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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I mentioned in a couple older posts I have recently been trying to make a bit of a segue into landscape design over just doing maintenance, and I'm finding myself with more and more questions every day. I'm just going to list some stuff off if anybody cares to reply they can give me you know answers for one, too, three, four, etc.. or maybe just and overall idea of how they think about things

One. Do you plan your schedule around the seasons, what do you do on and off season?

Two. Did you go to school or have any training for landscape design

Three. Do you do both maintenance and design, how do you delegate your time between the two?

Four. What's the most important thing that you've learned, or would give as advice for somebody getting into landscape design to be cautious of?

Five. Let me say first off that I am in a arid climate any answer May differ a little bit for me, but how do you deal with clients who are very anti irrigation systems, and are wanting a maintenance free design.
Maybe more specifically concerning watering and getting plants established. My clients right now expect me to plant their plants and then be totally done without any real watering schedule, they are snowbirds and will be renting out their house 6 months out of the year, but are also thinking about using me to do regular maintenance.

Six. How much input do your customers usually have, and what do you use to persuade them either for or against certain designs. I'm also curious what you bring to show them when you come and have a chat with them for the first time, and where you draw your inspiration from for the materials that you bring in as examples?

Seven. What is your special landscape design niche? What do you love to do to people's property the most? I haven't studied up too much on any particular styles whether it be mediterranean, native, European, but I really enjoy dimensionally diverse areas such as parts of the property that are either raised up or lowered down.
 

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1. Work year round with maintenance contracts and snow removal.
2. Yes college degree
3. Do both, maintenance crews require very little supervision as the guys and most clients have been with me for years
4. Not every job requires a formal, drawn to scale plan and when first starting off if a job is out of your league you’re probably better off declining it
5. No such thing as a maintenance free landscape, low maintenance yes. Plant material needs to be watered for establishment. Check out xeriscaping for ideas.
6. First visit I bring a portfolio of before and after. I ask them for their budget, and their likes and dislikes regarding colors, formal or informal, evergreen or deciduous, deer problems and so on. Most everyone states they want low maintenance.
7. For hardscaping we mostly use thermal cut flagstone, for landscaping we always include summer annuals in the plan and we propose a lot of Italian terra cotta pots for patios and swimming pool decks
 

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Seven. What is your special landscape design niche? What do you love to do to people's property the most?
Not gonna answer all your questions because I don't have that much time. But I have two favorite landscape design styles: High desert (think Bend, Oregon, basalt rocks, twisty pines, grasses, blues, greys, browns some yellow flowering groundcovers, but generally more of a spacious sparse feel you'd find in the high desert. And Japanese Garden design: (think careful rock choice and placement, lush greens, decorative gravel, character specimen trees, ferns, balance and symmetry. In Japan, I think you have to train under a teacher for many years to become a garden designer and those positions are held in high esteem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
1. Work year round with maintenance contracts and snow removal.
2. Yes college degree
3. Do both, maintenance crews require very little supervision as the guys and most clients have been with me for years
4. Not every job requires a formal, drawn to scale plan and when first starting off if a job is out of your league you’re probably better off declining it
5. No such thing as a maintenance free landscape, low maintenance yes. Plant material needs to be watered for establishment. Check out xeriscaping for ideas.
6. First visit I bring a portfolio of before and after. I ask them for their budget, and their likes and dislikes regarding colors, formal or informal, evergreen or deciduous, deer problems and so on. Most everyone states they want low maintenance.
7. For hardscaping we mostly use thermal cut flagstone, for landscaping we always include summer annuals in the plan and we propose a lot of Italian terra cotta pots for patios and swimming pool decks
Associates degree, cert, bachelor's, etc...?
How was that like?
 

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Associates degree, cert, bachelor's, etc...?
How was that like?
B.S. Ornamental Horticulture/Landscape Design.
It was a good experience and I learned a lot but not everything you learn from a book or in a classroom will translate to the field. A year or two hands-on experience is almost a prerequisite to starting a landscape business.
 

