Friday, April 14, 2006
Extend 'remodel' to the outside
By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Happy National Landscape Architecture Month! You might not have known that April is the month we celebrate landscape architecture, but with a few warm days sneaking in between our April showers, it's a great time to stop and think about your yard.
Coming as it does at the very end of a remodeling project, landscaping is often ignored, neglected or eliminated. Homeowners sometimes fail to include a budget for repairing the yard or installing new landscaping, or they spend what budget they have during the construction process on new furnishings and decorations.
But the reality is, any significant construction project on your home will have an effect on your yard. Plants will be crushed by workers, lawns will be smothered with piles of supplies, and entire trees may be removed. At a minimum, sprinkling systems will have to be repaired, and often they need to be redesigned completely.
So how do you reclaim your yard? Though it may be less expensive or easiest to just restore your yard to its former state, this may be the time to update your landscape design. Landscaping can become just as outdated as architecture, and a once well-designed yard can become overgrown and nondescript.
Just as with architecture, landscape design can be approached on a number of different levels. Large home-improvement stores have books and classes to help the do-it-yourselfers. There are also landscape designers who work for landscaping companies. These are people with varied amounts of design experience who come up with plans that can be executed by the installers working for their company.
Finally, there are landscape architects who are trained at a university level and licensed by the state. The amount charged for these different levels of service is commensurate with the expertise of the persons involved, and the old adage, "You get what you pay for," may certainly apply.
According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, "Landscape architecture encompasses the analysis, planning, design, management and stewardship of the natural and built environments."
Landscape architects create outdoor spaces that are functional as well as beautiful. They will work with you to develop a master plan for your site that combines their design and artistic skills with their knowledge of the details and logistics of construction. They lay out the "hardscape" (walks, retaining walls, fountains, etc.) as well as the "softscape" (soil, grass, plants and trees).
The fee for a landscape architect for a typical residence will run from $1,000 to $2,000. This will give you a master plan to guide you through future exterior improvements, but it does not include materials or labor for the actual construction.
Beautiful landscaping will last for generations and will increase the value of your property. But one final word of caution: Make sure if there is any chance of a future remodeling project, you hold off on the yard. There is no doubt that the correct sequence is to do building construction first and landscaping after! As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.