What is Landscape Design?

landscape and garden designIf you regularly subscribe to home and gardening publications, or peruse the internet looking at impressive landscape ideas, you might have come across the term “landscape design” and words associated with it to describe people who specialize in that field. These experts are referred to as “landscape architects”, “landscape designers”, or sometimes “landscape consultants”. Wikipedia, the online source most people frequent these days, defines landscape design as “an independent profession and a design and art tradition, practiced by landscape designers, combining nature and culture. In contemporary practice landscape design bridges between landscape architecture and garden design.”

What can a landscape designer do for me?

The short answer is that a good landscape designer has the tough task of enabling you to showcase your property year round, something that requires expertise in a cold-weather state with four distinct seasons. If you consult with a skilled landscape designer in Monmouth County, he or she will work with you to apply concepts learned through years of experience and hard work to add intrigue and interest to your property all year round. The landscape design of your home will be the talk of the neighborhood, from the opening of the buds on those delicate but beautiful ornamental trees, through the blazing glory of Fall, and even those many months that your property is blanketed in snow and ice. A nicely landscaped home, with amenities like driveways, walkways or patios made of paver bricks, will boost your home’s appeal and be attractive to potential buyers should you sell your home down the road.

Can I do it myself?

If you are looking to add some simple enhancements to your property to merely revitalize your landscaping, you might want to consult with a professional landscaper, who could give you a free estimate of what he or she thinks the cost of the work would be.

But, if you are looking for a large renovation or revamping of your property, then you should consider hiring a professional landscape designer. Depending on the size of your property, or the landscape designer you choose, consultations for evaluating the work to be done might range from an hourly fee to a flat fee. Likewise, the landscape designer, whether an individual proprietor or a large company, might allow the consultation fee to be applied later toward the entire cost of the project. Similarly, again – dependent on your choice of designer, that person or company may render a simple sketch or an electronic blueprint of the project at hand. More on that below.

Bear in mind that an extensive landscape renovation project is not for the DIYer. Some of the reasons why you should consider consulting with, and then hiring, a professional landscape designer is that you might look at the finished product as merely adding aesthetic appeal to your property, while a skilled landscape designer takes many factors into consideration even before rendering his diagram. Some factors would include the property’s soil conditions, drainage and slope. The maintenance involved after the project’s completion is important as well – how much time would you be willing to invest in the upkeep, especially in the case of extensive landscape renovation? Will there be maintenance or repair of waterscape or lighting features in the future, and will be they be cost-prohibitive? You might have no way of knowing the answer to these last two questions, but a landscape designer will be able to tell you. A professional landscape designer can instruct you on what trees, bushes, shrubs and plants are best suited for your region based on how much sun or shade your yard receives. A good landscape designer is familiar with the go-to spots where local stones and other masonry items may be obtained to create a look inherent to the region in which you live; these might be stores that sell only to landscape companies. Today’s landscape design consultant must keep up with current products and trending ideas and concepts so that he is well versed in a myriad of options to offer you, the consumer.

Even if you do not retain a professional landscape designer to complete the project, at least you will have benefited from an expert’s ideas, based on years of experience. If you decide to turn this into a DIY project, please remember that you may still need to hire licensed contractors, for any wiring, lighting or extensive waterscape features you plan to integrate into your finished project.

Let’s get started

There are really only two phases involved after you schedule an appointment with a local landscape designer. Renovating your back or front yard is not just a matter of removing bedraggled-looking trees, bushes or plants that have seen better days, or simply re-sodding a lawn that is now resplendent in weeds, with a smattering of sparse grass. Landscape designers evaluate your existing Hardscape and decide how to integrate any existing softscape before they even begin to prepare a landscape design plan for your property. The Hardscape evaluation will come first – if your driveway or walkways, or maybe even a wall or a gate, is serviceable and not dilapidated in any shape or form, and would thus serve to enhance any future landscaping plans, then those items will be integrated into your new landscape design. Any softscape items, such as beautifully maintained garden beds, wonderful old trees or even the ivy which has climbed up the side of house for eons, will likewise be evaluated for inclusion into the “master plan”.

Phase I – Preparing designs

Though a skilled landscape designer might get a concept in his or her head based upon many years of landscape design and scores of clients, it is difficult for them to transmit that visual, other than a quick sketch, to their prospective customer. Now, contemporary landscape designers often utilize landscape software so that they take the data such as your property’s dimensions, coupled with existing Hardscape and softscape features, along with their ideas, and they have the ability to plug that data into their computer and spin out a preliminary landscape design for your consideration. During the design stage of your property enhancement, many tweaks to the original design might be done to get to the finished virtual project before the actual installation will begin.

Phase II – Installation and renovation

Once you and your landscape designer have created a design which you are happy with, the next phase will be the actual installation. Before major renovation takes place, there might be some minor work undertaken to your lawn and garden beds just to provide some benefits to existing property to allow for better integration into the finished product. An example would be aeration. This is a process using engineered footwear wherein a specially controlled base, hooks up with the footwear to create surges which provide drainage holes in your soil and lawn to provide better or adequate drainage. Thereafter, a sprinkler system may be installed so that the water can be professionally directed to provide the just-right amount of water beneficial to the garden or lawn, thus risking saturation of either and the dreaded “wet feet” syndrome, sure to kill the root system of lawns or plants in a heartbeat.

After those enhancements are in place, whatever new Hardscape or softscape features are in the plans will be implemented to achieve the final desired look. Yes, an extensive landscape design project might be a little time consuming, but the finished product will be a design which utilizes your yard’s natural elements, fits your personal needs and preferences and provides aesthetic appeal and enjoyment for many, many years to come.