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1. We do most of our design work through the winter
2. AS Horticulture, BS Landscape Architecture. Nationally certified designer through APLD
3.Do garden maintenance, design and instal. No lawns. After 40 years(started at 12 years old), we’re transitioning to just garden maintenance. Hoping for less stress.
4. I can write a book
5. In my area, I find most of our gardens need little Supplemental water once established unless it’s an annual.
6.Not sure this comes with age, experience or both but my Clients have very little input besides the usually ‘do what you’d do at your house or just make it look good’
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well thank you guys so much for answering with so much detail, is a little discouraging to see that 100% of you have college degrees in this, but I know the couple projects that have going on are definitely doable it's just a lot to learn so quickly. I read a quote the other day where the guy said that with 20 hours you can learn to do 80% of most any job. Which for the most part I do actually agree in, although it may be that you can do the job ok or just barely get by.

I'm also curious what is the average price of these design installs? Right now I'm trying to over design, and seeing what people will buy that, rather than asking them their budget. At least that way I get to Noodle around with a bunch of cool ideas and I have some pretty cool pictures in my portfolio. But obviously the people that are choosing me are choosing me because I'm extremely cheap, because I don't have a portfolio or too much experience. My average install price is usually 2 to 3,000 bucks with a majority of it being the labor to spread rock.
 

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there are a lot of people that are ‘designers’ that have learned on the fly. You’ll learn a little bit from every job you design, install and maintain. What you‘d change, what you’d do differently, what worked. I was well versed in my early years with horticulture and design but didn’t really know anything about business. I’ve spent my career learning the basics of business. Average price not sure. We do some $3000-$5000 jobs every year and 1-2 six figure jobs every year so our average isn’t a true average. I’d say our sweet spot is $10,000-$30,000 plant installs and we sub or refer everything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
there are a lot of people that are ‘designers’ that have learned on the fly. You’ll learn a little bit from every job you design, install and maintain. What you‘d change, what you’d do differently, what worked. I was well versed in my early years with horticulture and design but didn’t really know anything about business. I’ve spent my career learning the basics of business. Average price not sure. We do some $3000-$5000 jobs every year and 1-2 six figure jobs every year so our average isn’t a true average. I’d say our sweet spot is $10,000-$30,000 plant installs and we sub or refer everything else.
What did you have a hard time learning business-wise?
 

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I'm glad to see you are exploring landscape design! I'll do my best to answer some of your questions.
Scheduling around seasons is important in landscape design. Off-season time can be spent planning and preparing for the next season.
Education and training can be helpful in the field but is not always necessary. Hands-on experience and a passion for design is key.
Balancing maintenance and design can be challenging, but prioritizing and scheduling effectively can help delegate time effectively.
I hope these answers help! If you'd like to learn more, check out jscustomlandscaping.com for more info.
 

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What did you have a hard time learning business-wise?
In 1993, after my first full year (full time) in business, I showed up to my accountant with a shoe box full of receipts. I had no idea how to set up my books or even how to due the books, hiring, firing, contracts, marketing, SEP iras.,estimating, job costing, people management(baby sitting) all had to be learned. 2 college degrees taught be how to be a designer and a technician. It did not teach me how to be a business owner or leader.
 

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In 1993, after my first full year (full time) in business, I showed up to my accountant with a shoe box full of receipts. I had no idea how to set up my books or even how to due the books, hiring, firing, contracts, marketing, SEP iras.,estimating, job costing, people management(baby sitting) all had to be learned. 2 college degrees taught be how to be a designer and a technician. It did not teach me how to be a business owner or leader.
so you just do garden maintenance, eventually, what type of services generally, pruning, weed control, fertilizer? Curious what pricing method you found best for this service ?
 

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so you just do garden maintenance, eventually, what type of services generally, pruning, weed control, fertilizer? Curious what pricing method you found best for this service ?
I live in an area that has quite a bit of weekend wealth, large estates etc...We have a combination of properties that a 3-4 man crew can spend a half a day, once a month maintaining. We also have clients that take 3-4 guys, 2x a week. For our most needy properties we are mulching, edging, pruning yearly and deadheading, watering annuals in the ground and containers, weeding and deer spraying multiple times a week. Of course a big part is annual rotations. Spring, summer, fall and winter greens. Summer and fall is truckloads and truckloads of plants at certain properties. That adds stress like design/build. After 30 years, I'm at the point where my sanity is more important than money. We still have installs going on...larger ones that we will plug away at in the coming years but the overall goal now, is garden maintenance. There's more money in design/estimate/build as we are strictly T&M as a maintenance company.
 
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