Did you know that a great landscape doesn’t start with the plants or trees or even the location of the koi pond or patio? Behind every successful landscape project is a detailed Master Plan. And behind that is a landscape architect who understands the art and science of landscape design – and who understand *you*.
That’s right, *you* are at the very center of your own beautiful landscape. Your goals, your lifestyle, your preferences and even the needs of your property and the style of your home.
Long before a single stem is chosen or a stone set, a Master Plan is drawn that reflects these things and so much more. Your landscape consultation will help guide this planning document, and these questions will help guide you as you prepare for your consultation.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive or fixed list of questions. It’s just a sampling of some of the key factors that go into designing your perfect outdoor living space, and some of the questions your landscape designer may ask at your consultation.
What Outdoor Sports Or Hobbies Do You Enjoy?
This goes for the whole family. If you’ve got kids who can’t spend a summer afternoon without a ball in their hands, then that’s something to consider during the master planning phase. In this case, turning your entire backyard into a flower garden may not lend itself to your family’s enjoyment.
On the other hand, if you love gardening and want to nurture flowers, or even vegetables, that can be built into your design.
Not much of a gardener, but still enjoy a stroll through a beautiful space? That can be accommodated, too! Some winding pathways, perhaps a fish pond for afternoon contemplation, or a cozy seating area for evening stargazing, and you’ve got your own personal sanctuary.
Whatever your lifestyle, it’s first and foremost in helping choose a direction for your landscape design.
Do You Have Pets?
If Fido loves eating your Forsythia, that’s a good indicator that perhaps something less… appetizing should be planted. Some plants and foliage are actually harmful to cats and dogs, so if yours roam the gardens freely, it’s a good idea to stay away from those.
You landscape should accommodate the lifestyle of your furry family members, too. If you need room for your dog to romp or an area to keep the bunny hutch, those things can be designed into your master plan.
Do You Have Nosy Neighbors?
We’d be a bit more polite about that question, but if the neighbors are a bit too close for comfort and you want to enjoy your afternoon tea on the patio in peace, privacy may be a big deal.
Or maybe the neighbors aren’t a problem but the traffic on the street is. If you live on a busy or noisy street, it can mar your enjoyment of your outdoor space.
There are lots of ways to create privacy in yards big and small. If that’s a concern for you, mention it to your landscape architect so it can be included in your master plan.
Do You Enjoy Outdoor Parties Or Entertaining?
Whether your parties are the talk of the town or you simply want to enjoy some spaghetti and meatballs with a friend, your master plan should include all the details. That means accommodating for the number of people you typically host, the style of hosting that you do, and what type of entertainment you may want to enjoy.
Large parties will require more seating, and a different flow of space than small groups. You may also want to consider an outdoor cooking area, which can be as simple as a grill, or as elaborate as a full outdoor kitchen with plumbing and refrigeration.
As for entertainment, have you considered outdoor speakers for ambient music, or even a television for sports-watching? A fire pit or fireplace can also be a great gathering spot, especially during cooler nights. Any of these things can be designed into your master plan, however grand or humble.
Do You Have Children?
We mentioned making a space for sports and hobbies, and that includes spaces for kids. But there’s quite a lot more that you can do with a space to make it both adult-friendly and child-worthy.
Natural “sand boxes”, swimming ponds (yes, they CAN swim with the koi!), seating areas made from those old tree stumps, and a spot for butterfly-watching or frog-catching, can all be part of a landscape that is both beautiful and functional.
Sure, you can keep an open, grassy space for games and play equipment, but why not explore the myriad opportunities for stimulating your child’s creativity and play through nature?
Do You Have Any Plant Preferences?
If you hate Hydrangea but would die for Dogwood, then guess what is – and isn’t – going into your master plan! You may have very specific preferences, for example, certain plants, shrubs or flowers that you would love to see, and others that you simply don’t enjoy.
Or, you may have more of a general idea, such as which color palettes you prefer, or whether you want more greenery than blooms.
Plant preferences can also be practical. If you’ve got terrible seasonal allergies to certain types of plants, those should absolutely be avoided.
When considering plant materials, also consider things you may not ordinarily think about, such as how do they fare from season to season? A winter yard full of dead twigs and grass is not going to be as interesting as it was in the spring, so plants should be chosen for year-round appeal.
They should also be chosen for what they bring to your space beyond the visual appeal – things like scent, motion and even how edible they are in your summer salad! There’s a lot to think about, so start with your preferences and your landscape designer will guide you through the rest.
What Else Would You Like To Include In Your Dream Space?
There’s a lot more to landscaping than the “landscape.” By that we mean more than the grass, trees, shrubs and plants!
There are plenty of elements that can bring interest and beauty to your space all year long – large boulders, natural stone walkways and patios, ponds, streams, waterfalls or fountains, a gazebo or arbor, artwork and sculptures, fire pits, pools, lighting and more.
You may also like to see something included that’s already there, like an existing patio, vegetable garden or even a favorite tree that you’d like moved to another location.
Now is the time to dream! Before a single stone is turned or a penny spent on perennials, the master planning phase is the time to imagine what you’d really like to see in your outdoor space so you can fall in love with it – and budget for it – before you begin.
The beauty of a master plan is that it can help you plan for now as well as into the future, showing you how your dream landscape can be phased in over time.
We hope you’ve been inspired by these questions to think about *your* outdoor dream space and that you feel more prepared for your master planning consultation. If you’d like to schedule one with us, it’s easy. Just complete the form on our website and we’ll get back to you right away. We look forward to getting to know all about you and your outdoor dreams.