15 Questions to Consider Before
Calling a Landscape Designer

Planning a landscape project? Ask these essential questions before hiring a designer for guidance on your next outdoor project.
9/20/2023 • Guest post by Kimberly Leja Martinez from Living Spaces Outdoor Design.
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We all know social media is an endless highlight reel that only shows the biggest and the best. Landscaping projects are no exception. Even my instagram page is guilty of showing off the larger projects.

My passion, however, actually lies in creating well thought out small spaces. Pittsburgh has no shortage of small, hilly yards, so unique creative design is always required. While feng shui is something every designer brings, small spaces demand just as much planning if not more.

That being said, ask yourself these 15 questions before planning an appointment with a landscape designer.

How much do you want to invest in your project?

Budget is always the first and most important question to ask yourself. Even if you don’t know where to start, it’s a good idea to have some kind of number in your head that you’re comfortable with. Often clients want to phase in the project over 2-3 years. To do so, that requires the project to be designed in away that allows for logical phases.

For example a lot of people want a fire place in their backyard but it’s not always at the top of the list. If designed on the edge of patio it’s fairly easy to add on later. However, if the fire place is in the middle of the patio it will require a large portion of your existing patio to be pulled up for construction and then installed again.

Moral of the story: No one wants to pay for something twice- especially if there was nothing wrong with it in the first place.

Do you plan to eat outside or is entertaining space?

Setting a table outside is the ultimate outdoor experience for many people and it’s often their first go to thought regarding an outdoor space, but’s important you need to have with yourself.

Are you really going to sit in the heat and sun and enjoy a meal with family? Or is your outdoor space for entertaining? Are you going to sit around a fire pit? Do you see yourself enjoying a morning cup of coffee outside? Do you work from home and you want to spend some of those long days outside?

a Full grass lawn surrounding a patio

What kind of furniture do you want?

This question ties into the first. If you’re eating outside do you need space for a 4 person table or an 8 person table? Will you need bar seating around a kitchen area? Do you plan to have a couple of chair or do we need room for a sectional?

Too often furniture will be squeezed onto a patio that just doesn’t fit the space, negatively affecting the flow of people in during gatherings. Sometimes the patio is really too small. Other times it just has the wrong furniture in the wrong place.

What kind of features are most important to you and which can you do without?

We all love to dream, and dreaming about spending time with family outside is no exception, but when it comes to investing in your outdoor space some features might be out of range for your budget and for the size of your space. It’s important to determine which items on your list are “must haves” and which ones are “nice to have.” If you are at a loss here then sitting down with an experienced designer or installer can help you develop an appropriate budget to plan out the space efficiently.

Have you noticed any issues with water drainage?

Water is an incredibly destructive force, whether it’s sitting water or erosion. It’s important to discuss these issues during the initial meeting with a designer. If you’re meeting with them in July they might not be able to tell that 3 months earlier in March your backyard was partially submerged. You must include every detail you can.

Have you noticed any issues with water drainage?

Still stumped on what to do after reading this article? Even if you are not sure you’re ready to move forward and meet with a designer, it’s okay to give them a call. With the help of technology today, a designer like myself can meet with you remotely and answer your questions.

If you’re ready to move forward and set up an in person appointment after that initial call then perfect! But if you need time to think about it than that’s okay too! At the end of the day we have the same goal for all our clients: help them create the backyard of their dreams for their family and friends for years to come.

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