You have been dreaming of a lovely garden or landscape where you can sit and relax, or just enjoy viewing it from the kitchen window. You may have already gathered Pinterest pictures, or met with a few landscape contractors. But how do you get from the vision to creating the actual place? The first step is to put together a design .
Most landscape contractors offer design services, employing designers and landscape architects. Landscape architects have more education than landscape designers, and are licensed by the State. Be sure to look at pictures of their past projects, and the type of drawings and plans they produce to make sure you are compatible working together.
It takes time to create a custom design. The client and designer need to develop a synergy, or back and forth exchange of ideas, that allow the design to develop organically. The designer cannot read your mind. You need to communicate your vision for your project through words and pictures, as well as sharing some idea of what you want to spend. You will have practical concerns such as solving drainage problems, decreasing the amount of maintenance, removing grass that will not grow despite your repeated efforts to replace it, etc. You can provide a checklist of all the elements you would like in your plan, such as fencing, patios, seating walls, playset, water feature, lighting, and so on. A list of plants you like and don’t like is also useful.
A landscape architect is a generalist, skilled at choreographing a menu of landscape elements and fitting all of the pieces together. We have knowledge about many specialities, and should be able to communicate and coordinate with skilled tradespeople, general labor, equipment operators, plant and product suppliers, and anyone else needed to build your project. We know when to hire additional professional expertise such as engineers, arborists, and permit facilitators. on. The goal is to think ahead, and plan for everything you will need and want, even if the work will be phased over a few years. Planning ahead will eliminate both surprises and proceeding with the work in the wrong order. For example, building a patio too high or too low can cause the entire yard to need regrading.
The truth is, many potential clients call me after they have already spent time and money on their property with unhappy results. This is usually a result of the project not being communicated through detailed plans or 3-D depictions. A verbal or written description is usually not enough. They may have been rushed into proceeding with the work, and not been given the time to explore several possibilities and alternatives.
After installing several thousand landscape projects, I can assure you that although there are many “happy accidents”, the property owners with the right plan will end up with a project that creates happiness far more often than a property where projects have been done piecemeal.
In the end, you will end up with a finished project, an environment that you enjoy.
Marta Scherer Garland, reg. Landscape Architect, Georgia Lic# LA000664