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Most recent posting below. See other articles in the column to the right.

Selecting A Landscape Architect

Often a little change in your environment can mean a lot of happiness. Substantial change may also end up being more profitable. This is often the case with landscape investments. Consider doing what not only attracts you when it comes to creating an outdoor area, but the added impact landscape has - higher property values, a more desirable neighborhood, and a rewarding finished product that is functional and beautiful.

Landscape architecture is the profession that encompasses the analysis planning, design, management, and stewardship of outdoor space and land. Activities of a landscape architect cover a wide range, including creating public parks and parkways, site-planning for corporate office buildings, reclaiming blighted areas, designing towns and creating private residential areas. Before you enlist the services of a landscape architect, check out the tips below and the Guide to Jobs in Landscape Architecture and Related Fields.

First, think about what you want and how you will use your landscape. Formal entertaining, herb gardens and playgrounds are all possibilities. Consider your home's style. An English Cottage-style garden may look of place in front of a modern home. To find the right look for you, go through pictures in magazines and view gardens in your neighborhood.

To find a reputable local landscape architect, ask a neighbor whose yard you admire for the name of the contractor they have worked with. Credentials are important; membership in a professional association is a good indication that someone is qualified and well-trained. Landscape architects must be licensed to practice in 46 states. Licensure is obtained through education, experience, and by passing a rigorous professional exam. Landscape architects may also belong to reputable professional associations with membership requirements.

Make a realistic budget. One rule of thumb is to invest ten percent of your property's worth; this figure should include all design and installation costs, as well as plant materials. If this estimate seems steep, consider that appropriate landscape improvements are estimated to return 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold. Landscaping is the only home improvement that can boast this kind of return on an initial investment.

Interview a few landscape architects. If you've interviewed home contractors or architects, it's a similar process. A good designer will ask you about your preferences, what you will use the space for, how much money and time you would like to allot to the design. A good designer will also walk around the site, take pictures and measurements. Ask about maintenance. How much time and money will you have to invest in the installation and the maintenance?

Start early. This winter season is the best time to consult with a designer. This way you'll be all ready to go when spring weather arrives. This way you'll be ready to go when spring weather arrives

Designing is only the first step to a dream landscape. Deciding how to install the materials is the next. A lot depends on how complicated the plan is. Obviously, moving large amounts of earth and installing a drainage system is not a do-it-yourself project. Your landscape architect will advise you and can recommend reputable contractors to do the work that you either can't or don't want to do.

One job that homeowners can do themselves, saving a lot of money, is to buy and install their own plants. Some wholesale nurseries are now selling to the public, particularly for large purchases. Many offer free delivery with a minimum order. Home improvement centers often offer near-wholesale prices everyday, although plant care and quality can vary. To ensure hearty, high-quality plants, buy from a reputable nursery. Also, plan to prepare and treat your property's soil with sand, loam, or compost. Install the plants according to your plan so they will continue to thrive.

If you aren't an expert gardener, you'd probably be well-advised to pay your landscape architect or designer to supervise the contractor's installation of plant materials. You want to be sure the plants installed are those specified and the plans are followed to the letter.

After your landscaping project is finished, the fun really begins. There's nothing like watching a garden mature to bring out the green thumb in even the most city-fied of us. Gardening has become one of America's favorite hobbies and is widely recommended for stress reduction. Professional design also means maintenance can be kept to a minimum, while the enjoyment lasts year-round.

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