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View Full Version : Please critique my first design of the season


wratke
05-03-2008, 02:15 AM
I'm working on the design for my first project of the year using Pro Landscape and I was hoping for some suggestions/criticism before I show it to my client. I know the beds look kind of wonky, it's about as good as I could make it look with the limitations of the software. I plan on using Allen Block Garden Accents for the beds, the one in front will be on a grade, so it'll be two courses in the back and around five in the front. I had a lot of success with a bed I did last summer on a fairly steeply graded lawn, I checked it out this week and it looks as good as the day I installed it. I'm thinking the biggest problem is that I've sized the plants too big and that I'll end up with too much space in the beds when I actually go to plant after the install is done. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Before and After Pictures:

http://i27.tinypic.com/30mabts.jpg
http://i25.tinypic.com/16b0y9s.jpg
http://i27.tinypic.com/etvd5w.jpg
http://i25.tinypic.com/2qdsmr8.jpg

amscapes03
05-03-2008, 03:26 AM
I'd center that tall shrub between the two windows. In the raised island bed the tree looks like it's kinda just hangin out there on the edge. The specimen tree should be the highlight of that bed and surrounding shrubs/perennials should complement it. I'd probably move the tree more toward the center of the island (just off center a bit). When i plant smaller shrubs and perennials i like to group them in odd numbers 3,5,7 etc. Seems to look more natural. Use shrubs and perennials that are in the evergreen family. There's lots of variety and color to chose from, and they'll give life and color year round.

LindblomRJ
05-03-2008, 09:23 AM
I would center that tall shrub and maybe move it away from the house a bit... I guess it really doesn't indicate how close to the house it is... It may become a issue in the future.

before you get to far along fix the low spot and that drainage issue.

Amscapes has some pretty good ideas too.

wratke
05-03-2008, 10:14 AM
Thanks for the suggestions so far. Lindblom, about the drainage issue, should I be looking at regrading that whole area so that it drains better? Should I be digging it up and putting in drainage tiles? It doesn't seem like there's an easy fix for it. The only other solution I see is trying to put a little culvert underneath the driveway so that it drains to the other side a bit more, but I doubt that would really solve the issue.

Thanks again for the advice, I really appreciate it.

LindblomRJ
05-03-2008, 06:37 PM
Thanks for the suggestions so far. Lindblom, about the drainage issue, should I be looking at regrading that whole area so that it drains better? Should I be digging it up and putting in drainage tiles? It doesn't seem like there's an easy fix for it. The only other solution I see is trying to put a little culvert underneath the driveway so that it drains to the other side a bit more, but I doubt that would really solve the issue.

Thanks again for the advice, I really appreciate it.

I would want to see more of the site. Any of the three suggestions to me would OK. Personally I think I was do some grading and not mess with drain tile if at all possible. I see you are north of the 49th my concern would be for a warm spell that melts snow or whatever suddenly and ground frozen and potentally freezing the drain tile.

AGLA
05-03-2008, 08:15 PM
Your design should be in response to something. It does not look like there is any purpose to having a retaining wall in front of that section of the house. Then there is a walled island garden that is just floating out there in the middle of nowhere.

Quite honestly, it looks like you are just looking for places to put walls rather than trying to make either a functional or aesthetic landscape.

It is a tough landscape because it is so big and wide open. The house tells me that the budget is not going to be very big either. Rather than trying to landscape the whole property, try to landscape a much tighter area closer to the house. By scattering the trees way out, the house starts to own all that real estate as its landscape. It does not have to. Define a smaller area close to the house. The less the house claims, the less empty it will be. Treat it as a house on asmall lot surrounded by farm land. It will be much easier and much nicer.

Don't get too caught up in trying to see what the photo imaging program will do. Start with figuring out what these people need to do around their house (walkways, patios, soccer field). Make sure those things relate to the functions of the house that they are near (barbecue near the kitchen). Then make sure those things are sized right for their needs. Use plants and any hardscapes to enhance those uses.

Obviously, the appearance of the house is one of those functions these people will want to address. You have a pile of lattice on that porch which is screaming for some help. Also, these people will probably want to spend some time on that porch, so it will be important to do things around it that will enhance the experience of being on that porch.

There is a lot of garage there that is right in your face. You can't hide it because of the driveway, but you can disassociate it by framing in the house. You could extend the planting from in front of the porch to the drive. You would then have a place for a tree that could frame the right side of the porch and hide the pass door (door for people) in the process. You could put a large planting to the left the porch and out extended past the end of the house. I'd frame that side of the porch with a tree as well. The porch and dormer are the nicest feature of that house.

