Have you cut out and collected pictures of great landscaping ideas, but now wonder how to actually put them onto your own property? Have you wanted to capture the vision of a stately French mansion on your property in Houston, Texas? Would you like to know whether the plants you’ve admired in European and New England countryside estates will grow on the Texas coastal plains?
If so, you need the services of an experienced residential landscape design professional. A competent landscape designer or landscape architect takes you through the entire design development process, which includes: consultation and program development, analysis of the existing site, conceptual landscaping design, construction documentation and permitting. And then on towards turning the vision in your mind from virtual reality to actual reality.
Landscape design and Analysis of the Site
An essential part of the initial consultation with your landscape designer or landscape architect is a walk around your property. Here is where you get to share your overall vision, detail your wants and needs and desires. It should be a free-flowing discussion about aesthetics, which includes your likes and dislikes of materials, preferences on arrangements-all the “wouldn’t it be nice if…” things you’ve been considering.
Try to be as specific as you can. For example, you may want a deck to seat a party of ten people or a large lawn area on which your three- and five-year-old can play with your Labrador retriever. This detailed information will be brought together by your residential landscape designer or landscape architect to create a program of uses. The program organizes uses by their relationship to one another, much like the inside flow of your home. In fact, the architecture and flow of your home should relate to the architecture and flow of your landscaping. Understanding these relationships and interpreting them well separates the artist-architectural designer from a landscape horticulturalist-contractor.
Residential Landscaping Design
The next step in the design process develops out of the meeting notes, site analysis, program of uses, and the design professional’s experience. At this conceptual level, the landscape designer or landscape architect conveys the overall design intent, such as the general use areas and their sizes, swimming pools and other hardscapes, outdoor kitchens and outdoor fountains, lawn areas, and plantings. This phase will also be the time when it is determined which wish list items are possible on the site and which are not. An overall cost study is developed from the conceptual landscaping design as well.
Moving Forward with you Landscape Design:
Once you have agreed on the overall design intent, sizes of use areas, general material selections and their applications, you are ready to begin the landscaping design development and construction phase. The documentation for this phase can be broken down into three groups: 1) landscaping design drawings for permitting. 2) landscaping design drawings to convey final design intent and material selections for you and the installation contractor 3) landscaping design drawings, called construction documents, with specifications for materials, specifications for their installation and installation methods.
These drawings may be accompanied by a full package of additional drawings to include an existing site survey, tree disposition and elevation plan, tree preservation plan, demolition plan, swimming pool plan, landscape drainage systems, irrigation systems, hardscape plan including outdoor kitchen and outdoor water fountains, landscape planting plan, landscape lighting plan, and construction details for the above plans.
As for permits, each city has its own unique requirements for landscape plan approvals. The norm is a submittal of the entire permitting package to be approved or rejected by a committee board. For this reason, it is important to hire a landscaping company that is fluent in these areas, one who knows what vital information to include, such as lot coverage ratios, engineered drainage plans, pool fencing layout and specifications. It is equally important to omit unnecessary information that could create confusion or send up a red flag that would keep the project from getting approved. A knowledgeable residential landscape designer or landscape architect helps win approval as quickly as possible.
Garden Design and the End Results
Whether your project is a simple landscaping design that only encompasses landscape planting or is a complex construction package, it is vital that you hire a landscape designer or landscape architect that is competent in the skill sets detailed here. For your satisfaction, it is also important to distinguish between off-the-shelf landscaping design and a designer who can reflect your unique style. Always ask to see a portfolio and visit the website to determine if the landscaping company under consideration has the sense of style you appreciate and is one who can design a landscape that complements your home and lifestyle.
Additionally, it is highly recommended that you utilize a landscaping design company that not only does the design work, but also performs project management and landscaping installation. There is a world of difference between someone who has great ideas and another person with great ideas who also knows the availability and best use of local materials, local contractors and their methods of construction, overall cost and budget development, and can then maintain the finished product. In short, you want a landscape designer or landscape architect who can deliver a landscape design solution that flourishes in the Houston climate over the long term.