Landscape/Garden Designer – Hiring

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Q: I’m looking for someone to draw up landscape plans. We’ll probably do the work ourselves, but we really need some professional help.

A: Strictly speaking, if you want a “plan only ” service, it’s illegal for someone other than a Registered Landscape Architect to draw up landscape plans for you to install. Georgia law governing landscape architects defines the practice as “…. consultation, investigation, planning, design, preparation of drawings and specifications….”. Further, the law states “No person shall perform or offer, attempt, or agree to perform any act which would constitute the practice of landscape architecture…”.

An exception is given to landscape contractors, who “…. may not perform design services without also performing the installation of said design…” and to persons “….whose services are offered solely as a gardener or nurseryman…”. Basically, if it is “incidental” to their main business, they can prepare plans.

In effect, if a person is a garden designer, they must work with a contractor to install their designs. You can’t get legally plans from a small designer and install the plants yourself. You can, however, hire a landscape architect to do the plans and guide you on how to proceed. You can find a list of professionals at

NOTE: UGA Horticulture professor David Berle makes the point that “…it is a law that affects the profession, not the homeowner. It is not illegal to pay for landscape design advice, or even a landscape plan for that matter, from a non-registered garden designer. It is illegal for a person to be in the business to sell a plan unless they are a design-build firm or associated with a garden center. The homeowner would not be cited if they paid a non-registered person for a plan. The person selling the plan, would however, be subject to a fine/penalty.”

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