You may or may not know the exact details of what you want for your future landscape, but you know you want it to be different than what you have. Whether you want to add a recreation area in your backyard, revitalize your front yard, or just want a nice place to relax, your first meeting with a landscape designer can be the key to realizing your dream outdoor space. After all, this is your space and your dream. Your designer is there to help you realize that dream and make it come true. Below are some tips to make that consultation the best use of your time and to get what you want out of the landscape design experience.
1- All decision-makers need to be at the consultation
Your designer needs to hear all the thoughts and opinions of stakeholders. It also is a great time to build a relationship between you and your designer. If they get to know you and understand you, everything will flow better, and the design will reflect your tastes and interests. This may also save time in the design process if they get the opinions and thoughts of all parties that may be interested in how the space turns out.
2- Think about what you like about your current landscaping, and what you don’t
Maybe you like the blooms in the spring on existing shrubs or the color of the stone on your front steps. Showing precedents of ideal landscapes that match your project objectives, budget, style and likes and dislikes helps to paint a picture of your style and needs. Also, take the time to show them the things you don’t like as well, even the small things. An example may be as small as mulch splashing up on the house when it rains. That can easily be accounted for and remedied during the installation process. The goal is to present problems so your landscape designer can provide appropriate solutions. Don’t be afraid to have your designer walk through your house to get a better understanding of your style.
3- Let the designer know what you will be doing in your landscape and how you want to use it
It is vastly different ta install a pool and patio that two people will be using regularly, and one that needs to accommodate larger groups frequently. Someone who likes to have family and neighbors over every weekend to swim and grill will need space to accommodate them and plenty of seating. Your designer also needs to know if you have pets and how they use the space. Does your dog spend a lot of time in the fenced-in yard, or do you walk them through your neighborhood for exercise? Do you have small children that may like a swing set or trampoline or teenagers that would enjoy a basketball court?
4- Have a budget in mind
And share that budget with your designer. Sharing your budget allows your hired professional to design to your ideal budget. This helps save you money and your designer time. The more parameters and information you provide upfront, the better the initial design concepts will be. Your designer is skilled at knowing how to keep a project within a budget and how to help you navigate hitting all your goals.
5- Be prepared to talk about timeline expectations
At the very first meeting, let the designer know any timelines you may have. Most companies are booked out 6-12 weeks from the date of signing. That does not include time to design and present. That timeline can also change drastically if there are issues with permitting or the supply chain. If you have a hard date that things need to be done by, be transparent about that in that meeting. It may be that the project needs to work in phases or be adjusted temporarily to make it all happen the way you would like. If there’s a pool, expect a 9 month to year-long design process. Municipality requirements are becoming more stringent and submittal/review process takes time that you may not be aware of.
6- Bring information and inspiration
Having the most recent land survey, irrigation maps, and previous design plans can help the designer if you have them. You should also consider gathering inspiration photos of your ideal landscape aesthetic to have on hand at your first meeting. This can be as simple as walking through your favorite neighborhood and snapping a few photos of landscapes that resonate with you. Use technology to your advantage to help you convey what you like. Pinterest is a great online resource for gathering inspiration photos. You may not know the scientific names of plants or specific types of stone, but showing a few photos can help identify what you like and convey your vision of a dream outdoor space.