Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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New Front Yard: Working with a Landscape Designer

When it came to figuring out what to do with my new front yard, I knew I needed help. I am a recovering black thumb who doesn’t love to garden. However, I need a garden because I don’t want my house to be ugly, nor for my neighbors to hate me. I contacted my friend Jennifer because she’s a landscape designer and asked if she could come up with a plan for my yard.

She started by asking me what my vision for the yard is and to send her pictures of gardens and plants that I like. I shared this checklist for my yard:

  • Drought-tolerant plants
  • Native plants
  • Works with my climate
  • Low maintenance
  • Modern look
  • Enhances architecture of the home
  • Bright colors and unusual textures
  • Unique garden, like nothing you’ve seen before

Jennifer then suggested that I send her pictures of gardens and plants that I liked. When I saw this picture of a modern garden over at Plastolux designed by Rob Steiner, it looked like heaven in a landscape; it’s the feeling of what I wanted in my yard.

See? Totally unusual textures and bright colors. Lots of succulents and interesting plants. I then provided her the measurements of my yard and the house: I dutifully took my tape measure and looked at my lot plans to provide her with the right numbers.

The landscape designer came over to my house to gauge the scale of the project and to note any features that we’d want to highlight, or issues we needed to disguise. She looked at my house, its mansard roof, symmetrical architecture, and darker colors and suggested ways to balance the heaviness of the mansard roof and make the house pop with color.

Working with a landscape designer has been fantastic. Jennifer was able to take the pictures I selected of gardens I liked and tell me a.) what the plants were and b.) if they would work in or climate. A lot of the plants I really liked turned out to be tropical and desert plants, and definitely not hardy enough to survive our cold winters. Since my landscape designer is a professional, she was able to take the colors and textures I liked and come up with plants that would give the same feeling, and also make it through the winter.

As far as pricing, I think you would be surprised at how affordable working with a landscape designer can be. She gave me the option of just a consultation, a customized plan after a consultation, or some version of full service that could include ordering from a nursery, picking up or having the plants delivered, prepping the site, and then planting all the new trees and flowers. Pricing always depends on the experience of the designer, what services you need, how much work you’re willing to do yourself, and where you’re located. Consultations are usually by hour and start between $50-150 an hour. Again, it does depend on the designer. Just ask! In my mind, it’s worth consulting with a landscape designer just so you don’t make any costly mistakes either in the layout or picking the wrong plants for your climate. Plants are so expensive and you do not want to have to pay for them several times trying to get it right.

The plan she came up with is so beautiful, I can’t wait to share it with you next time!

Have you ever worked with a landscape designer? Have you ever wanted to?


Other posts you might enjoy…

New Front Yard: Where to Start

Big Backyard Plans

Gardening for the Overly Ambitious and Minimally Informed

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Comments (7)

  1. Pingback: Front Yard Landscaping First Steps

  2. Lanier Hollingsworth 05/24/2012 at 8:20 am

    This Saturday, May 26th, all Calloway’s Nurseries in DFW and both Cornelius Nurseries in Houston will have a free Basic Landscape Design Garden Clinic at 10:15 am where we will walk you through the basics of landscaping your Texas terrain into a beautiful and inviting garden. From soil health and preparation, to a simple landscape design, to selecting the perfect plants… we’ll help you get started. The first 40 attendees at each store will receive a free Garden Design packet. Read more about it at

  3. Amanda 05/21/2012 at 6:58 pm

    I think it’s totally smart to work with am expert when it comes to landscape design, especially if you don’t know that much about plants. A killer yard can add major value to your home. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  4. Lucky Red Hen 05/21/2012 at 2:06 pm

    Having done some trade with a Landscape Architect university student (he’s new at this and needed dinner here and there), I agree that the knowledge a professional can bring to your project the more money you’ll save in the long run doing it right the first time.

    We planted about 5 years ago, having had our landscaper throw out some names of plants and suggestions of where to put them. He was NOT a plant guy (thus the encouragement of hiring someone who knows what they’re talking about), so we ended up with plants that outgrew where they were planted, odd color choices (because it’s what was at the nursery), and weird shapes that had blotchy flow. We have deer who come buffet on our yard most every night and a little girl who doesn’t fancy having a bee/wasp attracting bush right by the front door.

    Knowing what plants will work in your climate is the MOST IMPORTANT element, then design. If you design something lovely with plants that won’t flourish, you’ll end up with less money and back to the drawing board.

    Can’t wait to see what you end up with, SQUEE!!!

  5. Alma Loveland 05/21/2012 at 9:40 am

    I want to work with a landscape designer, but I just assume it is out of my budget. Is it affordable?

    • Carina 05/21/2012 at 2:17 pm

      Alma, I just updated the article to talk about pricing!

  6. Erica 05/21/2012 at 7:47 am

    Even though I used to work at a plant nursery in college, I still used a landscape designer when we were at an impasse with our house’s yard. They have years of education and lots of great ideas. Can’t wait to see your pretty new landscape!