Tips for Your First Design Meeting

Thinking about starting a project with us? Great! We'd love to work with you! Whether you're building or renovating a new home, wanting a new design after years of the same view, or just adding to the existing landscape, we can help. Our years of experience and passion for even the most challenging projects make us experts at turning your dreams into reality. But before you sit down to meet with a member of our team, there are some questions you can consider and ideas to start brainstorming so that everyone gets the most out of that first meeting. We'll break this down into two categories: evaluating what you have, and envisioning what you want.
 

Evaluating What You Have

Start by taking a walk around your property and thinking about how you interact with it now. If you aren't yet living in the home we will be working with, for some of these questions you can think about your current home instead.

How do you currently spend time in your garden?
It's okay if the answer is "I don't". At this point we're identifying both the good and the bad in your current landscape, and later we'll start brainstorming for the future.

How does your outdoor space make you feel?
If it makes you feel nothing, that's an important answer too! We want you to be able to connect with the design we create together, so if that's not happening now, it's helpful for us to know that.

What makes your property unique?
This question captures anything that is important to you personally, or anything that makes it easy or difficult to landscape. Maybe it has rich family history, or maybe there's a weird spot in the back that never quite dries out. Don't worry if you don't know much about how easy or difficult it is to landscape your property - as part of our design process we conduct a thorough site evaluation to catch as many details as possible. At this starting phase it is helpful if you know some about the physical and practical features of the property, but it's the personal details that will really get the conversation moving.

What do you love about your landscape as it is?
This can be a favorite nook, plants that thrive, color combinations that suit you - anything big or small that makes you smile. If you are moving to a new home, you can think about both your current garden and your future home.

What do you dislike about your landscape?
Again on this one, if you are planning a project for a house you haven't moved into yet, you can think both about your current property and the future one. We are interested in both the specifics of an actual site and in your past experiences in the landscape.
 

Envisioning What You Want

Now for the fun part! It's time to dream. If you're contacting us, you've probably already gotten started on ideas for the future. Everyone is different in how they approach this. For some people, this process got started with a few clicks on Pinterest or Houzz that turned into an inspiration board (You should follow us on both!), and now you have to start thinking about how those ideas relate to your practical needs. Others start from a specific need - maybe you're expecting a baby and you need a child-friendly yard, or maybe the driveway layout just doesn't work for you. Still others have no idea what they want yet, they just know it's time for something new. The questions below cover both practical concerns and abstract visions to make sure you think through the project thoroughly, no matter where you started.

What scale of project are you interested in?
Is this a total site overhaul, a backyard redesign, a blank slate new construction, or something else?

How do you want to be able to use your property?
Designing a space for quiet personal use is much different from designing for large parties or neighborhood games of tag.

What features are you interested in including?
Outdoor kitchens, vegetable gardens, pergolas, hot tubs, play sets, fire pits, water features, privacy screens - all of these kinds of things need to be considered, because each requires different kinds of space use. You can browse through our gallery or take virtual tours of some of our favorite projects to get ideas for creative features to consider.

How do you want to feel in your new landscape?
Are you looking for a place of tranquility or energy? Do you prefer the cozy comfort of small spaces or the endless possibilities of an open view? There are no right or wrong answers on this one - this is where we get to know your personality so we can create a space that is uniquely "you".

What are your maintenance expectations?
All gardens require some level of maintenance, but we understand that our clients will have different levels of interest and ability in gardening, and we are happy to design with you in mind. Don't forget that we offer first-class maintenance and mowing packages, so if you don't want to be limited by maintenance considerations, check out our services.

Are you interested in any kind of specialty landscape?
This includes (but isn't limited to) native plants, pollinator-friendly selections, edible gardening, meditation, cutting gardens, and special needs accommodations. We can incorporate some of these aspects into any landscape design, so don't be afraid to ask even if you don't want your entire garden focused on one of these specialties. The links in the list take you to other blog posts about each topic that show how we can work these ideas into any project.

Do you have any plants you absolutely love or can't stand?
Be sure to remember allergies on this one! You can also think about favorite colors or scents if you aren't familiar with a huge number of plants.

Do you have images you've collected of gardens you love?
We love inspiration boards and books, whether they're on Pinterest or in a binder full of magazines and printed photos. As artists, our designers prefer to use images for inspiration instead of copying another project, but seeing a collection of ideas that catch your eye help us learn more about your tastes and imagine possibilities that fit you perfectly.

And finally, what is your budget?
While we'd all love to say the sky's the limit, that's usually not true. We do frequently install projects in phases over several years, so keep that in mind if the estimate on your dream garden is out of your reach to install in a single season.

After thinking through these questions, you can come to your first design meeting prepared for a productive, exciting conversation. We ask all prospective design clients to complete this questionnaire before meeting - it covers mostly the same points we just discussed here. We look forward to meeting with you to start your project! Call us at 317.251.GROW or fill out an online contact form, to get started, and in the meantime check out our portfolio for inspiration.


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