Should I Create A Landscape Design?
Should I Create A Landscape Design?
So here you are with some solid ideas and concepts. But you are not sure on how exactly things will look or come together. Now what? Do you get a bid and hope things turn out the way you imagined? Or do you pay for a quality design? A design will add at least a week onto the process and a few hundred in cost. Is it worth it?
This designer with 15+ years of industry experience will scream yes every time without thinking about it.
As I have said in the past, not every project needs a design.
However, far more projects should be designed out then are currently being designed. A simple retaining wall replacement or patio install does not need to be designed out. Any projects involving multiple aspects or plantings should be designed out. The reason being is the smallest variations will cause bids to vary greatly. Also a decent scaled design will show you exact sizes, plant types, placement of everything, and materials types. You will see exactly what you are getting.
Let’s take a step back. What does a decent landscape design consist of? A landscape design is a scale hand or computer drawing that will show the portion of the site to be worked on. It will also include all of your desired elements such as patios, retaining walls, plant beds, specific plant types, boulder outcroppings, etc. Since it is scaled, you will be able to take measurements from this design and know exact real world sizes. A fair number of clients I have worked with in the past actually took the design and spray painted everything onto their yards before the project was installed. A design will have a complete plant list with it. The design will serve as a construction document to be used throughout the install.
A basic design will cost anywhere from $200 to $1000 depending on the designer, whether it’s a computer design or hand drawn, the size of the site, and complexity of project and other factors.
The objective of the design is to get your ideas laid out so you can review them before the install is finished. It’s a visual preview. This gives you the opportunity to change things around before bids are drawn up. For example: you realize the patio is too small, it is easily changed in the design phase. Computer designs will often include patio furniture so you can see how the space flows and ensure enough space for your desired use. Or if you are unhappy with a few plants, you have the entire plant list to review and research prior to install. I strongly encourage you to research the plants on that list.
Being able to see everything and lay it out ahead of time will ensure that you are completely happy with everything before the project even breaks ground.
Some clients take weeks or months to review the design. This is a big step and the final product carries a big price tag. Just having time to see everything laid out exactly and know exact materials and plants allows for easy changes should you be unhappy with any aspect.
Skipping the design phase can lead to a lot of issues on larger or complex projects.
The issues start right away and can lead to headaches. Like many of my industry colleagues, I will refuse to bid certain projects without a design. Bidding larger complex projects without a hard and fast set of specifications leave too many variations for the bidders. This can cause bids to vary by as much as 40 or 50%.
At the end of the day, you are left with confusion between bids. You are left with questions of what are you getting and why are the bids so different. Also you lack the clear vision of what things will look like at the end of the project. Sometimes this confusion ruins projects for clients. Often times it leads to unpleasantries between the installer and the client. All of this could be avoided by having a proper design drawn up.
Ultimately, a proper design will make your overall landscape experience better.
Spending the time and money on a design will ensure the end result is the best possible for your site and your needs. It gives you the total project scaled out for you to see long before bids are ever drawn up. You have the opportunity to make drastic changes easily. With a design, the end result is known by all before bids are created. All bidders are creating their bids from the exact same specifications, creating bids that are actually comparable.
On larger and complex projects, start out the right way. Save yourself the trouble. Have a design drawn up.
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