Thursday, June 16, 2011

How to prepare for a first meeting with a garden designer

I have to tell you, I've worked with the most amazing clients this year. From the mom of three/attorney who wants to grow fresh vegetables from her potager garden in the front yard, to the couple who wanted a potager and bird sanctuary in their backyard, to my wonderful neighbors who wished to add colorful native perennials, I've been really lucky to be able to work with such friendly, colloraborative, and environmentally conscious people. It's been such an honor getting to know them and their properties.

Interestingly, something all my clients have had in common this year is that they have all been very prepared for our first meeting. They had clearly taken some time prior to our meeting to get their thoughts and ideas together, which helped guide my design process toward a final plan that met their needs and offered ideas for spaces and garden rooms that they hadn't considered.

There are some things that you can do to prepare for your first meeting with a garden designer.
  • Take a look around your property. Which areas do you want to change, and which do you like? Write down things like, "This area is always muddy," or "I hate this fence," or "I love the view from my kitchen window."
  • Gather pictures of gardens you like from books or magazines. Make a list of features that you'd like to include in your landscape, such as patios, fireplaces, additional seating areas, pergolas, or other structures.
  • Think about how you will use your space. Do you need a space for the kids to play? A place to sit in the shade and read a book? A spot for your dog to, well, you know.
  • Do you have a favorite plant? A favorite group of colors?
  • Are there spots in your yard that are always dry? Waterlogged for days after a heavy rain?
  • Consider how the sun moves across your property at different times of the year. For example, most vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. If you want to grow vegetables, there is no getting around that. Also consider shady areas. Is it deep shade, or is it really dappled sunlight?
  • Finally, close your eyes and picture your fantasy garden. Try to be specific as you think of what you really want your garden to be. A quiet place of serenity where you can escape the rigor of the day? A place filled with color and excitement and places for entertaining? A spot where your kids can explore the wonders of nature?
As a designer, my goal is to collaborate with my clients to create outdoor spaces that are functional and provide four seasons of beauty. The more thought a client puts into it ahead of the first meeting, the sooner we can get to an end product that you love! Of course, some clients think about it, and resolve that all they really want is for it to look pretty. And those jobs are lots of fun too!

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