The Process

he relationship between designer and client is the most important aspect of the process.  We collaborate with a balance of energy, focus and desired outcome to achieve your goals in the design.  We accompany each other on an exciting journey of creativity.  My experience and my clients tell me that when there is mutual desire, passion and camaraderie between the designer and client we achieve the ultimate objectives: joy in the process, visual and sensual stimulation in the garden, functionality in the design and a strong, mutual sense of accomplishment—the satisfaction that “we did this together!” The only way the highest creativity can occur is through our understanding of each other.  We must give each other the space, and time, to create.  A beautiful garden doesn’t happen overnight.  You must be open to the idea of indulging yourself in the time it takes us to create our masterpiece together.

Carefully reflect on the above thoughts, and if this type of relationship with a garden designer sounds right for you, we can begin. 

We begin the process together by discussing your needs during our initial e-mails and/or phone conversations.  If we both feel there is a mutual sense of connection, between us and the services the firm provides, we set up an initial appointment at your home to walk through your yard together.  Hourly fees do begin with this initial meeting.

In preparing for our first meeting, I ask that you consider a few questions.  Please include your significant others in your discussions.  Often, two parties do not come to the table with harmony and in agreement on needs and priorities!  This aspect is important in order for us to proceed efficiently and mutually enjoy the process.

  • What are your needs/desires/priorities within your yard?  What areas are you interested in developing?

  • Also, please have a copy of your survey/plat available, if you have one.  This is usually with your settlement papers.  Please do not enlarge or reduce when copying as these surveys are to scale and we need to measure directly from the copy.

  • Would you like a patio?  Do you need walkways, walls?  Are you thinking about other types of structures/construction? What kinds of materials do you admire?

  • What kinds of plants do you like? Dislike?  Are there any existing plants you’d like to keep or get rid of?

  • Is privacy a concern? How would you like to solve it—plantings?  Fence?

  • Any other concerns—too much sun or shade; noise?  Are deer a problem? 

  • How is the drainage? Soil? Any site problems you are aware of?

  • Think about color for a moment.  Color is a large component of garden design.  Do you have favorite colors or color combinations?  Bright versus pastel?  No flowers at all and just the green of different foliage combinations?

  • Do you need trees removed? Trees planted for shade?

  • Do you need furniture?  Containers?  Garden ornaments?

  • Do you have children? Pets?  Will there need to be play areas?  How about access?  Is anyone in your home handicapped or aged?

  • How about a water feature?

List any other items you feel are important.

Meeting 1.  We’ll meet at your home, walk the yard and discuss your needs as we go.  This is your time to talk; I will listen and make comments.

Preliminary Design.  Next, your yard is measured, and using the survey, if provided, I’ll put everything on paper.  This is your “base plan”.  Over top of this, I’ll lay a piece of tracing paper and begin to conceptualize the plan for your new garden.  I’ll roughly design the hardscapes (patios, walks, etc.), and I’ll site some key plants.  I might just say “azaleas” for one area, “perennials” for another, etc.  This stage is a basic planning stage only.

Meeting 2.  We’ll meet again to go over the preliminary plan and hash it out.  This is my turn to talk, and I’ll ask you for your input.  We’ll talk more about plants in this meeting, too.  Once everyone agrees, it’s on to the final plan.

Final Plan.  The final design is just about ready to blueprint—you’ll see specific plant recommendations and I’ll show you photos of the recommended plant material.  Once again, when we agree, I’ll make the last changes and the plan is ready for blueprint.  

At this stage, the designing is complete. The next phase is the estimating stage. The firm sub-contracts the landscape installation only through reputable, talented craftsmen whose work I know well.  To provide the highest level of quality and involvement, I manage the entire process. References are available.

Once we come to an agreement on the work you’d like to do, I will contract the work with you and prepare to begin.

Grading and hardscaping.  This is the construction work of the project, and it always happens first. Major drainage goes in at this stage, too, and any preparations for lighting or other electrical items.

Plantings.  After the hardscaping, the plantings go in.  This is the icing on the cake.  Lawns go in at this point, too.

Irrigation, lighting, accessories.  These items can be installed at any time after the hardscaping and plantings are complete.

Maintenance.  For gardens I have designed and installed, exclusively, I can provide seasonal maintenance.  Maintenance, whichever way you choose to do it, is critical to enhance your investment.