When Do I Call a Landscape Designer?

I get asked this question (or a variant thereof) a lot. After all, when contemplating a major remodel or new home, I’m needed to put the icing on the cake. Here’s where I fit in.

Remodel/ Renovation

If your remodel is changing the footprint of your home, we can start talking as soon as you have drawings showing where the new walls are going. As an example, yesterday I presented a completed landscape master plan to clients who are expanding their kitchen and adding a portico. The timing has been fantastic, because I got the drawings from their architect showing the new footprint of the house, they dialed in interior selections (cabinets, counters) while I was working on the landscape plan, and we can start getting landscape construction costs as the remodel work begins. This way I knew what I was working to, and the builder and I have an easy understanding of where his work stops and mine begins.

It’s also worth bringing in a landscape designer early on to make the county happy. Last year I worked on a project with Stadler Nurseries for a homeowner building an addition in the McLean/Great Falls area. Because of the size of the addition he had to have a plan for planting dozens of trees and several hundred shrubs. This plan was designed by the engineer, not a landscape designer, and was so boring I feel asleep while reviewing the plan. I fell asleep while laying it out for planting. Just thinking about it now, I feel I miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii – wait, what? Sorry, nodded off.

New Construction

Yesterday, I also met with someone tearing down a home in Great Falls to build a new one (yesterday was an incredibly productive day, apparently). When can I start the design process? As soon as the engineer has decided where the new home sits on the lot and has created a site plan with elevations, I can roll. I just need that and the architectural drawings of the home from the architect and I’m good to go!

The biggest mistake I see people make is calling a landscape designer after construction is 100% completed. Not only does this mean they’re stuck with a mess during the design process and ramp-up to installation, but there may have been some opportunities to better integrate the inside and outside spaces during the build-out. While the home or addition is under construction, a change can be minor. Once paint’s on the walls and the carpet is down, those minor changes become major changes – and they never happen.

No, my neighbors’ Pug Oscar has nothing to do with this post. But he’s awesome and I didn’t have any construction photos.

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