The answer to the first part of this question depends on 1) your budget—landscapers cost money 2) your pool company’s and your ability and willingness to divide up the work that a landscaper might otherwise do and 3) how intricate, and expensive, your project is.
Let’s take a couple easy examples.
IF ONLY BASIC LANDSCAPING NEEDED. You have a pool and deck design that looks great. Either you created it or your pool builder created it. You want to get the pool in, do some basic landscaping yourself and call it a day for now. Obviously, there is probably no reason to hire a landscaper here. There is money to be saved and little to be gained by adding another contractor.
BUT IF LANDSCAPING IS MORE INTRICATE. Here’s another easy example. You have a fairly intricate project and are interested in some hardscape accents, a pergola, some seating walls and a fire pit. You intend to spend another $10-15,000 on plantings. It is obviously best to get a good landscape design professional involved from the beginning.
GETTING THE BEST DESIGN. Some pool companies don’t like to admit their design limitations but we are generally not landscape architects. A good pool builder does understand the basics of design, drainage, and understands his medium, and I have personally been the primary designer 100s of times. However, if you intend to incorporate expensive features into your design that the pool builder will have nothing to do with, and spend a sizable budget on landscaping, why not get a professional landscape designer involved in the initial stages who understands all the elements including plants, trees, stone and other hardscapes.
I have repeatedly seen good landscape professionals come up with all sorts of great ideas and designs that the pool builder might not have thought of. Expertise and creativity always matter. Hire a landscaper with a good design ability and the ability to implement his design (two separate things).
WIN WIN SITUATION. Many pool builders look at recommending landscapers as a way to “add value” to what they do. A good recommendation might save you money. Ask your pool builder how confident he is in his recommendation, how expensive they are, whether he gets any compensation out of his relationship with his recommendation and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the recommendation. Of course, it never hurts to get another quote from someone else you trust. But there is an opportunity here for a win-win situation: the pool company gets the job and gets a landscaper he likes to work with and the homeowner gets a landscaper at a highly competitive price, who is looking for repeat business, and who knows pools.
INTRICATE PROJECTS. An intricate project will sometimes require the landscape contractor to take the lead when the pool is a small part of the project. The landscape contractor will coordinate the various subs with the pool guy just being one of them. In less intricate projects, the pool is often the first thing to be built so maybe everyone meets on the day of the dig, agrees on placement and elevation, and the pool guy does his part and then turns the project over to the landscaper who finishes up (with everyone keeping each other informed of course!).
So as you can see, I have a lot of respect for good landscape designers. They can add a lot of value to your project. We at Perma Pools have worked with many landscapers, many good and many bad. Of course, we do have a handful that we recommend again and again for their ability to add meaningful value.