Landscape consultants can work with private homeowners, architects and commercial building contractors to present plans for exterior design and placement of trees, lawns and plants. The field of landscape consulting is growing as builders and homeowners realize the costs associated with outdoor landscaping and look for ways to maximize their investment. Property values and leasing objectives often rely on a well-planned and attractive landscape.
Get a degree in landscape architecture to provide clients with the credentials they look for when hiring a landscaping consultant. While a degree is not a requirement to start a business as a consultant, the credentials and state registration will set you apart from the competition. Large government and commercial contractors expect to see the four-year degree present in their consultants' portfolios.
Take the Landscape Architect Registration Exam through the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards, a national nonprofit organization that provides the tests leading to the certification. Check with your professional licensing agency to find out where to register with your state.
Develop a business plan and marketing materials. Consider taking jobs at reduced fees initially while you build a portfolio of work.
Join an association, such as the American Society of Landscape Architects, hat provides networking opportunities with others in the industry and that provides referral services for members. Attend meetings and seminars to keep up with the latest advancements in the industry and participate in trade shows sponsored by the trade group to showcase your business and attract potential customers.
Build relationships with local architects and developers to land opportunities for bidding on contracts early in the building process. Look for contractors with whom you can partner to offer you services as a package.
Look for requests for proposals (RFP) in state and municipal agencies that do construction in your area.
Network with housing developers, realtors and garden center professionals to build a customer base of private homeowners. A landscaping consultant is typically brought in prior to the completion of a new housing development, but homeowners often seek out the services of a consultant to help them remodel and reconstruct their current landscape.
Consider the quality and style of the partners you choose in the construction industry. For example, if you specialize in creating environmentally sensitive landscapes, you'll want to look for builders with common goals.
Invest in landscape design software, which can help to reduce time spent in planning and the costs of reproducing plans for clients to view.
Learn to take soil tests and make the right kinds of recommendations for various environments so that your finished projects will last through the seasons and serve as models for future business.