Usually the owner of a property for a new project gives us some rough ideas of their landscape interests and requirements. ("I would like a bigger patio area. I'd like an outdoor kitchen and more shade by the pool.") Before picking up any of our design tools, we strive to listen carefully to them. We realize that they are the ones that are going to be living with this garden. It has to work for them within their style of living. We also want to take into consideration the home's style of architecture and its interior design. We can create an outdoor space that flows out graciously from the inside. We take all of this information and combine it with our many years of experience and passion for the artistic aspects of gardening to produce a preliminary AutoCAD landscape design plan. Unlike a 'design-only' company, we are in-tune with what landscape items really cost. We usually give our clients some preliminary numbers before we begin the design process. Once the plan is created, we offer detailed and itemized prices.
Here's our Landscape Design Process :
Initial on site interview and discussion (no charge):
Enter into design agreement (refundable)
Measure site and take digital pictures.
Prepare an Auto-cad landscape design plan and an itemized estimate
Present landscape design plan and estimate to client
Make revisions if necessary
Enter into written agreement and schedule work
Complete masonry and Hard-scape (all done in house)
Complete Plantings and Soft-scape (all done in house)
Complete work and issue warranties
When reviewing a landscape design-build portfolio, one may not realize the critical , yet unseen, elements that support it. The basic foundations that are mandatory for a successful landscape are the three items most often overlooked:
Without good positive drainage, plant roots rot, house foundations suffer, mold and moss grow instead of the desired plantings and the garden may become a muddy mess to walk through. There are two types of drainage systems: surface and subterranean. We have had some sites where we have had to install large underground French drains that pick up waters moving horizontally through the soils much like an underground river. Most of the time in San Diego, surface drains are enough, but if there are the telltale signs of subterranean water, then we can surely help solve these challenges as well.
A garden with good soil preparation is like a home built on a good strong foundation. If the soil preparation is done thoroughly and properly, a new garden will mature quickly and stay healthy for years to come with a lot less work on your part.
Most of San Diego soils are ancient ocean floor strata that haven't seen the light of day for millions of years until some builder comes along with a bulldozer. What this means is that there is usually a high salt content and a definitive lack of organic materials. We perform an onsite soil analysis which checks the texture and Ph of the soil. After this is done, we proceed in tilling the proper amendments into the soil. This usually involves digging up 6"-12" of the existing soil with shovels, electric jackhammers, and small bobcats with teeth. Some of the amendments that we use are: organic natural compost, peat moss, bone and blood meal, time released fertilizers, organic fertilizers and gypsum for clay soils.
CONTROL OF THE WATER
Applying the right amount of water to the plant material at the right time is at the heart of our arid climate challenge. With little rain and using drought tolerant plants that will rot easily if over-watered, we have a delicate situation before us. Each part of your garden has a small but important micro-climate. A shady northern side of a home is cooler than the south or west side. What we do is divide the garden according to its micro-climates and water each area with a separate circuit of irrigation. For example: we might water that shady north side every 4th day in the summer and water the southern side every other day. We also divide the circuits or valves in the irrigation by the types of plants. A citrus orchard will need to be watered weekly where as a shade garden of azaleas or camellias might need water every other day in the summer.
Having a master-plan created by a professional will not only save you money in the long run, but will offer you a garden space that you'll enjoy for years to come.