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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a New Project

Fast forward a couple of months: The plants are blooming, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Ahhhh, spring is a wonderful time of year in central North Carolina, but for some reason the flowers are not in your yard and the birds are only faintly heard in the distance. You have come to the conclusion that it’s time to renovate your landscape! Whether you have a new home with limited landscaping or a twenty year old home with foundation shrubs growing over the windows….. it’s time for a change! There are definitely a few questions you need to ask yourself before you begin your landscaping project. Also, if you plan to hire a designer, it is important to be prepared before your first meeting. So, let’s get started!

What to Keep?
When you have an existing landscape it is easy to become attached to certain plants. Frequently, we have plants that become sentimental to us for various reasons (gifts, memorials, etc). The question of “What to save and what to discard?” comes into play. Many times plants can be relocated when the proper measures have been taken. Although, try not to be unreasonable when it comes to salvaging existing plants. After all, having plants in your landscape that you will enjoy in is the main goal. The more you enjoy your landscape the more time you will spend in the space.

Time Spent
That brings us to the next question(s): “How much time do you plan to spend in the landscape and how much time do you have to take care of your plants?” There is a big difference between spending time and interacting in the landscape versus admiring it from a distance. In addition, many intricate details can be used throughout the landscape if you are willing to keep them up, so to speak. There is nothing wrong with a landscape that is clean cut and only includes plants that need to be pruned once a year. But, if you are willing (and have the time) to do a little more, let your designer know. This is a big decision you need to make before your project begins, so give it a lot of thought. How much time and effort do I want to spend in my landscape?

What is Your Taste?
Another good question to ask yourself is: “What plants do I like?” It is understood that not everyone knows the name of every plant they have ever enjoyed. Have an idea of what interests you. For example, flower color, peeling bark, or even different fragrances (or no fragrance at all!) are great examples of what to think about. When the designer asks, “What do you like?,” it’s best to have an idea as it gives the designer some direction. Never say “Whatever you think looks best,” as no two people have the same taste! This is your landscape, so plant something YOU will enjoy!

Of course, there are always two sides to every coin. Another approach is to ask yourself : “What plants do I despise?” Personally, there are very few plants that I do not like but there are definitely a couple. You have to ask yourself some of the same questions about why you like plants. I will say, the majority of plants I do not like is due to their fragrances. You need to make sure something you loathe doesn’t end up in your landscape.

Views in the Landscape
Views are another important thing to consider in the landscape. There are two effects that can be created with views in the landscape: a view can be either accented or blocked. I worked on a challenging project in downtownRaleigh where the client wanted to block her neighbor’s view into her property, but at the same time highlight the view ofRaleigh’s skyline. Is privacy and issue in your landscape? Creating a screen can serve two purposes: aesthetics and functionality. A well designed landscape can create movement and intrigue in the landscape. Not knowing what is behind the bend in the path is a great way to explore your own landscape with interest!

Budgeting Your Design
Your budget is something to consider when mapping out your landscape. When putting your budget together, ask yourself if this is a project that you are planning to enjoy for many years to come or is it a quick fix? What is meant by a “quick fix?” If you are renovating your landscape to help sell your home, that is considered a quick fix. Usually, every dollar you invest in your landscape is returned when your home is sold. On the other hand it is hard to spend $15K-$20K if you plan to move soon. These are ideas that need to be discussed with your designer. There might be some quick fixes that will really improve your property without breaking the bank.

These are just a few important questions to ask yourself before hiring a landscape designer. Do not leave everything to the designer to decide; be involved with your landscape design! Finally, take some time to research what your designer presents to you. You are the one who will be enjoying your landscape and the one paying the tab so make sure you like it!

Good Luck!
Bobby C., Landscape Designer
FairviewGreenhouses & GardenCenter