All too often the landscape architect or landscape designer is called upon as the newly constructed house is nearly complete. Typically, the homeowner calls and says they are nearing completion of their dream home and would like to meet and discuss a landscape design for their property. I arrive to the meeting and the excited homeowners are usually hoping to surround their new home with beautiful gardens. At this point, it’s the landscape architects or landscape designers job to do their best to create an aesthetically pleasing landscape with whatever is given to them, right? The question is why? Why do so many projects evolve that way? When I arrive onsite for the first time, I often see more challenges than I’d like to admit. Essentially, every contractor who has come before the landscape designer has already had an impact on the future success of the landscape…..and that’s usually not a good thing. Successful landscapes are best planned long before or at least in conjunction with the work that comes before the landscape. General contractors, architects and homeowners don’t often give the area beyond the walls of the structure much thought until the 11th hour and that is a mistake. What I usually see when I arrive on site for the first time is enough to give me a headache. By bringing in a landscape designer or landscape architect early in the process, everyone benefits. Where the homeowner, architect, general contractor or builder will benefit is with all the experience a landscape architect or landscape designer will bring to a project when we are not only consulted in the early planning stages but throughout the construction process. Consulting a landscape designer earlier in the process would have prevented a propane tank right by the side door.
The problems I see, in regards to the landscape, when I arrive to a new construction project too late in the process are similar from project to project. Extreme soil compaction, a non existent soil profile, contractors trucks parked all over the property, construction debris and cement washouts not controlled, unplanned well casing placements, poorly placed mechanicals, footing drain leaders placed too low and foundations sitting too deep in the ground are just a few common problems we see.
Consulting with a landscape architect or landscape designer early in the building process and having at least a basic landscape design in place can help plan for and prevent these common mistakes. If the goal is to have a beautiful landscape to compliment the architecture, wouldn’t it be prudent to plan for all the other ‘stuff that always seem to end up in garden beds? For instance, well drillers aren’t landscape designers so they usually install the well in the middle of the front yard. Wouldn’t it make more sense to install the well where a future garden bed is planned?
These mature maples were important to the owner of the property. Unfortunately, there are 6 mature trees that are in decline due to the construction process. If lost, they will dramatically change the look and feel of the property.
Planning ahead, long before you’re thinking about the landscape, will give you the best chance for the garden of your dreams.