This is a common question for homeowners less familiar with what is involved in landscape construction. For some small projects, you may not need a plan. But when a project involves several landscape elements like a walkway, patio, garden, or changes in site topography, developing a well-considered plan is the critical first step.

At its core, asking if you need a landscape design is really a question about return on investment. In other words, is it worth it? We’ve found that when you understand what a landscape design accomplishes, you quickly appreciate why it’s necessary to allocate a small percentage of your project budget towards the design process.

Landscape design goes beyond simple aesthetic preferences and options. For example, you may initially reach out to us because you are interested in a new inground pool and patio. Before making aesthetic choices for these features, like using bluestone versus concrete pavers as a hardscape material, we must first analyze what’s possible by understanding a range of functional and technical considerations.

Through our design process, we collect information about your wants, needs, and aesthetic preferences, as well as information about your property. This information includes current conditions such as existing structures and features, elevations, plant material and trees, solar exposure, and stormwater management, to name a few.

By merging your desires with technical data about your property, we can learn what is possible to construct concerning things like the size and shape of a swimming pool or patio, ideal proximity to interior spaces, other features or property boundaries, and adherence to applicable codes. It is common for us to produce more than one design concept for your consideration. Our clients often comment that our design process produces options they love and would have never thought of on their own.

Another benefit of a landscape design is the ability to produce an accurate estimate for construction. We have an advantage in this area because all of our designers have experience in project management and proper construction techniques. It makes our designs grounded in reality resulting in fewer surprises during construction, which has proven benefits to our clients because poor planning is the most often cited reason in our industry for exceeding a landscape construction budget. Finally, a completed design becomes an essential communication tool between homeowners, workers, and tradespeople and serves as a road map for efficient construction.

Decades of experience delivering beautiful landscapes have proven that design is essential for most projects. Giving as much value as possible to our clients is why we use a design-build process. It’s the best way to ensure the highest possible return for every hard-earned dollar you spend improving your outdoor spaces.

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This content was originally created and published in the “Ask the Expert” section of Bedford Living published by N2 Publishing.