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How do you start a project that you may not know much about? The American Mystic Edgar Cayce said, “Start from where you are.” I will add, “and that’s just fine.” The following steps are laid out here to act as a Garden Landscaping Guidelines to fill in information that you might not yet know.

Also, feel free to utilize our Request a Quote Form to send us your thoughts on the priorities and design preferences for your project.


Garden Landscaping Guidelines

1. Make a decision that you want your environment to be different.

It might start something like this:

You have looked at that rusty shed for the last time. It’s gotta go. Say, that area would be perfect for a flagstone patio with a table and chairs. It’s under the canopy of that lovely shade tree so it’s naturally cool.

Your water bill frightens you when you open it.  It’s been climbing steadily over the years. Sod is the single most thirsty plant in most gardens.  Grass takes an enormous amount of maintenance compared to other plants in a garden and it is expensive to maintain.  The use of herbicides and pesticides are prevalent with lawns too. You are tired of the upkeep and expense and you’ve noticed that your feet have an odd color to them since you’ve been walking barefoot on your lawn.

You decide you are ready for a change.

2. Determine the area you want to change.

Are you getting ready to sell so you need curb appeal in the front yard?  Are your neighbors giving you dirty looks so you better get some curb appeal in the front yard?  Do you need an oasis in the backyard?

3. Decide on a budget.

Know how much you want to spend BEFORE you get started.  This will keep you reined in and help you make good choices throughout the project.

4. Start looking around at what you like in other people’s yards.

Ask if you can take pictures of those yards for your own project.  How about that path you saw in the gardening magazine? Mark the page.  Keep a file of things you like.

5. Ask the people whose gardens you liked who they used.

Find out more about these contractors.  Check their records with the CA State Contractors License Board and BBB or other qualifying organizations.  Check out their websites, talk with them on the phone or correspond by email.

6. After preliminary company research, set up appointments with them at your site.

WALKABOUTS – Walk your project with them.  Find out if they share your sensibilities about your project.

VISION – Can they “get” your vision?  If they can, can they enhance it? You’ll discover this by talking with them.

COMMUNICATION – Can you talk to them easily?  Do you feel like they are listening to you or is their agenda first?  If they aren’t listening to you now, they won’t later.

7. Choose a contractor.

Pick someone with whom you can communicate freely and easily.  This may be someone with whom you will be speaking for a few days to months, depending on the size of your project.  It is a definite bonus if you like them and you must be able to trust them.

8. Design phase

Show all your ideas to your contractor.

Discuss how to incorporate them.  Your contractor will have ideas as well as garden landscaping guidelines too.  Go with your contractor’s ideas and guidelines if you like, but only if they are what you want.

The contractor will come up with a design, designs or sketches for you to review.  It depends on the contractor.

Our process usually involves the designer and clients creating a sketch or bubble diagram together. This diagram is used for a basic plan. This process is included in the consultation price.

Other designers can offer full-color detailed design options so you have several looks from which to choose.  They will have their own pricing for that service.

You may have a complex element or landscape that requires a detailed plan, such as a stone staircase among terraced beds.

When having irrigation systems installed, it is always helpful to have an As-Built Plan for that if nothing else.

The more information you have on how your garden was constructed, the easier it can be to make additions, changes and repairs in the future.

9. Planning

Take the design plan you chose and have a meeting with the contractor about how and when the project will be done. Check Garden Landscaping Guidelines.

If you have particular dates you need to have accommodated, now’s the time to let us know. For example, your daughter is getting married in June and wants the service and reception in the backyard.  You have from now until then to recreate a “mini Versailles.”

Pick dates of completion for certain tasks.  Ex: Hardscape was done by May 10. Fountain installed by May 20.  Irrigation is done by May 30. Plants installed by June 5.

Payment Schedule
Work phase completion dates will usually correspond to payment dates. You will want to budget for those payments so your project stays on schedule.

Plant Refugees
Are there plants you want to be saved from the demolition?  Tell your contractor so they can designate an interim nursery for them on or off-site.

10. Get ready for the change.

You may be excited about the project but remember, this is change.  Energy is going to be shifting.

When that rusted shed is out, you may feel a sense of relief.  When the declining plum tree is gone, you may feel a little disoriented.  These are natural reactions. Talk to your contractor about it if you like.  We welcome this kind of dialogue because it helps us understand how you are being affected by the work.  We can then be sensitive to your needs regarding it.

11. Work commences

Hardscape for larger scale projects means demolition.  It’s going to look bad for a while until all the subterranean hardscape is completed. It’s like the old adage says, “Sometimes it’s going to be worse before it gets better.”

12. Work proceeds

Once the hardscape and piping are in, plants will start populating your landscape.  You will begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You may find yourself breathing more deeply.  It is the plants – It’s all that extra oxygen they are producing.

Drip irrigation will be finished being installed and all irrigation, drip and spray, will be tested and adjusted.  The irrigation clock must be programmed. Remember to write down the program for easy future reference.

13. Work winds down – Mulching & clean up

The ground covering of your choice will be laid for multiple reasons.

AESTHETICS – The most obvious reason is that mulch unifies a landscape.  It adds another texture.

MOISTURE RETENTION – Mulch helps to retain soil moisture which means less watering has to be done.  Well, the hydrated soil is healthier, just like people are when we have the optimum intake of fluids.

EARTH BLANKET – Mulch acts as an insulator for the plant’s roots.

FUTURE FOOD – When the mulch, if it’s a wood product, breaks down, it feeds the soil.  Instant free food for your plants.

The contractor and crew will check all the work against the contract to be sure everything is completed.  Any leftover debris or materials will be removed from the site.

14. Walkthrough

You and your contractor will then do another Walk About.  Now is the time to ask any questions you have. Comment on what your contractor says.  You may come up with a Punch List of more things to do. That’s ok.

Seeing the finished product may further stimulate your creativity and you can now see more possibilities for your new environment or the remainder of the yard left undone.

15. Completion

The Punch List is completed.  The last payment made. It’s time to enjoy your new space.

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