By Lance McCarthy
One of my favorite parts of my job is being able to work with some really talented people. One of those talented people is Jason Meier of Meier Consulting. Jason is a landscape architect by trade, and helps people re-envision their property, but also is an amazing asset for land development.
We have worked together for many years, and I sat down with him recently to talk about landscaping, and thought you might be interested to hear what we discussed.
Why would it be important to talk with a designer before starting an outdoor project?
To me the most important thing is to create an overall Master Plan for the property. Even if you won’t be doing all the work at once, I believe this saves time and it saves money in the future. It also helps create a cohesive design for the entire property, instead of it being piecemealed together.
Great idea. What is a Master Plan?
The master plan is an overall design for the entire property that incorporates all of the hopes and dreams that the owner is envisioning. From hardscape and building to plants and trees.
What are the major components of a Master Plan?
They can be broken down into two general aspects. Hardscapes and softscapes. Hardscapes include swimming pools, decks, patios, gazebos, pergolas, etc. Softscapes include the plants to be used and the effects that the owner is wanting to achieve with those plants. For example, shaded areas or rose gardens or fern gardens, etc.
What does the outdoor planning process look like?
For me the first step is meeting to see the property and getting to know the owner’s needs and dreams for the space. From this first meeting I am able to create several “Concept Plans”. They are more basic, but help a client get a sense of what they like and don’t like.
From those concept plans we are able to pull together different elements that we like to create an overall set of “Construction Documents”. This construction document set of plans can then be used to get more accurate bidding, and ultimately to construct the space.
This process has helped save my clients a lot of money over the years because they are able to make strategic changes along the way to make sure they are investing in the most effective way.
Do you have any cost saving tips for developing an outdoor space?
My best advice is to use the master plan to phase the work instead of trying to do a whole space on an unrealistic budget. Trying to do too much for too little ends up making an owner disappointed, and causes too much re-work in the end. A more specific cost saver is custom saw cuts in concrete patios. After the pour, the installers can cut a pattern into the concrete. It is a very inexpensive way to add design flair, but has a big impact on the overall space.
Our regional climate makes planning an outdoor space challenging. What advice do you have?
I think one of the most important things to consider is sun angle. It’s critically important to know what areas of the property need sun tolerant plants and materials v. shade tolerant plants and materials. Because of the amount of rain we get, and how it often comes in big waves (no pun intended), grading and water management should be a big consideration as well.
Are there new varieties of plants that people should consider?
Yes, I really like using kaleidoscope abelia in place of roses. The abelia have a lot of different colors and are almost year round. Another shrub I like is the Korean Azalea because its flowers are just amazing!
If you have any additional questions for Jason or me, feel free to drop me a line. I’ll be happy to help