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Old 08-23-2013, 09:06 PM   #1
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My house has no curb appeal. I have poor taste and am color challenged, and not very good with picking out plants.

I had a friend that was my savior and very good at this, but he passed and now I am on my own with this house. How would one go about finding someone to do this?
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Old 08-23-2013, 09:17 PM   #2
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Consult a local landscape designer. They usually work for larger firms, not the "free" folks at the local nursery. Most will offer design, install, and maintenance services. If you enjoy gardening but just don't have a good design sense, they can just do the design work for you and let you do the install and maintenance.

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Old 08-24-2013, 07:35 AM   #3
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As a landscape designer many years ago I worked independently, as head of design for a very high end nursery, and at the end folded my practice into a partnership with a landscape architect. At that point I was doing a lot of outdoor landscape structure design.

At the nursery I did the same work and was not forced to use the materials we had if not appropriate so I would not rule out that possibility but someone independent might be a better choice for you. I suppose some nurseries with landscape designers on staff do so to sell plant materials. I am not sure that is so bad?

Your independent nursery may not have design staff but a nice list of people they know good do work. Same with a landscape material supplier. Your reference section at the library may have a list and if your community has an arborist they will know of people too.

Here in Illinois there is a master gardener program and to be certified the people have to know plants that will go well. Some could be landscape designers if the wanted.

If you cannot find some designers with a local Google search there are associations for landscape designers and landscape architects. If you see a design you like, stop and ask who did it and seek out word of mouth referrals. Most of my work came from referrals.

I disagree that most designers do the installations. I did not do much for anything of size and had landscape contractors to execute designs. Some landscape contractors have basic design sense or could refer you to designers they have done work for as well.

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Old 08-24-2013, 07:40 AM   #4
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Just one pet peeve. There is a big difference, interior or exterior, between a trained designer or architect and a decorator. Anybody can call themselves the latter. A design professional can execute drawings for you and for all systems you may need like irrigation, lighting, grading, waterscapes, hardscapes, and planting plans.
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:26 PM   #5
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While you decide what expert to see have some answers ready for that person. How much time are you willing to invest in upkeep or maintenance or do you enjoy working outside. Are there any pretty trees or shrubs in your neighborhood you admire? Do you want things that stay green all year or do you mind trees and shrubs that lose their leaves in the winter. Do you want your yard open or do you want privacy or some screening along the property line? Do you have irrigation or do you need drought resistance plants?
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:06 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input!! Always appreciated. Some people have a flair for bringing together colors and textures and plants. Me I want inexpensive, needs as little care as possible and very pleasing to the eye.

When I try searching the web or books I find McMansions with BIG$$$ greenery, not what I am looking for.

I know it is a difficult question to ans but what would be a ball park cost estimate for the designer? I want someone to pick a paint and trim color, make suggestions as to shutters, lights or such to dress the place up and add some simple landscaping. This would be a 1400 sq ft house on an 80 foot lot. Do they charge commission, hourly or by the job?

I will start poking around and see what I come up with. JIm

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Old 08-24-2013, 10:41 PM   #7
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If you are comfortable taking reasonably accurate measurements, and you can get your hands on a 100' tape, you can save yourself some money measuring and scaling your plot to paper. 1/8":1' is typical for many landscape designs. Yours might fit with 1/4":1.

Somebody has to do this and position the house on the plot, show existing plants, sidewalks, driveways, fences, structures, etc. Show where water spickets are located. If you can, it will save the designer a fair amount of time. I would have checked a few of your dimensions to make sure you were consistent.

If there is any chance you have buried utilities you should call your free utility locator service and transfer there findings to your scaled drawing.

Sometimes it is handy to pay the small charge for a copy of your plot as filed with your building department to have a starting point for your scaled drawing.

You might as well get a comprehensive soil test out of the way as well. They are not expensive and could save you a lot in fertilizer costs and failed plant material. A soil label will give you instructions on how to take and mark samples from different areas of your yard.

As you are doing, continue to list what kinds of plants and other landscape elements you think you would like to see. Do you really need or want turfgrass for example. Do think about your budget for this in terms of installation and long term maintenance. For example, do you want something you can maintain yourself or are you prepared to hire a landscape maintenance company. Can you spring for larger trees and shrubs initially in return for lower maintenance costs? Etc.

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