Meeting with Garden Designer - What to Ask

kitcatclub(z5 NY)August 23, 2010

Hi, all!

A little background - we own just over an acre and I'd say about 40% of it is garden at this point. We will have been here 10 years next April. It's mostly mixed perennials with lots of roses and daylilies. The newer area we created over the last 2 years I'm quite proud of and definitely took a longer view on the design. It's a nice mix of trees and shrubs and large rocks for bones and the other plants tucked in with more thought given to their eventual sizes. I even made a few specialty areas - a dedicated herb circle and a small rock garden near the patio.

Unfortunately, the "old" section that I created when we first moved in now looks really bad in comparison, so I'm planning a complete re-design. It will probably take 2 years because we can't really afford a landscaper, though we have a friend who loans us equipment sometimes. I've been talking about it non-stop all this summer and my darling spouse has decided to give me a wonderful present for my birthday - a 2 hour consultation with a garden designer!! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

So here's my question - what do I ask her?? I don't want to waste her time asking silly things about which plant to put where but I'm not very knowledgable about landscape lingo. Any advice would be appreciated!! Thanks much!


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Tell her what you are planning to do. That will tell her a lot about you and your goals which will make the consultation take on a life of its own based upon both of your knowledge and skill sets.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2010 at 10:34PM
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kitcatclub(z5 NY)

Thanks, laag. I'm not really sure myself what I want to do, though I have some ideas. There's a patio attached to the back of our house which is very nice but not really useful as there is no shade to speak of. It feels a bit like being a bug in a skillet to sit out there! I'd love to add a pergola to it, coming off the house, to cool it down but that gets expensive.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 8:52AM
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OK-- see if this works!!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Hi kimbery35042 - it worked, but on the wrong thread.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 12:16PM
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I'd tell the designer what you want to do now...and what you'd like to do, in the future. If a pergola is on the wish list, but not in the budget, maybe make it part of a long-term plan, for your garden. A good designer will give you ideas for your garden that can be implemented over time. If shade over your patio is important, maybe a pergola in a few years is a good option, but ask her what can be planted on it and around it, to go with your current design.

It sounds like you have a lot of great plants already, but just need to redesign the space. Try to reuse as many plants as possible. If you have to dig some things up and start a temporary nursery, that could be in an area you redo later on. I moved all my plants...even the tulips, while they were blooming...and moved them again after redesigning the beds. It saved a lot of money and gave me bigger plants. Moving roses, blueberries, butterfly bushes are not difficult, as long as you have the new bed ready, move them one at a time, and water them well, before you go to the next plant.

Have fun with your consultation! :)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 5:44PM
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kitcatclub(z5 NY)

Thanks, LL! Yes, I have a lot of mature plants in the area to be rearranged and some of them are leaving permanently. Most can be temporarily moved till the beds are back in order, though.

I'm looking to simplify things as much as possible - my back just won't take 8 hour days in the garden anymore. Mulch will be used much more liberally as well as more trees and shrubs. Oddly, I actually think we will have to expand some of the beds in order to make them easier to work in. It seems simplifying doesn't always mean smaller!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 3:09PM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

I think a good place to begin is to think about the look and feel you want for that area. Do you want a cool, restful, shady retreat to sit or view (think shady, green, colors on the cool side of the wheel, with a bench or table for sitting) or eye-popping bright, hot colors in the sun?

Once you've nailed down the look you want, the designer and help you with the specifics to meet the requirements of the overall look you have in mind.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 11:23AM
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