You should build the look off of that rather than sticking a planting to screen it. You'll also be blocking the view outward from the house if you stuck that island there.

If you are going to use a bunch of spruce, group them close to each other and just off to the side of the house. The ones on the right should be grouped near the one that you have which is closest to the drive. That helps downplay the RV storage and garage by being so far forward.

White Gardens
05-03-2008, 09:37 PM
Go ahead and put grass in the pictures too. Go under your draw menu, and go from there. You want to make sure you have a complete design in order to show your customer what the potential is.

I honestly don't care for the walls, especially in the center of the yard. Curb apeal is everything and the eyes are naturally pulled to the front door.

Sometimes less is more.

I just noticed too that your retaining wall on the left doesn't follow the grade. you'll want to address that. If you can get your perspectives down, then you won't be able to translate to your customer exactly what your trying to acheive. One of the things I've figured out with my customers is that most of them can't visualize exactly what they want, that's why they want you to do it for them.

SwihartServices
05-03-2008, 09:42 PM
i think you broke every single landscape design principle there is.

Lawnworks
05-03-2008, 10:52 PM
I would concentrate more on the foundation plantings. Phase 1 would be foundation plantings. Phase 2 would be trees and island planting.

I would ditch the block as well. I see no use for it. They would get more bang for there buck getting more plantings. I think the planting would be more profitable anyway.

greenman10
05-04-2008, 09:27 PM
Doesn't look like Lamdscape Design to me. No design to your idea

wratke
05-07-2008, 07:42 PM
Thanks for all of the replies. The fellow that owns the house is single and kind of has the attitude that if he chucks some beds down his property will automatically look better. I know it's my job to steer him towards something that suits and compliments his property, but he has his heart set on that island in the front of the house. His neighbors all have islands of some sort in front of the house and he's clamped on to that idea. And he wanted that bed even larger, when I went out to take some measurements, he got me to double the size of it. It's around 450 square feet and has a circumference of 85 yards. It's a monster. He also wants three trees in the island instead of one. I'm pricing it out right now and I'm certain his eyeballs are going to bulge when he sees the price tag. I added the bed at the corner of the house, hoping it would make the island in the front make more sense. I like the idea of scrapping the walls and focusing on more plantings around the house, I don't know how he would receive the idea though. He wants something really low maintenance since he's away working most of the time and he seems dead set on copying his neighbor's beds. I was there this morning though and realizing how I'm going to put all of this effort in on these huge beds, and I won't even want to take a picture to show as a sample after it's done.

What would most of you do in this situation? Do what the owner wants even if it looks like crap, or try and sell them on something else and abandon ship if it looks like you're going to be giving birth to a monster landscape?

greenman10
05-07-2008, 08:21 PM
If the job doesn't meet the standards I have set for my company, I would tell the customer please find some else. I would not want my company name attached to the job. I believe in giving what the customer wants, but it must meet my professional standards or else. Your company's name is built on the quality that you provide.

LindblomRJ
05-08-2008, 12:38 AM
As big an area in the front as thier is an island can be done and frankly I think it would look pretty decent and break up the field look. I don't know what to think about the raised look. Its the home owners choice and ultimatly he is the one who is going to look at it day after day.

I like the idea of some planting up close to the house...

Isobel
05-08-2008, 10:35 AM
Personally its not what I would have designed, but we can't all have the same designs--that would be boring.

I would do what the owners want. you can make it look professional. I've had many jobs like that before where I do something that I wouldn't personally do, but that's what the client wants, and in the end that's who is going to be looking at it.

you have trees in the middle of the lawn without any beds, or footer plants (smaller plants in front of the big ones so the size difference isn't so stark).

Have you taken a look around his neighborhood? take a look and take design elements from neighbor's properties.

at the very least I would line the driveway with plants, and put the lawn in the design--even if you're not installing it, it will go a long way towards making the client able to see the final project.

wratke
05-08-2008, 05:34 PM
I emailed him with the quote for the raised beds and included a much cheaper alternative that scrapped the beds and incorporated a lot of the suggestions I've received. So far I haven't heard back, I'm pretty certain he had no idea how much those beds were going to cost. I think next "big" project I get called out to, I'm going to start by feeling the client out for what their budget is and use that as a guideline for my design. I've got some smaller, more manageable projects in the pipeline to cut my teeth on though, so if this fellow drops out I'm not too concerned.

I appreciate all the feedback I received. Thanks!

