This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in the world of landscape design, and it can be a difficult one to answer. The answer to this question will depend on a number of factors, including your level of expertise and experience, how much time you have to devote to the project, your ability to perform ongoing maintenance, and the price and availability of professional landscape contractors in your part of the country.
One of the most important things to consider, of course, is your own natural talent when it comes to gardening and landscaping. Some gardeners seem able to make even the desert bloom, while others seem to kill every plant they touch. If your talents run elsewhere, you may want to consider hiring a professional to whip your lawn and garden into shape, but if you have a talent for gardening, creating a stunning landscape can be a fun and interesting project.
Whether you plan to go it alone or hire a professional, it is important to have a picture in your head of what the finished landscape should look like. Whether you are looking for a formal English style garden, an Oriental garden, an informal garden or just a quiet place to relax, having a design in mind will make the project a great deal easier.
After you have this picture in your head, it is a good idea to sketch it out on paper, or use a landscape design software package to create a picture of the finished project. The sketch should include both existing elements, such as trees and bushes, as well as any new elements you plan to introduce.
When deciding whether or not to bring in a professional, it is important to consider how much time you have to devote to the project, and how much you will enjoy spending long hours working in the yard. If the thought of working on the landscape is appealing to you, by all means consider tackling the project yourself. If, on the other hand, you have little time to devote to the project, you may want to consider having a professional do the work.
If you do decide to hire a landscaping firm, be sure to get an estimate, in terms of both cost and time. The design sketch you created will be a big help when it comes to creating an accurate time and cost estimate, so be sure to bring it to your meeting with the landscape design firm.
At the same time, it is important to think about the ongoing maintenance that the new landscape will require. It is a good idea, of course, to design the landscape in such a way that maintenance will be minimized, but no doubt some work will be required to keep the area looking its best. If you hire a landscape design firm, it may be possible to include maintenance costs in the estimate, but be sure to ask about what is and is not included in any quote you receive.