Marta Scherer Garland, reg. Landscape Architect, Georgia Lic# LA000664
If you first ask a mason to build a wall and patio, they will ask you where you want it and how big.
You will end up with a wall and patio.
If you ask me to build a wall and patio, I will first consider the big picture. We will start with what you are trying to achieve. What are your ideas, tastes, concerns, and budget. I will then design the patio and wall considering how it will fit into the entire property. I will design planting, lighting, furniture arrangements, fencing, cooking facilities, water features, and so on. My goal is to think ahead, and plan for everything you will need and want, even if the work will be phased over a few years. I strive to eliminate surprises, such as what will happen to the excess dirt from the bobcat activities, where will we move the sprinkler heads in the path of construction, when do we arrange gas line hookup to a grill, where are additional electrical outlets placed for a water feature pump, etc. There are many other practical elements to consider, such as drainage, ease of maintenance, and cost.
In the end, you will end up with a finished project, an environment that you enjoy. My goal is to create happiness with your property.
A landscape architect is a generalist, skilled at choreographing a menu of landscape elements and the client’s desires for their property. We have knowledge about many specialties, and are able to communicate and coordinate with skilled tradespeople, general labor, equipment operators, plant and product suppliers, and anyone else needed to build your project. We know when and who to hire if we need additional professional expertise such as engineers, arborists, and permit facilitators.
Potential clients sometimes call me after they have already spent time and money on their property with unhappy results. This is usually a result of the layout and details of the project not being communicated to you through plans or 3-D depictions. A verbal or written description is usually not enough. You may have been rushed into proceeding with the work, and not spending the time to explore several possibilities and alternatives. It takes time to develop a custom design. The client and designer develop a synergy, a back and forth exchange of ideas. The built project is often different than the first “free estimate”.
Hence, the mantra, “You cannot know what it is that you do not know”. I see failing retaining walls because the property owner did not know that concrete footings need to be poured a certain thickness. There are steps that have a poorly designed tread/riser ratio and are difficult to walk on, patios with too much slope making the furniture tilt, piles of dirt left in the yard because the grader did not figure on hauling it off, and so on.
After installing several thousand landscape projects, I can assure you that, although there are many “happy accidents”, property owners with a plan will end up with a project that “comes together” far more often than a property where projects have been done one by one.