Designing a new garden or updating an existing one can be difficult and stressful. Researching plants, designs, materials, companies, and other gardens can be a timely task and still leave you without answers. Designing your own garden can certainly be easier on the budget, but hiring a landscape designer could and most likely save you money in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes. Wether you’re just wanting general ideas to implement a garden yourself or desire someone to create a detailed design for you, hiring a landscape designer will pay for itself. So why hire a landscape designer and what is the process of working with one?
Surveying the site is an important first step for the landscape designer to assess details on the site. During a consultation, a landscape designer should also point out any issues around the site such as invasive plants, plant health, and drainage issues on the site. A landscape designer also notes the character of the site such as where sun and shade fall, the property’s style, existing features such as views, and to learn more about what you like. A good designer will look at the needs of the site and connect this with your wants of the garden.
This homeowner was tired of the half dead boxwoods and roses that was the home’s foundation plantings. She desired an updated look that included reds, yellows, and oranges and that would have interest all year long.
How Should I Prepare?
It’s a good idea for the client beforehand to have a list of needs, wants, wishes, and their budget. Having some images of landscapes you like is an added bonus. Before a consultation, I often send the client a short questionnaire to help them begin thinking about their site and so I learn more about their intentions for the landscape. It’s important to find a designer that is going to design something especially for you, tailoring the design instead of just being generic. Do your research and see if the designer has any social media sites that displays their work, style, and personality.
What Is the Process?
Landscape designers all have different methods of working. During the consultation and site visit, I snap some photos and take notes. I interview the clients just as much as they interview me to really learn about the vision they have. Back in the office, these notes help me marinate design ideas to come up with some rough sketches and outlines. At this stage I also put together a quote for the design work with a description. If a client just wished for general ideas for their site as a do-it-yourselfer, I write a description of ideas and issues we addressed during the consultation along with any sources related to what we spoke about. This really helps the client get on track and gives them a beginning point.
If the client wishes to hire me for a design, I then put together a preliminary design with plant choices. I then discuss in person with the client these design ideas where they can point out any ‘do not likes’ and we can tweak the design. A final design is then created with detailed plans, representational sketches, and a plant list.
This preliminary design sketch helped the homeowner envision a Monarch Waystation that also had two rain gardens and a seating area.
“There are a lot of generic landscape designers out there, but a really good one is going to listen to the site and pick plants that will work there.” says landscape designer, Steven Hamilton. “A good designer is going to put a lot of hours in to deliver something special- and that works.”
How does a landscape designer save me money?
A landscape designer can save you money in the long run by helping you avoid costly mistakes. It’s important to pick plants for the right spot, whether this means knowing a plant’s requirements to thrive and stay healthy, its growth habit, its spread, maintenance, and whether it’s in general a good or bad plant to use in the landscape. Choosing the wrong plant can mean replacing it or removing it, which can end up being costly and worry on your mind. A landscape designer will also know techniques to keep your garden healthy and the best materials to use for the cost.
I also offer consultations to help do-it-yourselfers learn how to install their plants and materials and I’m available to aid in plant placement before installation. Knowing how to properly install plants is key for their health which may also save you money by preventing disease and their decline. This is especially true for trees, which can be costly to purchase and a time investment.
This spirea shrub had become quite unattractive over a few short years and was sending thousands of seedlings out into the landscape. It was replaced with a dogwood that was mulched and staked well to ensure its establishment as a young tree.