design planning and a design build installation contractor you ask?  Well that’s very project specific and we’d be happy to talk to you if you call us, about your specific needs to help you make an informed decision, but yes, There are some projects, and some circumstances for which the advantage leans to design/build.

Our goal is for you to get the right fit for your needs, so there are times when I recommend a client go the design/build route entirely.   It’s very project specific, but in most instances there are advantages to working out a master concept plan with an independent designer such as Acorn Landscapes..

Backyard landscape design by landscape architect Acorn Landscapes in St. Louis Missouri that includes hillside meadow garden and shade garden for wildlife habitat


Do you ever work WITH design/build firms?

Yes,  Acorn Landscapes routinely works along side installation contractors and design/build firms. We often are asked to do the initial concept designs with a client, taking the time to look at multiple schemes and revising the concept with a personalized design process, and then handing over the master plan concept to a design build firm chosen by the client to finalize the construction details and project manage the installation. We work alongside installation contractors routinely on commercial and residential design teams (we also routinely work with architects, surveyors and civil engineers).  I’d say that there is less direct competition between us and more of a complimentary skillset.  Design/build firms largely focus on the installation, and we focus on the ideas and planning.

Feel free to call and discuss your project, talk about the design process and get some information on how we price our plans.

Just click this link to go to our Contact Us page for our phone number and email contact form.

Acorn Landscapes design service st louis banner21