Isobel
05-09-2008, 12:46 PM
I emailed him with the quote for the raised beds and included a much cheaper alternative that scrapped the beds and incorporated a lot of the suggestions I've received. So far I haven't heard back, I'm pretty certain he had no idea how much those beds were going to cost. I think next "big" project I get called out to, I'm going to start by feeling the client out for what their budget is and use that as a guideline for my design. I've got some smaller, more manageable projects in the pipeline to cut my teeth on though, so if this fellow drops out I'm not too concerned.

I appreciate all the feedback I received. Thanks!

I don't know if you do this, but something I've found useful in large yards as this, is to price out the property in sections. That way the home owner can pick and choose sections they want/can to tackle now, and wait until later to do the remaining sections.

EagleLandscape
05-09-2008, 12:50 PM
Ditch ProLandscape!!!!

wratke
05-09-2008, 03:14 PM
Which program would you recommend?

White Gardens
05-10-2008, 11:11 PM
You've already invested in Pro-Landscape, I'd stick with it, not a cheap investment. I also haven't found another program that gives you perspective control like Pro. I do agree though, not the best out there.

You've got the right idea, pleasing the customer and using some landscaping concepts to the design.

Try off-setting your island so it doesn't sit smack dab in the front of the house.

Play around with more than one design also. I just got done doing four different ideas to a customer. One of them is what they were asking for and the others were my idea. She choose one that wasn't even close to what she thought she wanted. Present stages as others have said. It's fairly cheap to convert the file over to PDF format and have a print shop print them in photo-quality to show him in person.

Good Luck, hope you get some positive results from him.

Also, if you still have problems with him, go to your library and get a couple of books about landscape design theory, and show him how to get the best look, at the best price, and also how a good look will increase the curb appeal and value of his home. I always try to get a 100%-200% percent return on their investment in landscaping.

I personally didn't completely hate the walls, they just looked way to "heavy" in the design. Maybe think of some smaller wall block, and not so high, almost like extra large edging.

TXNSLighting
05-11-2008, 10:51 AM
Man that is just bad. start over please, and do not show that to the customer.

wratke
05-11-2008, 11:34 AM
I've mentioned before TLL350 that this design is what the customer asked for. The customer has his heart set on the island in front, to the point that he's ignored all of my other suggestions. He's trying to figure out a way to make the bed cheaper, he's asked me to build the bed without putting any dirt or wall rock in and letting him do the rest to cut costs. I told him, for obvious reasons, that this wouldn't work. He doesn't seem to want to budge from the idea of this huge bed, he doesn't even want to change the size or position of it. Unfortunately, not everyone has discerning taste. This fellow is a 30 something bachelor that works on the rigs. I think my main mistake is not talking budget right from the get go and wasting my time and his time when he obviously had no intention of spending anything close to what his idea would cost. I'm finding that even though most people up here have a fair amount of money due to the economic boom from oil, they're eyes are way bigger than their wallets. Everyone has an "I could do that myself" mentality and they don't want to spend any money on anything. The number of obvious home owner specials around here is astounding. There are whole subdivisions with crooked and crumbling wall work and just a really poor quality of landscaping in general. Same thing for mowing, I'm below the market price of all the established companies but I'm still getting my throat cut by the lowballers here. Honestly, I'm about ready to pack it in, I'm moving to Ottawa this fall and I'm praying that the market there will be better. There's likely to be more competition, but it seems like a market with people who actually have some taste along with the money to afford landscaping.

Thanks again for all the suggestions, even though this client was a dead end, I still feel like I've learned an awful lot.

White Gardens
05-11-2008, 11:25 PM
Sorry to hear that, better luck next-time. At least you didn't get into the project and had to hear him complain about it constantly.

LindblomRJ
05-11-2008, 11:56 PM
Thanks again for all the suggestions, even though this client was a dead end, I still feel like I've learned an awful lot.

That is healthy way to look at it. Keep doing a quality job and things will look better for you.

Jb3NH
05-13-2008, 11:40 PM
AGLA in my opinion is right on the mark, especially about the porch intrest plantings. In my opinion, i would would i would like to be able to see my front door from the road. That tree seems to be blocking it at a driving perpendicular angle.

brownings
05-14-2008, 12:28 AM
Plant him some water lillies in the pond that is collecting and drop some mulch on it in a big circle :) kidding

Don't be scared to ask what their budget is at the first meeting or first contact. Tell them that you need to know how large or how small the job is for scheduling. (You want to make sure that you have the labor lined up.) It saves you work, time and aggrevation.

Keep practicing with your computer program. It really helps open them up for more work. You can get lighting jobs, stonework/pavers, irrigation and build decks if you show them what their place or business will look like with a little color. Here is your property after i goofed around with it. Forgive the lopsided driveway...http://img530.imageshack.us/img530/4484/screenhunter01may132340kb0.gif