As we contract landscape work, it always starts with design. It may be residential or commercial but we need a plan for many reasons.
First comes the on-site meeting with the owner. This is where we both have questions and answers and this is what the design should be about. This will allow the end result to be about both the discussion and plan also.
The multitudes will want color, budget, and low maintenance – these are no-brainers. Nobody calls and says, “I want a boring landscape that will take all my time working in it and I don’t care what it costs.” That conversation just doesn’t happen.
I’ve been doing this 35 years and I have several degrees in this horticulture/ design area . With a wholesale nursery with hundreds of options and the ability to get whatever I don’t have, I still feel the need to ask numerous questions before I design.
It doesn’t matter what I like or know, if it doesn’t please you. You’re living with it and paying for it – it needs to please you. Quite often, the owner will say something like, “Get out your crayons and do your magic.” Well, I’ll do that, after I ask some questions.
You called me and it may have been for numerous reasons. You may want a total make-over or you may want a few out and a few in. You may want specific color in specific places. You may want plants that are wildlife food or fragrant. We will need to know budget.
When I step on your property, I’m assuming your thoughts and priorities are driven by budget, color, 4 seasons, and low maintenance. Everything else stems from question and answer. Later isn’t the time to wish we had discussed all this.
You may have thoughts of formal or informal, theme or unique to your site. You may want to view this from inside or outside. The thoughts may go from peonies to pavers or from zagnut to walnut.
We’re just walkin’ and talkin’ here. We may get into water feature or lighting possibilities. Who knows?
Now is the time to see the big picture – both on site and on paper. This “master plan” design will make us both aware of possibilities and pricing. Then we both know how to proceed. This overall “Big Picture” thinking with a master plan will allow none or all to be done but it usually results in doing the project in phases. This is easy on budget and it allows time to see how it’s going.
As we walk the property, I will try to see it from several directions. It’s like, “Give us the power to see ourselves as others see us.” – Burns – Ode to a Louse. I’m trying to see the site as we see it and as others see it. At this point, I’m establishing landmarks, boundaries and focal points.
This is about the time that I start sketching areas and functions. These parts of the plan are now jockeying for position in priority and line of sight in my mind. Their priority and location will determine where their part is in making it “flow.”
In the grand scheme of things, a landscaper will sell you a bunch of bushes and a landscape designer will ponder many, many possibilities and considerations, before plants are discussed. Function and aesthetics must come together to make a good plan. The deeper you dig into what you have and could have, the more input you have in determining what you get.
Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.