Is Your Outdoor Classroom Designer/Consultant a Salesperson in Disguise?

If a naturalized outdoor classroom consultant offers you "free" design services, better beware. This must-read article explains why independent consultants are your best bet for getting the right resources for your project.

As more and more centers are joining the ranks of schools with naturalized classrooms, the number of people selling naturalized items has increased. Some vendors who sell natural equipment offer "free" design services. Very few services in life are free, so don't be fooled. The fee for design services is simply added to the cost of the materials you purchase.

We feel that buying equipment, naturalized or otherwise, from the same person who designs your outdoor area sets up a conflict of interest. Do you really think you'll get an honest opinion from consultants about other available resources that may better suit your needs when they or their affiliates stand to gain when you buy their company's items?

White Hutchinson is among the few independent design consultants for outdoor naturalized areas (along with Robin Moore and Rusty Keeler) that doesn't make a commission on the designs we create or from any of the equipment we recommend. Our design team takes pride in being independent and able to give clients unbiased opinions about what might be right for their outdoor projects -- regardless of where the equipment comes from. We can help you balance outdoor space with shade, bushes, plants, and if desired, manufactured equipment.

If you want manufactured equipment in your outdoor space, we work with equipment vendors all across the United States, Canada and Europe to help you find the right design. We gain nothing by suggesting you buy materials or equipment from a certain vendor. Many vendors have offered us referral fees or sales commissions that we flatly have refused. You can read more about our company's philosophy and ethical standards at

So before you choose your designer, ask the right questions. Are you hiring an independent consultant to design your space, or a salesperson? Make sure you're getting an unbiased opinion on what to place in your outdoor space.