Necessity of a landscape plan for a bid?
I've perused some old questions on landscape designers and the costs involved. I saw some hostility in those posts, so please forgive the question if it's offensive to LDs.
We have .25 of an acre with house that is unlandscaped. I have paid a LD to come out and give verbal thoughts and I've poured over books for plants in our region. I have a good idea of what I want now. I took our site plan/survey and scanned it on the computer. I split it into the front yard and back yard so it was large enough to read. Then, I used color-coded shapes indicating the approximate spacing of the plants that I want. There's an identifier for each plant. There is a legend with plant names. It's a loosely scaled, bird's eye (flat) view only.
I need estimates for irrigation, fencing, and landscaping (including sod & plantings). I'm having a difficult time finding landscapers to quote the jobs. I need some reference point on what to expect for the money. Each landscaper wants me to pay them anywhere from $300 - $800 for a Landscape Plan in order to give me a bid.
I have some baggage from a previous bad experience when we paid for a landscape plan for two beds. This time around, I wanted to select the landscaper first before paying for a plan. Since budget is a factor, I think I need a bid to finalize my decision. This is the reason that I spent multiple hours putting my thoughts on paper so that I could solicit 3 bids from landscapers based on my drawings alone.
My question -- is it unreasonable to expect a landscaper to provide a sample bid by plants, by sample measurements?
If I knew where to get a crew to dig the holes, help with the bed prep, lay the sod, etc, I wouldn't mind buying the plants and directing them. Then, I'd have to find an irrigation and fencing company. I want a landscaper whose going to adequately prep the beds, show up when promised, and perform the work neatly. I don't need a yard that will win a local prize.
I realize that I could pay for a landscape plan then shop it to the landscapers, but I'm skeptical of that route.