Plan Now, Plant Later
POSTED BY CELILO / NEWSIt may seem ill-timed to think about designing a garden project this time of year but if you have a project that you want to tackle the next growing season NOW is the time to do your planning NOT in March or April when the sun comes out.
Why Fall and Winter? The landscape trade has seasonal highs and lows – Take advantage of it!
Designers’ availability: Fall and Winter tends to be the slow season for Designers. They will typically have time available to work with you. As Spring hits they get busy and may not be able to address your design needs for several months.
Get Bids when times are slow: If you have a landscape design ready to go by January or February it is likely you will first in line to talk with Landscape Contractors. And you will not only get bids back faster but you will you may very well get a less expensive bid in late winter or very early spring than in June when everyone in the landscape trade is swamped with work.
More Plant Material is available in the spring: Being ready with a finished design and contactor on board in the early spring means plant material will be more available and will be easier to find. This ultimately means there is less of a risk that substitutions will be necessary and you will get the design you want.
Allow Time to Design:
Every design takes time but rarely do folks consider that in the scheme of things. Whether you are doing the landscape planning or you hire a professional to design with you.
Expect to spend a minimum of 2 perhaps 3 months perhaps longer to produce a completed design start to finish – not including the installation.
Typical Design Steps if you are working with a professional designer:
THIS IS ALL BEFORE ANY DEMOLITION IS DONE OR ANY HOLE IS DUG.
Show a set of completed documents: Explain each piece.
Not all designers produce documents alike and the final product will vary in what it looks like but the information should be the same.
4 hardcopies of the drawings –1 for their records, 3 to give to bidders.
1 color copy of plant images for their records
And Electronic copy of the plant images and if they request it a pdf of the drawings too.
>>Talk about Negotiating with one contractor early in the design process rather than bidding. Explain the difference
Bidding vs. Negotiating
I typically include 1-2 PERHAPS 3 site meetings during the installation in my proposals. A meeting as the job begins// Another as the plants are installed and IF there is a lot of hardscape (patios, decks, paths) one more visit during that process too.
When you are doing your own design the process and steps are just about the same ESPECIALLY IF YOU PLANNING TO USE A LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR.
THE BIDDING PROCESS WILL BE ABOUT THE SAME AS IF YOU USED A DESIGNER but YOU WILL BE THE ONE ANSWERING QUESTIONS FROM THE BIDDERS.
Warnings and Caveats:
If you ask contractors to bid on your project the only way to get accurate numbers from each bidder is to have drawings so nothing is forgotten and each contractor has the same information.
If you use a contractor remember BIG changes in the middle of the job will cost you money. So take time to think through your design.
If you are doing the installation yourself design drawings will keep you on track and focused.
If you are doing the installation yourself, carefully think through what needs to be installed first, second, third etc. so you will not take 3 steps forward only to realize you have to back up a step and undo what you have already done!
DO NOT BUY PLANTS BEFORE YOUR DESIGN IS FINALIZED. You may be limiting your ultimate design and regret it later
A good primer on garden design is Understanding Garden Design (Timber Press) by Vanessa Gardner Nagel. She takes you through the process step by step. QUESTIONS???