by Connie Oswald Stofko
“Don’t wait until April to call a landscaper if you’re hoping to have your landscape done in May,” said said Claire Brown, CNLP, president and designer at A Growing Business, 11554 Wyandale Rd., Springville.
That’s her first tip on what a gardener should do when working with a landscaper.
The earlier you call, the better.
“It would be awesome if people called in fall before the snow gets deep,” Brown said. That way, she explained, the landscaper can visit your property and actually see what is there now.
Gardeners may not think to call a landscaper in January when the yard is buried in snow, but January is still better than April.
“If the first visit can’t happen in January, you’ll still be on the list and the visit can happen as soon as the snow melts,” Brown said.
You never know what the weather will be like and that first visit could happen well before April. She noted that last winter was very mild and they did consultations all winter.
But if you don’t contact a landscaper until April, expect to wait months for work to begin.
Here are five more tips to keep in mind when you want to work with a landscaper.
Tip #2: Observe your yard
You can provide valuable information to your landscaper if you observe your yard over time, Brown said.
Where does the snow pile up when your driveway gets plowed? What area of your yard is really windy? What is the path that the deer take when they walk across your property?
“I can speculate on some of it,” Brown said, “but it’s better if the homeowner knows their yard.”
What if you just moved in to your home? While you might be tempted to quickly redo an existing landscape, it’s better to wait.
“If there is an existing landscape, and it’s not too horrendous, observe it for four seasons,” Brown advised. “You might find something you like.”
Especially if you have existing trees and shrubs, you don’t want to tear them out and start from scratch. That would be like giving your landscape a drastic haircut.
“There’s a shock to it,” Brown said, noting that it will take a long time for new trees and shrubs to grow in.
Besides, mature trees and shrubs are valuable. If you cut down a mature shrub and decided to replace it with a new specimen of the same size, it would be pricey.
Tip #3: Collect photos of what you like
Sometimes gardeners know what they want, but they can’t describe their vision.
Brown suggests taking pictures on garden walks or gathering pictures of landscapes online or even pulling over and snapping a photo of someone’s front yard that you like.
“That will give me an idea of what your taste is,” Brown said.
Tip #4: Think about your lifestyle
How do you want to use your space? If you have a patio, will you be cooking and eating there? Do you need an open area where kids can play? Do you need shade?
Brown said it’s important for her to know how you want to use your yard so that she can create a design that works for you.
Tip #5: Be honest about maintenance
“Honestly, what level of work do you want to put in, or what level of work do you want to pay to be done?” Brown asked. “That will affect the things that will be planted.”
When I write articles about an elaborate landscape on a garden walk, I often include information on how much time the homeowners put in maintaining the gardens. It’s a labor of love for many people, and they don’t mind putting in several hours a day during the growing season to keep their gardens looking wonderful. If that doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, let your landscaper know so she can design a landscape that needs less work to maintain.
Tip #6: Have all your decision-makers together when you meet
Sometimes the various members of a household have different opinions on what their redesigned landscape should be like, Brown said. The landscaper needs to get all those viewpoints before creating a plan. That’s why all the decision-makers in the household should be present when you meet with the landscaper.
“We like to make everyone happy,” Brown said.
For more information, contact Brown at 592-1491 or visit A Growing Business.