Paying for a thorough landscape analysis before moving forward with a project often saves money - a breakdown of the topics.
This design of a backyard landscape in San Diego's Mission Hills area was the result of an initial landscape consultation with the homeowners.
What’s the difference between a paid landscape design consultation and a free quote with a little professional advice thrown in? Most of my professional colleagues charge a small fee to initially meet with new clients and assess a site, discuss details of its current condition, and give ideas on how to improve the landscape. Why pay a designer when a contractor’s sales person will visit for free? Basically, it is the difference between getting an honest and thorough, not to mention professional, assessment of your landscape, versus hearing the advice of someone wanting to sell you something. Think of this analogy. Most homeonwers have paid a professional financial adviser for their time, and have also gotten free financial advice. Big difference right? In most cases, the paid financial advice was much more helpful and, in the end, much less expensive that the advice given for free. This at least has been true in my experience. The same can be said for paying a design consultant for their time. You’ll get a much more honest and thorough assessment. My last blog post covered the basics of the landscape consultation, Now for the specifics as to what the consultation will cover. Consider this a cheat sheet of sorts. If you have purchased a newly constructed home, then only some of these topics apply, mostly those subjects dealing with discussing ideas and alternatives for the new landscape. And of course every existing yard is unique, each consultation varies in the subjects discussed.
Review of Existing Landscape: What stays and what goes? What zone are we in. Frost and heat possibilities. Exposure issues: Shade, sun, etc. Plants: Identification, care, pests, diseases, cultural Issues. Improving drought tolerance – lawn, etc.
Design Theme: Determine the current theme. What theme best fits the home? Could more than one theme be used? Mixing styles?
Irrigation Overview (visual only): Current quality and life-expectancy of system? Problems with current system. Discuss new types of new systems – valves, heads, clocks -- advantages and disadvantages.
Established and New Plantings: What’s not doing well, what doing too well. Soil overview – amendments & fertilizers. Good plants for foliage and flowering color. Focal plants, background plants. Types of plant palettes. Vegetable and Fruit Tree Gardens. Special needs: allergies, pets, etc.
Timeframe for project: What’s a realistic start date? How long will the project take? Best or worst time of year to begin?
Family Needs: Are there Children? Ages? How about Pets? Number and type? Family Activities: Barbequing, swimming, sports, etc. Family gatherings – how many typically attend? Space required. Social gatherings – how many and for what? Unique needs – age, disabilities, etc.
Hardscape & Softscape Overall percentage of hardscape to softscape. Current & recommended. Advice on amount and adequate space for patios, walkways Structures: patio covers, fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, etc. Material selections – basic alternatives and costs.
Project Budgets: What can you spend – what to realistically expect. Work toward desires or work toward budget? Affordable alternatives. How to reduce costs.
Maintenance: Assessment of current maintenance condition of landscape. How and what to improve? Are the current maintenance crews doing a good job?
Specialty Gardens: Drought tolerant gardens – overview of types. Fruit and vegetable gardens. Color palettes. Dry versus lush palettes Postage stamp landscapes.
Miscellaneous: Privacy screening vs. views. Home Owner’s Assoc. issues. San Diego city and county permit advice Contractor Issues - what to avoid. Landscaping for fire prevention If moving on to a design – what to expect. What the proposal and design will include.
Note: For those wanting to move on to a design, a landscape design proposal will be emailed within one or two days.
This cheat sheet lists some of the subjects that can be addressed. What is discussed changes with each new consultation. Every landscape is unique and therefore every landscape consultation is different. If there is a subject not addressed here you need resolved and want included, feel free to call my San Diego County office at 619-922-9735 to discuss your project.