How do you get from here....
So, how does this work? How do you use a landscape designer?
A landscape design should communicate how the project should look when finished. A landscape architect prepares thorough plans, including all specifications such as footing depths, grading, erosion control, patio thickness, retaining wall construction, etc. I'm a landscape designer and I'm here for the pretty stuff and leave the nuts and bolts to a licensed contractor or a savvy DIYer. A landscape designer is typically less expensive than a landscape architect due to the difference in education and licensing requirements.
Here's how I work...
Let's say you need a new landscape. You've spoken with a couple of contractors and they ask you if you have a design drawn up. You say 'no'. They'll want a plan in order to quote an estimate for your project. They may not even come out to your site until you have a design. So off you go, hunting down a landscape designer on Google, or maybe they'll give you a name to call.
The second design draft should be pretty tight at this time. We review the updated draft and discuss what we see. Maybe you've changed your mind on something, or you've since discovered something that you want added. Now's the time. We review final plant material selections. We make our final decisions and I proceed to the final phase of the design - the blueprint.
You call me (awesome first move). We discuss your project. Where's your home? Is the scope of the project the front yard, back yard, or both? How big is the project? How will you use the new space? Do you want a pool, pergola, outdoor kitchen, hot tub, a place for the kids, a place for the dogs? Do you need to block the view of your neighbor's school bus parked in his front yard? (speaking from personal experience). The answers to these types of questions helps me determine how much time we will need at the initial consulation. We'll schedule an appointment to meet, walk the property and discuss the project. We'll discuss my fee, what the design process looks like, and time frame for completion of the design. It's also the time to determine if we'll be a good fit. I book my consultations in such a way that if you like me and I like you, I can start at that moment. The initial consultation is free.
Depending on the size of the project, it typically takes me about an hour on-site. I'll take time to measure, photograph, think my thoughts, and get an idea of how to proceed with the design. We'll agree to meet, typically via Zoom, at a specified date/time and I'll share the design concept with you.
The design concept meeting is an opportunity for me to share with you what I heard in our initial conversation. We'll look at a preliminary drawing and I'll go over each aspect such as elements, design flow, function, and materials. I provide visuals so we can be on the same page (it's tricky getting into someone's head). At this time it's your turn to tell me how much you love it, or not. Don't see something in the draft you wanted or see something you want removed? This is the time. We'll discuss some preliminary plant material selections. We continue the conversation until you're satisfied I'm going the right direction. We schedule another meeting for another day.
The final draft of the design communicates the layout, planting plan, pictures of plant material, how many of each plant and what size they are to be. There are pictures of retaining wall styles, fence styles, fountains, etc., whatever elements are included in the design. It is drawn to scale so a contractor can accurately estimate material costs.
Ta-da!! It's done! The final drawing is forwarded to you via email. The attachment can then be forwarded to your contractor, and you can upload it to the Office Depot website and have it printed for about $6.00. Now that wasn't so hard, was it? Something to keep in mind: No design is set in stone. It's likely you and your contractor will make changes depending on a variety of issues, such as stone color and availability, plant availability, moving the patio over, lowering the height of the pergola; anything can happen. The design is dynamic.
And now the nitty-gritty. As previously mentioned, my initial consultation is free. My minimum design fee for one yard starts at $1,000 and goes from there depending on complexity of design. Additional yards (back vs front) increase the fee, though typically at a reduced rate if designed at the same time. Fees are payable in full, upfront. If the fee exceeds $3,000, 50% is due upfront, the balance due before final drafting begins. If you want a video of the concept design, this fee begins at $500 and goes from there depending on complexity of design. This is in addition to any drawings. Click sample video here:
If you only need a consultation and no drawings, such as plant selection and placement advice, my fee is $85/hr, three hour minimum. We can go to Green Acres Nursery and look around and discuss options, or if that's mind-numbing to you (no shame), I can select the plants I feel are most appropriate for your project. Selling your home? I can help with curb appeal too.
So, how do you know you're hiring the right designer for your project? How do you feel with the designer? Are you comfortable? Do you feel you're being heard? Does the designer give reasonable feedback based on the information you're sharing with them? Does the designer ask good questions? Is the designer thoughtful, or do they shoot from the hip? You know when you know. Call more than one designer. If you need more time to think about it, take it. They can always come back.
I always encourage my clients to be involved. See something on Pinterest or Houzz? Send it to me. Take a picture of something you like as you're driving around or walking the dog and send it to me. This is a creative and collaborative undertaking. It's your landscape.