Design Questions

The following is a list of questions, prompts, and lines of thought helpful for designing landscapes that work well for the homeowner.

 

Purpose/Function(s)

  • What is the purpose of this project, what are the objectives, what are the priorities, and what are the various functions we hope to achieve?

    • Examples: curb appeal, selling the house, easier maintenance, clean and neat, more color, wildlife concerns or desires, entertaining, recreation, pets, kids, privacy, security, appropriateness for the neighborhood

    • Questions: who is this for, what are we trying to achieve, how will the space be used, are there functional considerations (like access to a hose), is it desirable to incorporate some function into the landscape (like a bench)?

Light

  • How much light will the plants get, when will they get it, for how long, and at what intensity?

    • Considerations: what cardinal direction does the bed face, is it AM or PM sun, how many hours of sun, is it direct or filtered light, how does it change seasonally?

 

Water

  • How much water will the plants get naturally, how will that be supplemented by watering, and by what means will irrigation be applied?

    • Considerations: What is the natural moisture level, is the area high, low, flat, bowl shaped, are there erosion concerns, flooding concerns, drainage issues, how will the plants be watered, by hand, by system, and how often?

    • Look out for: roof overhangs that block rainfall, downspouts that flood certain areas, grading toward or away from the house and related to that, grade that is too high on the house

 

Care/Maintenance

  • Assuming almost everyone wants little to no maintenance, how do you define what you’re realistically hoping for in terms of ongoing maintenance?

    • Considerations: who will be taking care of this, what are the time and financial parameters, what do you enjoy or dislike doing in the garden, do you travel for extended periods of time, what are your biggest maintenance concerns; weeds, trimming, pruning, leaves, watering, not knowing what to do?

 

Preferences

  • Given that we’re all at different levels of plant knowledge and design savvy, are there things you have some certainty about, that you would either like or dislike in your landscaping?

    • Examples: specific plants you like or dislike, a particular vibe or feel you like, a personal style you can identify, your favorite colors and/or color tone, existing plants or features you wish to keep or others you want gone, things you’ve seen online or elsewhere that appeal to you

 

Animals

  • Whether they are dearly cherished or considered an enemy to the landscaping, animals can have an impact on the overall plan.

    • Considerations: are there particular concerns or issues with deer, rabbits, moles, squirrels, termites, bees or other critters, are there pets in the yard to keep in mind, are there animals we want to attract or like birds, bees, or butterflies?

 

Environment

  • The architecture of the home, the size of the property, and the characteristics of the neighborhood all influence the design and material choices to some degree.

    • Considerations: what’s typical for this area, what do the neighbor’s have planted in their yards, what types of hardscaping materials are common here, how big or small is the space, does the architecture lean toward a particular style or vibe, how is the space being used? (no thorns around pools)

 

Vantage points and access

  • Who is the primary audience for this and from where are they viewing it, and/or from what direction will they access it?

    • Considerations regarding vantage point: views from windows, how it looks from the street, blocking the view of the surroundings and/or privacy (dense or filtered), planting small to big depends on where it’s viewed from

    • Considerations regarding access: is there a need to get to something and how often, from what direction is the area approached

 

Space / size

  • The size of the space affects the size and spacing of the plants and other other elements in the landscaping.

    • Considerations: mature plant size and concern or lack of concern about the long term, preference regarding how full and dense vs. more sparse and neat, can you see it from the primary vantage point (can you see it in the back of the yard from the kitchen window), will it encroach into a walkway or smother an AC unit over time, is it proportionate to the scale (small house, small plants)

 

Availability

  • Can we get it, when can we get it, and will it work here?

    • Questions: does this plant thrive in this climate (zone 6), do nurseries stock it and how easy will it be to get, is the availability seasonal, can we order it and how long will that take, should we plant in stages?

 

Timeframe

  • What’s your timeframe?

    • Questions: is there a deadline, what’s the urgency, are some aspects a higher priority than others, is there a target season for this work or aspects of it, what about doing the work in stages, are there start-to-finish parameters, are there other contractors involved, are there events, days, or holidays we should schedule around, do you have travel plans affecting the schedule?

 

Budget

  • We don’t know what we’re working with from one situation to another, unless you share that information with us, and it can be helpful in the planning process.

    • Questions: do you have an idea regarding the price range for this project,  is there a fixed amount to stay within, is an estimate required, what are the down payment and final payment expectations, are installments an option?