This is a good time to think through your goals and aesthetic preferences. You can start gathering images of places you like on your computer or through sites like Pinterest or Houzz. The more information we have about what you want to see/feel/experience, the better we can design a space you will love. Unlike some designers, who impose a single aesthetic on every client, we want to design a space that will make you happy. Do you love bright-colored flowers? Only white? Traditional design? Modern? Native plants? We can't design it unless we know.
For most of us, budget affects almost every aspect of what can be achieved on site. We don't require a minimum budget and are happy to work with clients to phase work over several years, but budget must be realistic in relation to the goals and scope of work desired. Having a good idea of the budget before design begins allows us to propose buildable options, and we want you to see your project built!
We recommend starting with a plat of your site, which is a drawing that shows property boundaries in relation to your house footprint, and a lot stake-out, which involves surveyors setting stakes at the corners of your lot. While we take detailed measurements and collect elevation data from every site we design, we are not professional surveyors and cannot locate your house precisely in relationship to your property lines. Any work that will require a permit (fences, retaining walls, decks, etc.) will require a plat, so it's best to get one ahead of time. On occasion, clients have discovered their property was larger than they thought! We are happy to recommend professional surveyors we trust. If you are having architectural or other work done (geothermal, septic, well, etc.), we will also need their drawings.
One of the biggest reasons to hire a landscape designer is to provide you with design options you might not have considered. We are experts in diagnosing and fixing awkward and uncomfortable spaces; addressing tricky grade changes; envisioning three-dimensional solutions; solving stormwater problems including ponding, flooding, and erosion; providing shade to hot, sunny expanses; and integrating indoor and outdoor spaces. We also have expert knowledge of plants and plant communities. We strive to add biodiversity, beauty, and habitat to every site we work on. We are practiced in assessing landscapes and can do so quickly. Don't worry if your space feels wrong and you don't know what to do about it, and definitely don't feel embarrassed- we've seen it all!
Hiring us can prevent you from making expensive mistakes. We frequently visit properties where the deck or steps cut off the yard from the house, patios are too long and narrow, and decisions by previous homeowners have led to Frankenstein spaces that don't function well or feel good. Hiring us before undertaking individual projects will allow you to be confident that your space will function as a coherent whole.
While we hope to work with you on your project, here are some reasons why we might not be a good fit: