Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I work with a landscape designer?

Just as you would work with other professionals in other fields to do specific projects, such as an architect to design your house or an accountant to work on your taxes, you should work with a landscape designer to plan your outdoor environment. A professional landscape designer is educated and trained in the field of environmental design, and continuously updates their knowledge with new information. They understand scale and perspective, elevations and drainage, building materials and methods, and plant biology. All of these are taken into consideration when designing a landscape.

2. What is the difference between a landscape designer, landscape architect and a landscape contractor?

Landscape designers typically are educated and trained in landscape design and horticulture. Some designers get additional accreditations through professional associations to expand their knowledge and networks. Some designers may only provide design services, while others work closely with contractors during the landscape installation. They produce conceptual designs and landscape plans, and provide material selections. For scopes of work that go beyond the expertise of a landscape designer, they will call upon other design and construction professionals for advice and/or assistance. Most landscape designers specialize in residential design, but can provide services for both residential and commercial clients.

Landscape architects have an undergraduate or graduate degree in landscape architecture from an accredited school. Only those who have received a state license are allowed to call themselves landscape architects. Landscape architects provide all of the same services as a landscape designer, but they are also qualified to provide all construction documentation for residential, commercial, and institutional projects.

Landscape contractors provide landscape services, such as lawn and garden maintenance, landscape installation, irrigation, masonry, carpentry, etc. Some landscape contractors also provide landscape designs, although their design process may not be as extensive as a typical landscape designer. Some may provide you with drawings for review and approval, while others will just give you a verbal description with a cost for installation.

3. What are the benefits of a professionally landscaped home?

A professionally landscaped home provides organization within the landscape. There are pathways for walking, spaces for specific uses, focal points for viewing, and buffers for deterring or hiding. There are both functional and artistic elements that work together to provide seasonal interest and usefulness. You will also notice that the specific plants used are well thought-out and deliberate, taking in consideration the surrounding environmental factors.

4. What steps are involved in the landscape design process?

Our design process has been established to keep our clients involved throughout all the phases of development, so in the end, the completed design will reflect your style and personality. We invite you to read through our design process more indepth:

5. How much do you charge to create a design?

Our design fees are charged on an hourly basis, with the total cost dependent on the scope of your project. The total cost also depends on the amount of modifications necessary as the design evolves. Design fees generally range from 8-12% of the completed project cost. When you contact us, we will set up an on-site meeting with you to review your project. After our meeting, we will send you a written proposal for our design services. Payment consists of an upfront retainer that is due upon acceptance of our proposal, followed by progress payments that are due upon receipt of our invoices. These are typically issued after meetings and/or delivery of drawings.

6. How long does it take to complete the landscape design process?

The typical timeframe of the design process is 6-12 weeks and depends on the complexity of the project, our work schedule, and your availability, as well as, your decision-making abilities. If your project must seek approval and/or permitting from city or town planning and building departments, additional time must be accounted for submittals of applications and meetings.

7. How far in advance should I begin planning my landscape?

Ideally, you should start planning your project 6-12 months before you want your landscape to be completely installed and ready for use or if you are building/remodeling your home, you should contact us during the planning stages. This sounds like a lot of time, but you should allow adequate time for the design process, material selection, contractor selection and estimating, obtaining approval and/or permits from city or town planning and building departments, scheduling, and the actual installation process.

8. What happens when the design is finished and ready to be installed?

Once the design is completed and the construction documents and specifications are finalized, we will assist you in transitioning your project from the design phase to the construction phase. We have developed working relationships with the most talented group of landscape contractors, architects, engineers, builders, arborists, building material suppliers and specialty nurseries/plant sources. Our project management services include managing and coordinating all of the site development work including excavation and grading, hardscape installation, planting, lighting, fencing, carpentry and installation of any water features or sculptures. It also involves conducting site meetings, the timely coordination of selecting, ordering and scheduling the delivery of project materials, and managing every aspect of the project so that the design is fully understood and properly executed on budget. These services are charged on an hourly basis or a fixed % of construction cost.

9. Once the design is completed, how long will it take to complete the installation of my garden?

Once the landscape design is finished, it could take up to several weeks or several months to completely install your project. Several factors can affect the timeframe of completing your project. These include the complexity of your design and the amount of trades that are involved in the project (i.e. swimming pools, carpentry, etc.), the work schedules of the contractors/tradesmen involved and when they can begin work, your decision-making abilities during the project, how long the contractor(s) estimates the job will take once they commence work, and the weather conditions.

10. What happens after the garden is installed?

After the garden is installed, a watering and maintenance program will be discussed. Even if the designed landscape is intended to be “low maintenance,” all of the newly installed plants need to be hand-watered until they are well established. A plant will be well established when its roots grow beyond the initial rootball zone to obtain moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil. This could take a few months and with trees or larger plants, this could take a lot longer.

Installed irrigation could make the process less labor intensive, but you still need to walk around and observe the plants and the moisture content of the soil surrounding the plants. Excessive watering and insufficient watering can both kill a plant. If water from the irrigation system is not reaching a specific plant or area, then you will need to hand water that plant. Similarly, if you notice that the moisture in the soil around a plant is completely saturated, we may need to adjust the irrigation system or your own watering methods. We can help you through this process, make suggestions or set up an arrangement with the landscape contractor or garden maintenance person.

Gardens are living and ever-changing. We encourage you to stay in touch even after your landscape installation is complete. If questions arise or adjustments need to be made as the garden matures, we are available for any follow-up consultations or design work. With your permission, we also like to visit periodically to photograph the garden and make observations.

Thank you for reading through our frequently asked questions! Please contact us to set up a meeting and review your project.


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