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 the help of a real 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.

modern garden landscape

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


Tina Fey with daughter

Tina Fey on Working Moms

Last month Tina Fey wrote an article in The New Yorker called “Confessions of a Juggler” all about working motherhood. She writes: “What is the rudest question you can ask a woman?"

House of Brinson

10 Design Blogs You Must Read

I attended the Alt Design Summit in SLC this week and bumped into many a blogger you should know about. What's even better? Is when you meet a wonderful blogger and they are lovely people to boot.