How to Think and Grow Like a Landscape Designer

Even if you’re not a certified landscape designer, you can think like one and create gorgeous outdoor spaces that grow more successfully. Follow these key steps to greater success: Start with a clear idea or goal, build a workable budget, do your research, and plan ahead.

landscape designer

Think like a landscape designer and you can create pleasing outdoor spaces that grow well. Photo credit: Dan Nelson, Designs Northwest Architect

Jarod Hynson, president of landscaping company Earth, Turf & Wood Inc., has seen it all, from small urban patios to outdoor kitchens to stunning projects that rival the most extravagant public spaces. No matter how big or small the project, Hynson says the most important thing is to have a 3-to-5 year master plan.

Keep in mind the age-old wisdom of gardening: first it sleeps, then it creeps, then it leaps. Your plan will mature into your grand vision!

Landscape Designer Tip #1: Start With a Clear Goal in Mind

Hynson suggests asking yourself, what is going to make us wanna walk out there? Thorough research is a must. Collect photos of what you like and even what you don’t like. Sometimes it’s easier to say what won’t work. You can search online and through catalogs from suppliers, or even pull photos from magazines about babies if the garden in the photo is what you’re trying to achieve.

Landscape designers think about the long-term vision, so give yourself 3-to-5 years for your vision to become a reality.

Landscape Designer Tip #2: Build a Budget

You don’t need a huge budget and multiple acres to make your dream come true, but you need to be realistic about what you can afford now and what you can plan for in the coming 3-to-5 years. A step-by-step plan implemented over time is the path to accomplish any backyard dream. Hynson encourages you to share your full vision with your contractor. Perhaps it’s a no-brainer, but definitely select a contractor you trust and with whom you can clearly communicate and work through ideas. You’re going to be a team for a long time—choose wisely.

landscape designers

Choose wisely if and when you choose to call in a professional landscape designer—make sure you can collaborate successfully. You’re going to be working together for awhile.

Landscape Designer Tip #3: Do Your Reseach

Seeing materials in person is a key step in deciding what will work for your project. You may have loved the look of something in a photo but upon closer inspection, you realize the material isn’t what you expected. Photos are retouched frequently—see it in person before you decide! The variation in quality between manufacturers can be wide. Look for the tried and true brands first.

Landscape Designer Tip #4: Plan Ahead!

Hynson says his company is typically booked solid by December for the coming summer’s projects. Therefore, plan ahead. If you want to do a major renovation or start from scratch on a major project start early and be patient.


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