From idea to completion, the garden renovation was a positive experience for clients Cyle and Kelly Eldred and designer Jessi Bloom of NW Bloom Ecological Services. Here is their advice when considering hiring a landscape designer.
• DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Don’t be afraid to look at the work of a number of designers to find someone whose projects you like.
• SHARE THE LABOR to save money. “We rented a sod cutter to remove the unwanted lawn, and we also moved dirt by hand, with a shovel and wheelbarrow,” Cyle says.
• RECYCLE, REPURPOSE, and salvage materials such as broken concrete and leftover timbers.
• TRUST YOUR DESIGNER’S experience. “We did a lot of the planting, but Jessi designed the placement. That’s why it’s worth it to hire a designer because she knew what those 4-inch plants would look like when mature,” Cyle says.
• ASK TO SEE the candidates’ portfolio, discuss their designbuild process, and consider their credentials and professional alliances with hardscape contractors and plant nurseries.
• TALK ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION during the design process. “It’s easy to draw a beautiful garden on paper but more important to discuss how to actually install a garden,” Bloom says. “Discuss installation costs before plant selection.”
• UNDERSTAND DESIGN FEES and the overall budget. Know what you want to spend and communicate that clearly. Bloom recommends negotiating an hourly design rate rather than a flat fee so you know what you’re paying for.
• BE PATIENT. “A landscape design should not be finished overnight. It should take time and some backand-forth processing,” Bloom says.
Note: Consult your local zoning and planning office to check on plant-height restrictions or watering regulations before planting along the curbside strips of land.