To find a landscape architect firm in your community, use ASLA’s Firm Finder search function. Be sure to select ‘Washington’ from the state drop down menu.
Selecting a Landscape Architect
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.
Think about what you want and how you will use your landscape. Formal entertaining, herb gardens and playgrounds are all possibilities. Consider you home’s style. An English cottage-style garden may look out 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 and around your community.
Credentials are important. Education, experience and registration are good indicators that someone is qualified and well trained. To practice landscape architecture in the State of Washington, one must hold a license issued by the Department of Licensing. Licensure is obtained through education, experience and by passing a rigorous exam. Landscape architects may also belong to other reputable professional associations with membership requirements.
Make a realistic budget.
One rule of thumb is to invest ten percent of your property’s worth in the planning and development of the site. Consider that appropriate landscape improvements are estimated to return 100 to 200 percent of their cost when a house is sold. Landscape development is the only home improvement that can boast this kind of return on an initial investment.
Interview a few landscape architects.
If you have interviewed home contractors or architects, this is 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. They will also walk around the site, take pictures and measurements and ask about maintenance preferences.
Designing is only the first step to the development of a landscape.
Deciding how to install the materials is the next. A lot depends on how complicated the plan is. Obviously, moving large amounts of soil, and installing an extensive drainage system is not a do-it-yourself. Your landscape architect will advise you and can recommend reputable contractors to install the design.
One job that homeowners can do themselves is to buy and install their own plants. 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. Your landscape architect can advise you as to soil type and condition.
If you are not an expert gardener, you would probably be well advised to retain your landscape architect to supervise the contractor’s installation of the design. The quality and craftsmanship of the work, be it retaining walls, paving, irrigation systems or planting of trees, shrubs and groundcovers should reflect the landscape architect’s design intent and his inspection will ensure this quality.
After your landscape project is finished, the fun really begins. There is nothing like watching a garden mature to bring out the green thumb in even the most citified 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.