Hiring a landscape architect

bahaccaJune 26, 2012

How do you know when it is worth the added cost to hire a LA vs not? I want to hire one to give us ideas of what is possible in our space. I also know that since we live on a sloped hill, things like erosion, drainage, etc are rather important. My husband says "No. We don't need to spend the money. Just call up the guy who did our low retaining/decorative block walls and ask him what we can do."

How much does a LA typically cost if you just want them to do drawings and then you source the workers for masonry, etc yourself? Or will most only do it if they are the "general contractor" of sorts? Thanks so much for any info. I'm in Orange County, CA if anyone knows of some good ones.

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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

How do you know when it is worth the added cost to hire a LA vs not?
When you appreciate/ understand the value that a landscape architect can bring.

How much does a LA typically cost if you just want them to do drawings and then you source the workers for masonry, etc yourself? It depends, do you have a complicated site, are working in a HOA, have 25 acres or are you on a 1000 sq. ft lot ? - Basically it is priced accordinly to the site and the client .

A landscape architect is an landscape architect. Some also have a landscape contractors license and operate a design and build business.

Southern California is a jewel box over filled with amazing talent.
Pick up a Sunset, Architectural Digest, Dwell, California House and Home , and Pacific Horticulture magazines or check out Houzz website. So Cal's cups runneth over with talent.

Marmol Radziner, Rob Steiner, Jay Griffith, Marcie Grace, Elysian Landscape, Mia Leher, Thomas Schooos , Nancy Goslee Powers, Gabriela Yariv ... a just the tip of the iceburg of talent.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 9:42PM
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I would like to add that much of a landscape architect's value can be measured by how much waste and squandering of money they can prevent on the construction side of the equation. A $20 wrong-material-or-location choice today may be a hundred dollar debit tomorrow.

I think your husband is wrong because many people who can build very nice things often can't conceive of such things... especially when it involves not just a single element, but coordinating and pulling together many elements into a comprehensive picture. That is the essential talent a landscape architect can provide.

If you start calling around and asking some questions, I think you'll find the process of searching out an LA fairly easy to wade through. Before you do, you might collect some photographs that give a feel for the kinds of landscapes that interest you. Having them might make it easier for you to explain your objectives. And look around; if you see work that you admire, you can inquire who did it. When interviewing, try to get a feel for a designer's range of style as many like to work in their styles and don't want to do just anything. But there are a lot who are capable of many things.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 10:29AM
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deviant, thank you SO SO much for the names. I REALLY like Jay Griffith and Elysian so far. Will google more in a bit. My space is actually kind of a LA's dream-or maybe nightmare?!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 2:39PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

Jay is a very talented and great guy. I've been to his office, his home and a few of his projects and he brings out the best of the site and the client/ and their budget.
Rob Steiner use to work with him, he is also very talented.
I've never met Judy Kameon of Elysian Landscapes but her work speaks volumes for her interest in 'getting it right'. Her work is often seen in Sunset and Garden Design magazines.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 3:36PM
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I posted my space in "Anyone up for a challenge?" Does it make you drool or want to run away? Because I want to run away!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 4:39PM
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deviant-deziner(Oh zone)

You could be in a trailer park in So. Cal and it still would make me drool - It's your climate paired along with all the wonderful plants that you can grow that revvs my jets.

Your place has great potential .
The best laid landscape plans are those that capture the spirit of the place and the needs / desires of the client.

You've mentioned that you want a bit more flat usuable space for your two young children, but beside this small bit of info, that is all a designer has to go on.

I realize this is a public forum and it may seem weird to air your laundry list, but the more a designer knows about your life / lifestyle the better they can custom design a landscape that is suited to your needs.

For instance, you have a spa area that is currently not working - do you want to have it operational again ? , and if so wouldn't a set of step leading up to it between the two eye brow planters be a nice way to introduce it into the landscape ?

We duh-ziners are a curious lot and like to know how people want to use their spaces. Most of the time 'form follows function' and we can make the 'form' look darn exciting and inviting if we know how the family is going to function in the landscape.

Is the patio space adequate enough ?
Do you need any shade ?
How about connecting paths - and what would you like them to connect to ?
Is privacy, gardening, veggie growing, play structures, ping pong table, solar panels....... ?..... desired ?

The more info that you are willing to offer the better a designer can work with you.

You might get a nice little taste here on the forum , but if you take the chance and interview with a really good / creative designer on your property , I bet you would be impressed with what you can accomplish with a good collaborator / designer.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:05PM
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I want the spa area operational again. My husband wants to do "something with it" and then have an above ground spa since it is less maintenance. We already have steps leading to the spa, so i feel 2 sets going there is too much. I need space for a veggie garden. Currently I have that space, but it doesn't get the best light. The middle of the yard gets the best light. The patio space is adequate. It had a shade patio on it, but we had to rip it down 2 weeks ago due to dry rot and it basically LEANING. We figured we'd take it down controlled as opposed to waiting for it to squash someone. We enjoy eating outside, would like a built in BBQ and a fire pit that we can move if need be(though I'm more for a permanent one. If you have a design that FUNCTIONS, there is no reason to NEED to move it!)
I love the idea of connecting paths with hidden little seating areas-like one to the garden, one to the spa and one to a hidden nook where I can escape and have a glass of wine and not be bothered. I honestly cannot answer the question "How would you USE your space" very easily as we haven't actually USED it in so long. When it was more "operational" we used to have a lot of friends over to play poker and converse. With our kids being born, we got away from that, but I'd like to have more of a social life now that they are older. I think my husband is embarassed and often closes all of the blinds/shutters to the back yard when people come over.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:20PM
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