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Outdoor Living Design: 6 Modern Outdoor Elements to Set Your Next Project Apart

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Whether it’s a small plant installation and some mulching to spruce up your front yard or an entire outdoor living area being built in your backyard, having a landscape project completed is exciting.

Maybe you’re in the very early stages (still daydreaming) and are thinking about calling to schedule a landscape consultation. Or, maybe you’ve already scheduled that consultation and you’re waiting for your upcoming appointment.

There are some really valuable things that you can do now, as you wait or prepare to have that meeting. Over the years, we have found that the better prepared that homeowners are for that initial consultation, the smoother it all will go for them.

Of course, you might not know what goes into that preparation.

That’s why we’ve rounded up this list of important things to do between making your appointment and actually meeting with a landscape designer. Taking these steps will help streamline that meeting and help ensure your finished landscape design is in line with your wants and needs.

1. Go Outside and Look at the Space: What’s Your Main Objective?

You obviously have a reason why you decided to schedule a landscape consultation in the first place. But have you really thought about the details? It can help to go outside and spend some time in the space. Think about your goals and expectations.

We’ve rounded up some questions that will help us gather vital information about your project. Obviously not every question will apply to the project you want completed, but having as much information gathered as possible can really help.

Keep in mind the more information you can provide, the better. No detail is typically too small!

  • What’s your current situation? Are you just trying to spruce up an area as you get the house ready for an upcoming sale? Or, have you just moved in and plan to be here long term? Maybe you’ve been living here a long time and are just ready for a change. This background information can help in the decision making process.
  • Are you looking to solve or correct an issue? If you are, providing as much information about that issue and how long you've been experiencing it can really help. Was it a pre-existing issue from when you bought the house or is it new? Is it somehow the result of other work you've done on the property?
  • Do you have pets that make use of the space and might negatively impact installation work if that pet isn’t taken into consideration?
  • Do you have specific likes and dislikes that we should know about? Are there certain materials, plants, or even colors that are definite favorites—or, on the flipside, choices we should never use?
  • Are there young children at home? Is there anyone with a disability or perhaps older family members who need special considerations for things like walkway width or riser heights on steps?
  • If it’s an outdoor living area, who will use the space? Will it primarily be your immediate family or do you often host company? What type of outdoor furniture do you plan to put there? How big is your dining table?
patio design with children and fire pit

2. Get Inspired: Have Photos Ready

It’s not uncommon for homeowners to feel as though they’re struggling with expressing a specific look or style that they’re interested in. This is where photos can really help! Take time to browse online sources, magazines, and our portfolio to gather images that you like. A photo is often the best way to help create a bridge between the ideas in your head and what actually ends up in the landscape design.

Sometimes homeowners even show us neighbors’ homes. Your inspiration might come from work that was already completed on a neighbor’s property. Of course, it’s not like you have to replicate everything your neighbor did, but showing us details and features that you like about other projects helps us to get a sense of your style. Maybe you like a few details of one project and other details in another. This is all very helpful information for the landscape designer on your project.
front yard landscaping ideas with paver walkway
Having these images ready-to-go at your landscape consultation appointment will allow us to be crystal clear on exactly what you’re looking for. It helps ensure that we’re all on the same page and that the landscape design we create will be fully in line with your style and preferences.

3. Be Prepared for the Appointment with Relevant Paperwork or Details

This is a small but important step that can help move your landscape consultation forward.

If your landscape project might include fencing, a deck, or a patio, then it is best to be prepared for the meeting with a copy of the property’s plot/survey showing the dwelling and the related offsets to the property lines or easements on-site.

This is going to be vital information to the landscape design and being prepared with it ahead of time will help streamline the entire process.Backyard landscape with deck, patio and fire pit

4. Have a Budget Range in Mind

We know that people like to keep their budget close to their chest. People often feel as though they’ll get ripped off in some way if they’re upfront about disclosing their budget.

But the truth is, withholding budget details will only hurt you. It will make it nearly impossible for your landscape designer to design your project. It does no good to come back with a design that is totally out of your range.

Materials cost what they cost. But there are things that we can do to work within the confines of a budget once we know what those parameters are. One of the most challenging aspects of any landscape project is ensuring that budget and expectations align. For instance, you might want a natural stone patio but have a budget that’s more in line with pavers. In order to work within your budget, we can find a paver that you really love (and that maybe even mimics natural stone).

At the end of the day, in order to successfully achieve the end goal (a project that you love AND that is in line with your budget), we have to know what we’re working with.patio-fire-pit-lighting-3

5. Be Clear and Prioritize Your Goals

Throughout the entire process, it really helps to be as clear as possible. Sometimes people are intentionally vague because they don’t really know what they want or they haven’t quite figured out what they plan to spend. But when push comes to shove, the more clear that you can be, the more likely the landscape design will align with your wants and needs.

After all, our landscape designers are amazing at what they do, but they can’t read minds. They want to make you happy—there’s nothing we love more about our job—but we do need your help.

That also means taking some time to prioritize your objectives. Maybe there are other projects on your property that you’d like to see completed in the future. But give us a clear sense of your timeline. What are your key objectives right now? And what projects are you looking to take care of down the road? This information can help us produce a design that’s perfect for you now.

Getting Your Landscape Plans Underway

The landscape consultation is an exciting meeting because it’s the start of getting your plans underway! And the better prepared that you are for this meeting, the better the outcome will be for everyone. You’ll walk away feeling even more excited about the next steps.

As you prepare for this meeting, let us know if we can answer any questions for you that will help you to better prepare. One of the most exciting aspects of our work is helping our clients realize their landscaping dreams. Whether it’s a small planting project or something larger scale, we love taking those ideas from dream to reality!

Are you ready for a new landscape at your Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA home? If so, request your consultation, get your customized plan, and relax as you get the royal treatment.

Request a Landscape Consultation

Krisjan Berzins - Owner, CEO

Since 1997, Krisjan has led the Kingstowne team with one simple philosophy, treat every customer like the “only” customer. His passionate pursuit of impeccable customer service has resulted in 24 successful years and a thriving company with over 85 employees, helping thousands of homeowners in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area get what they want -- a worry-free property they can be proud of.