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“You must only do big jobs” and other not-quite-accurate thoughts

At 3 am I came back to bed. I love my dog, but I’m not a huge fan of the refusal to do anything on last outs but a frantic need to do it at 0300. The cool, damp air had gotten me pretty well awake so I pulled out my tablet (I know, bad idea, the backlight suppresses melatonin blahblahblah) and started catching up on some fav blogs. Ivetter Soler, who I think is a great example of how diverse and awesomely weird my industry is, had penned a post for Garden Rant titled Gardening Under the Affluence. It’s worth the read, but a quick and dirty summary would be that so many of the spaces we see in magazines, online (I’m guilty on this very site), and on TV are just unattainable for a lot of folks. As will happen, the wheels started spinning in my head.


Quick story: two years ago I got a call to do a design for a $9 million home. I was stoked – this is what we’re in business for, right? Big projects, big(gish) design fees, ego stroking galore? It sucked. Looking back I realized the home and the site had nothing to do with it, it was the client. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the clients were bad people. But this was a spec house, so they were building this massive edifice with the sole goal of selling it to someone. There was zero excitement on their end for anything we came up with because this wasn’t for them. It was kind of like a model home: it had to have enough personality to look livable, but not so much that a buyer couldn’t imagine themselves there. The clients were not invested in living in the space, because they weren’t going to.


I realize that if you’ve been reading this blog as posts have gone up over the last 5-6 years, you’re seeing something pretty unusual. You’re seeing a business taking shape, seeing me figure out who I can best serve and how I can best accomplish that. In short, you’re getting to see how the sausage is made. “Landscape designer” is actually not as concrete a career path as many others so I’ve gotten to make it up as I go along.

As part of that I’ve gone back and looked at the jobs that have brought me the most joy, and you know what those are? The jobs that have brought my clients the most joy. I may be an artist but creating art isn’t my job. Making my client’s heart sing is my job. How does that tie in with the post title? Because I don’t just do big jobs. Look, I will happily sell you a $60,000 outdoor kitchen all day long. My dog eats expensive food, and so do my cats. But I will also take on a smaller job IF it meets these criteria:

  • You want this job done at least as much as I want to do it.
  • We seem like we’ll get along.
  • You’re willing to sign a design agreement.

That’s it. I’m not here to just design big projects. I’m here to bring awesome to as many folks as I can.





    August 2, 2014 REPLY

    David – we are SO on the same track! Yes to everything you said! And if you want to take a peek at how connected our brains are, you should look at my instagram feed. A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video of a hamster on a wheel, because I was having these thoughts and it was making my world spin! Uncanny.
    And I am THRILLED to be one of the weird parts of this industry! I mean somebody has to fill that role, and I have the wardrobe for it.
    Big hi-5,

      August 4, 2014 REPLY

      I had to track you down on Instagram to like the hamster! Thanks for the kind words 🙂

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