West Coast Gardener – Do Your Landscape Ideas Need a Professional Designer?

by Colin Eaton, Garden City Tree & Landscape Ltd. – 

Creating a new landscape or rescuing an existing landscape can be fun and rewarding. If it is a simple design, you can use grid paper to create a scaled layout that includes the dimensions of certain elements.

However, mistakes can be costly with a complicated residential or commercial project that goes beyond your skill set. For this reason, you should use a landscape design for a project with any degree of complexity. That “plan” can provide the following benefits.
• Planning of each step of the build;
• Knowing how much effort and time each task will take; and
• Knowing the tools, equipment and materials that will be required, crucial to ensure the project is completed within your budget.

As the complexity of the project grows, so does the need for more advanced design abilities and knowledge.

Bylaws vary considerable from one municipality to the next, so what might have worked in Saanich may not work in View Royal. Ensure you are up to date on your local bylaws; having a clear understanding of what is needed for your district and how that relates to your project will avoid penalties, stop work orders or having to rip out your new landscape. A professional designer must know their local bylaws!

On the design front, a professional landscape designer with the right experience can incorporate CAD (computer automated drafting) and 3D modeling software to provide a customer with exceptional detail and vision before any breaking of ground.

Imagine that for a minute – you can see what the completed project will look like before the project starts! If you do elect to hire a professional designer, keep these things in mind:
• Choose a designer with the right level of expertise for your project;
• Check your designer’s portfolio to ensure they are capable of taking on the project you have in mind;
• Ask the designer what landscape contractor they have worked with in the past;
• Reach out to the landscape contractor to determine the quality of the design. Problems can develop if the designer’s ideas are beyond the capabilities of a landscape contractor;
• The best time to approach a design/build company is during the winter months. Expect there will be delays if you are looking for a design in the middle of the busy season; and
• A properly completed professional design provides a clear understanding of the cost of your project. It will provide the necessary dimensions and volumes of stock and materials required allowing for efficient estimating by any experienced contractor.

I have been a landscape professional in excess of 20 years and I have experienced the benefits of working with a quality professional landscape designer. A proper design allows the homeowner or business owner direct control over the cost and completion of a project. You would never build a home without a blueprint and I recommend not building a landscape without the same blueprint.

Success is found with a professional landscape design.

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