You’ve decided on who you’re going to hire for your landscape designer. What is that process? I’m going to try to explain it to you.

You’re prepared and ready to go. When you decide on who is going to be your landscape designer, you need to sit down with that person for at least an hour; give them at least an hour of your time. Make sure that they come in your home and see your style; that’s very important. Also, if you have kids or dogs, it’s always good for them to meet them, too, because they just get a sense of really who you are, and what your home is really like.

Then, have a list of goals and what you really want to accomplish; just make sure that you have maybe some Pinterest photos. Don’t throw a hundred photos from Pinterest to the designed; because if it’s a good designer, they’re going to ask you lots of questions about your goals, your lifestyle, and what you’re looking for. Okay? A few pictures are great, though. They’re going to want to see a few pictures because that gives them an idea, and you actually spent some time to do it, so that’s actually really important.

Have a site plan or a plan survey for your landscape design; depending on what region you come from, they call it different things.

It literally is a document that shows your house on the lot line, aerial view, with all the dimensions and grades. Grades are important. If there are no grades, then that’s fine; they’re good and they can figure it out. If you have that for them, that’s great; it’s just showing respect, and then they don’t have to go out and hand-measure everything. You know? Because they’re already going to have to hand-measure where the trees are, and not all of them show trees, or if something else has been added to the house. Basically, from there, you just have a nice discussion with your landscape designer. They should be asking you a bunch of questions, walking through the property, and getting some ideas.

The landscape process: I might do it a little bit differently compared to some others. I like to get that plat, put my base-plan in my design form, and then I like to give options on the layout, and I think that’s really key. Your landscape designer: You don’t meet with them one time, write them a check, and then the next time you meet with, “Here’s your design.” No. It’s custom to you, and a lot of people can’t visualize. So, what I like to do is I like to have a few layouts. Maybe, if you’re not comfortable with how you want it laid out, like the patio shape, curvilinear or linear bed, it’s a good way to start out; you can reflect that, too. Then, plant selection comes later. Colors, products, pavers versus concrete: Those are all things later that come in.

I will tell you one of the most important things: Your landscape designer should be asking you what your budget is. Sometimes, I know that’s really hard to come up with because you don’t know how much things cost, but that person should be able to say, “Okay. If you want this, this and this, it should fit your budget; but if you want to add to it, you should budget a little bit more.” Then, you need to speak to your designer about how much you really can afford because that’s key, because you don’t want to waste your time – or her time or his time. You want a design – whether it’s phased-out – but you want a design that actually meets your budget, plus your needs.