Originally Posted by PaperCutter
I think a lot of it depends on where you are in terms of knowledge, and how well you can sell. If you're unproven, don't have a strong portfolio of built work, and people get the sense that you're still finding your way, photo imaging might give your homeowner enough confidence in the outcome to say "sure, let's do it." I think the programs are bullcrap and I won't use them, but that's me.
Because I didn't have these photo imaging programs available to me when I was starting out (back when I was 21 the software and a computer advanced enough to run it would have set me back >$5k), I had to learn to sell the hard way. Here's what you do:
1- commit to learning 2 plants a day. Get to know size at maturity, evergreen or deciduous, does it bloom, when it blooms, does it like full shade or full sun.
2- buy the basics for drawing: circle template, scale, pen, Sharpie, and a pencil and eraser.
3- make a stack of copies of 8x11 paper with your titleblock at the bottom.
That's really all you need if you can sell. #1 will give you the confidence to recommend the right plant for the right place, and when the client picks up on this confidence they'll be convinced by a simple plan view sketch that shows where everything goes and the sized relative to one another. \
Don't lose sight of the fact that you're selling your ability to conceptualize and execute a landscape. Anything else - software, artist's tools, etc - is just in service of that goal.
Don't make it more complicated than it has to be.
This is excellant advice. I am a born seller. This is how I have gotten to where I am. I hate to say it, but I know quality and do my best to provide it in everything I do. I have kind of faked it until I made it type of thing in the beginning. People told me it was the confidence and me selling myself that sold the business. I do realize I need to work at this slowly from the ground up and that is what I am going to do with the help of my business friend. I do appreciate everyone giving honest information. I know some on here say quick things or nothing at all. Truly a great experience. I will post before and afters when a couple of these jobs are finished. Thanks!