Your house is likely to give garbled messages if your guests cannot differentiate between the front door and the family entry. Overgrown foundation plantings, a spotty lawn, or trees that need pruning or removing will also speak volumes. If a walkway leads straight from the driveway to the front door, that conveys a message, too—Hurry along; do not tarry. Bordering the walkway—at least on one side—with a garden of varied foliage and color says, Slow down and take notice. And a square or rectangular landing before the front door provides a gracious place to greet visitors or to say good-bye.
One way to avoid communication errors is to employ a landscape architect or designer to create a master plan. The plan will give the homeowner a road map for each area of the property, ensuring that all areas connect with and flow into each other and provide year-round interest and seasonal color. While you may decide not to tackle all areas at once, your master plan will give you the information you need in terms of both landscape and hardscape (walkways, walls, fences, and other inanimate objects). This will help you avoid the frustration and expense of putting in plant material and hardscaping that turns out to be the wrong thing in the wrong place… and will give your property an appealing voice.
When you’re interviewing a prospective landscape architect or designer, ask about his or her credentials (membership in ASLA, the American Society of Landscape Architects, or APLD, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, is a plus) and ask to see a portfolio of recently finished jobs and references from clients. Some of these experts charge a consultation fee in addition to design fees. Make sure the designer or architect will be on site to supervise installation work. Some designers and architects have their own installation crew; others bid out the installation of the project to landscape contractors.
Landscape designer Emily Kelting is an owner and partner in GreatScapes Landscape Services, based in New Canaan, Connecticut. She is a member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the New Canaan Alliance of Business Professionals. She can can be reached at 203.972.9447. www.great-scapes.com