designing a landscape

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by tractrpowr45, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. tractrpowr45

    tractrpowr45 LawnSite Member
    from NY
    Messages: 32

    Hi all, just have a couple questions about estimating. When you go on an estimate to a potential clients house and they want you to draw up a design for their property, what questions would you ask them to determine what they want the landscape to look like. In other words, how do you sell the job, appear knowledgeable, and know what they want the design to look like? A couple questions I thought of would be: What colors do you like; what is your budget for this project; do you have certain trees/shrubs/perennials that you like. Any help would be appreciated.

    Also, how do you draw up your design? Colored pencils and sketch paper?
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    OK here is a list off my question sheet

    What colors do you like?
    Do you have any favorite plants or trees?
    Do you prefer a formal or informal garden design?
    Do you prefer a showy garden or more subdued?
    Do you like to sit out in your garden?
    Do you have pets the will have acsess to the garden?
    Do you like to work in the garden?
    How much time do you have to devote to upkeeping your garden?
    Do you travel alot?
    Do you need privacy?
    Would you like a water feature?
    How mant tree's would you like?
    Will you be adding more plantings once your landscape is complete?
    Will any young children be in the garden?
  3. Dstosh

    Dstosh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 716

    How much maintenance do you want to do to it? Dont forget about that one. Try to limit it to like planting some annuals, not total no maintenance that isnt exactly flexable. Word it something like this " Would you mind doing some yearly planting". Show them concepts first, So you dont get a whole drawing done and they dont like it. It also gives them a sence that you are really designing the project for them and you are giving it 100% of your attention. Give them a few sketches and say I am going to go with a flowering shrub here etc or a blue green foilage. Dont give away the store but at the same time give them enough so you can get some feedback. Good Luck
  4. Livingreen

    Livingreen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    If you want to provide a professional design to a client, the first and most important thing you want to do is LISTEN! Listen to what they want and any problems or desires they might have. After knowing that, you can provide a design based on addressing their wants and needs. Only by knowing that will you be able to design something they will like. There are many questions to ask once you have listened, and sheshovel and dstosh are in line with the next steps. Good luck!
  5. PlantSolutions

    PlantSolutions LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    Best thing you can do is work with a landscape designer to ensure you have proper plant, proper place and a creative design. A designer also has the skills to present and do a full drawn out design. I work with a few lanscapers in my area. Ask around in your area, I am sure there will be a few.
  6. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,406

    Listening is most important, but having the talent, knowledge and artistic ability to put it all together is an art form. You have to understand all the different facets of the landscape industry to create a design. You must know about drainage, soils, plants, hardscapes, turf, irrigation, fertilization, pruning, maintenance and every other facet of landscaping to be able to create a landscape design that the client will be happy with for years to come and you will be proud to have installed.

    The initial meeting is only that, the first step. You should have an open line of communication with your client even after the design has been installed. You need to try and understand their needs, present and future and incorporate their desires. Look at how they live, inside and out. Ask them what they don't like, most people don't know what plants or colors they do like, but most often they can tell you exactly what they don't like.

    Don't appear knowledgeable, be knowledgeable. Get an education, whether it be a college degree or courses in the slow season. Read books and magazines about plants, landscaping and trends. Present value to your clients and charge for your abilities. A free design is worth just that! If this is all new to you, enlist the help of a designer or architect. Your work will be better and most likely bigger. Remember, this design is about the client. If you do this right, they are the lead in this design. You want to take their wants and desires and with your talents and abilities give them a landscape that will wow them when completed and please them for many years to come.

    Everyone has given you excellent questions, but you need to ask yourself the first question. Is this something you want or are able to do. Design is a complete facet of landscaping, just as maintenance, irrigation and hardscaping are. Do you have the tools and time to do it well, because your work will depend on good information and design.

    As for drawing designs, sketch paper and graph paper are ok for concepts or notes, but you need to do a final design on vellum and colored, like colored pencils or use a CAD based software program. The scale should be large enough to be easily understood and read. Beware, most people, including professionals do not know how to read or understand plan drawings. They are essential for estimating, construction and planting, but don't expect you client to get it. 3D imaging or if you are able, hand drawn perspectives or elevations will convey your ideas much easier. As you can see, good design is about a lot more than just asking questions.

  7. landscapedesignpros

    landscapedesignpros LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 337

    Everyone posts are right on. There are templates and books that can help you to learn the proper plant symbols and how to draw and shade them. Most speciality craft stores have them or try a book store at a local university that has landscape design classes. I couldnt agree more that most clients cant figure out a scale even if its as basic as 1" = 1', just make sure to take a ruler with you when you present to you can show them exactly how it works, but even then they all ways seem to have trouble. Good Luck with your design work

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