Landscape Homework 101, Things to do Before Your First Design Meeting

Landscape Homework 101, Things to do Before Your First Design Meeting

Jerry Ward, of  Ward Design Group, puts it like this, “It is very easy for me to place my design DNA into a project, so that it becomes what I like, but may not suit the client. There are many designers in my area whose work I recognize at first glance. We like our clients to do a little homework before our first concept meeting, to really help us get inside their head and give them a landscape that they are going to love.” Here are some things to get out of the way, before that initial consultation.

 A Few of Your Favorite Things

 As a designer, it is very difficult to meet unexpressed expectations. Many homeowners feel that they have no ideas for what they want in their landscape, but typically a little research, a little dreaming, and some images will begin to emerge. Collect a selection of images, either digital, saved into a folder or on a disk on your computer, or clipped from magazines for a helpful place to start. Things like, plants and arrangements you like, and structures and other design elements that really make you feel at home can help a designer know where to start. Have these things ready to show when meeting with your landscaper.

 Project list, flexibly prioritized

Once you get the mental ball rolling, other ideas may follow, that’s okay. You may have very specific elements you want in your landscape and we want to hear those. For instance, a family that entertains a lot may need a deck or other outdoor living space for dining and parties. Make a list of things you want to see, but keep your priorities flexible. As with all construction, the order of things matters. For instance, a recent WDG client wanted a deck and pergola but needed foundation repair and a new retaining wall to stop shifting and prevent erosion first.

Budget, What You Want, What You Can Spend

 Everybody wants paradise on a junkyard budget and we understand. Unfortunately, a landscape is mostly hard costs, like materials and labor, so budget is very important for you to get the most of your resources. Start with an idea of what you want to spend and know where your limits are. It does no good to reinvent paradise in your backyard if it will be someone else’s in six months due to foreclosure. Be realistic, and open to suggestions. Many times a small change in plans can achieve dramatic results for less.

 Things You Hate

 Not everybody loves pine trees, and there may be some things you could go the rest of your life without seeing again. This is your home and we want to honor that. If there are plants or elements of landscaping that make you break out in a rash (literal or metaphorical) please tell us. There are plenty of options to get the look and feel you want without incorporating things you don’t enjoy.

 The Cold Hard Facts, Property Wise

 Finally, do a little homework on your yard. If you have lived here for a while, think back to any problems that have come up regarding your landscape, such as flooding, or erosion. If you know the sewer line is close to where you want your giant wooden pagoda, be sure to mention that. We have experts who can help us locate utility lines and other unseen obstructions, but any traps or workarounds that you know about will aid us in the planning process and may save you time and money in your landscape install.