From the Magazine

Changing an established landscape can be a large undertaking. If the planting is unfamiliar to you because you just purchased the home, an expert will recognize worthwhile plants and make suggestions about what to save, move or eliminate. His professional advice could save you time and money in replacement costs.

A professional can help redesign an established landscape you have lived with for years but want to change. A fresh look from a different perspective could prevent a huge and costly project. You may think you need to bulldoze the entire yard and start from scratch, when all you really need for a new look and feel is a carefully placed walkway, a patio in the corner of the yard, or removal of large shrubs to create a new space.

Do your homework
A talented designer can create your dream landscape if you can communicate your vision to him or her. Herein is the most important aspect of this working relationship. You must know what you want from your landscape. Do you want a space for children or pets to play? Would you like to entertain outside? How much maintenance are you willing to do? Know how much money you have to spend on your project.

Collect pictures of yards and gardens that you admire from books and magazines. Make a list of plants you would like to include in your plan. If those plants are not suitable for your location, your designer should have suggestions for substitutions.

Finding the right person or firm
Do some research. Ask friends, family and neighbors for recommendations. Get referrals from local nurseries or public gardens. When interviewing prospective companies, ask to see pictures of their previous projects. Are the projects done in the style you desire? Check with former clients to see if they are happy with their completed projects and if they enjoyed working with the company.

Affiliations with professional associations such as ANLA or TNLA (American and Texas Nursery and Landscape Associations) or Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) indicate a certain level of professionalism. Check that the firm has adequate insurance.

Decide what level of involvement you want in the project. Some companies will handle only the design; others provide the design, installation and ongoing maintenance. Most companies will work with you on a schedule. You can decide to implement the design in several stages over a period of months or years as your time and budget allow.

Know what you want, find the right person to work with, and you can have the beautiful landscape of your dreams.

About the author: Mary Wilhite has worked with many gardening professionals in her 27 years in the nursery business. She is happy to hire out much of the work involved in the upkeep of her 6-acre garden center in the woods of East Texas. You can virtually visit the nursery on their website at, or visit them in person at Blue Moon Gardens, located outside of Edom, 15 miles west of Tyler.

Posted by gdrew

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