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» What is the difference between a fully-documented design and a speedy make-over?

» Why do I need a garden designer?

» When do I need a landscape designer?

» How long will it take?

» What - a liquidambar?

» The bottom line

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What is the difference between a fully-documented design and a speedy make-over?

A documented custom design is tailored to your personal lifestyle and the architecture of your home, seamlessly blending your indoor and outdoor spaces, coordinating materials, colors and other elements. Many Bay Area sites are challenging - sloped, angled, inaccessible or over-shadowed by surrounding buildings — requiring site-specific solutions that help to avoid costly mistakes. Consequently, design development may involve more thorough site investigation, take longer and cost more.

Speedy make-over is ideal for small spaces, typical urban front or back gardens, that measure 25 x 30 feet or similar and donít require complex or multi-level retaining elements or other structures.

Why do I need a garden designer?

Many homeowners enjoy tending their gardens as the seasons pass. A new garden or complete renovation, however, benefits from a professional designer’s special training. This yields more functional and aesthetic utilization of all your outdoor space.

Thoughtful integration of the natural elements of soil, water and plants with built elements -- stone, wood, concrete, metal or glass – produces a dynamic composition. A natural rhythm and harmony results when every object is proportionally balanced with a professional eye.
  • Paths and views flow effortlessly and unify house and garden
  • Carefully located seating areas, ornamental features and focal points invite exploration
  • Plants that thrive in your planting zone minimize maintenance and costly water use
Good design evokes the intangible spirit and character of each site. A professional has the experience and training to seek and identify these opportunities, transforming an ordinary or difficult site into an enchanted garden.

When do I need a landscape designer?

You wish to create space for your family’s functional needs:
  • a private place to read and relax
  • a safe haven for your children or pets
  • an outdoor kitchen, dining patio or place to hang the hammock
You need to solve a design dilemma that affords:
  • privacy and screening from your neighbor
  • a water feature to buffer the noisy street
  • shade from the hot afternoon sun or shelter from the ocean breeze
You dream of being transported to your favorite hideaway:
  • recreate that tropical retreat in your own backyard
  • surround yourself with Mediterranean scents of olives, lavenders and sages
You've bought a new home or relocated to the Bay Area and:
  • don’t know which plants flourish in your particular micro-climate
  • long to replace a thirsty lawn with drought-tolerant, low-maintenance plants
  • add ‘uumph’ or curb appeal with dazzling color, fragrance or texture
It’s a blank slate, a jungle, a maintenance nightmare; just where do you begin?

How long will it take?

Depending on the size and requirements of the site, a complete landscape design – including conceptual design, planting plan, and suggestions for the most appropriate design elements – usually is completed within 2 to 3 weeks following site assessment and measuring.

A small urban garden often can be transformed within 2 to 3 weeks after construction begins. Larger, more complex sites may take longer. Compared with the complexity of remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, your untamed garden becomes a wonderland within weeks.

What - a liquidambar?

Liquidambar recreates the seasons in your garden. Liquidambar styraciflua’s maple-like leaves in autumn turn from crisp green to brilliant purple-reds and gold. In winter when the leaves drop, the native American sweet gum’s wings and dangling seedpods animate the tree. (Beware the litter of spiky seedpods on bare feet or lawns; a round-leaved ‘Rotundiloba’ variety produces few seed balls.)

Moderate to fast-growing, Liquidambar leafs out early in spring after a short dormant winter; it requires little pruning when mature, and can be planted in groves or as tall screens.

The bottom line

For most of us, our home is the single largest investment we make in our lives. Yet many homeowners neglect a huge portion of their investment by under-utilizing the space outside. We all pay property tax on every square foot of our property; why give it to the weeds.
Consider these figures…
  • An average 2,500 sq. ft. (100'x25') Bay Area property today costs almost $1,000,000, which is $400 for every square foot of the property.
  • Your 1,500 sq. ft. home costs over $666 per square foot.
  • Remodeling a Bay Area home begins at $300-$350 per square foot.
  • The average cost for landscaping? Approximately $25-$40 per square foot.
  • A well-designed landscape increases the total value of your property by 15% to 20%.
  • The best investments? Trees, patios, decks, fountains and paths. You buy a tree for $150 and immediately it grows in value.

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