I am so excited to show you our amazing front yard landscape transformation with a 6 months update! I am sharing interviews with the two experts who designed and installed our landscape, including the beginning strategies, installation steps, and the finished project’s benefits. This information is invaluable when considering your own landscape dreams.
For some time, Andy and I have been dreaming of transforming our front yard landscape. Over the years, we’ve tried to replace plants and add new ones, only to find that it wasn’t producing the change and definitely not the overall look we wanted for our home. We knew that we had reached the end of our efforts and reached out to the two landscape experts who so beautifully transformed our yard into one of our dreams.
We worked with David Brush, owner of David N. Brush Landscape Architecture, and John R. Saunders III, owner, Nature’s Edge L.L.C. Both David and John are located in Birmingham, Alabama.
Their talent and expertise are evident in this project. I am thrilled to share an interview with them in this post today. You do not want to miss them talk about how they go about their craft.
The vision happens first and sets the tempo for the rest of the project. After listening to the client and understanding their program, we then start our process with a Schematic Masterplan, which is a bird’s eye view drawing that explores the design on a macro level. Connecting with a talented construction team like John’s is crucial for realizing the initial vision.
Design drawings presented in Brendt’s project occupied a small enough space that we were able to blend a Schematic Masterplan and a Planting Plan into one drawing.
People are busy and typically don’t want to spend vast amounts of time maintaining their landscape. This notion applied to Brendt’s project so, to help minimize maintenance, we focused the plant selections around native and hardy materials.
Planning ahead makes for a much smoother installation. For Brendt’s project, several checkpoints had to be met before John’s team could begin the actual transformation. These included: Ensuring the construction cost met budget; gaining approval from the HOA for the design/plans; removing a large tree that overwhelmed the front yard; and locating underground utilities so they could later be avoided.
Implementing garden ornaments such as planters and urns goes a long way towards creating a finished look. As a bonus, they allow the homeowner to further infuse their personality into the spaces by planting them with annual and perennial color. Elegant Earth has a terrific selection of garden ornaments with an old-world appeal yet doesn’t break the bank.
This is an important aspect to consider when someone is installing a new landscape. We understand that a new landscape is a very important expense that could help a potential Client accomplish their current goals with their home. It is important when finding a landscape contractor to research the landscape firm you hire. When pricing out a job, it is essential to consider the previous experience of the landscape firm, their ability to promptly complete the project, price, project management, etc. If a homeowner is looking to simply go with the lowest price, there is a good chance that this will end in disappointment. Ben Franklin once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
David: A solid mix of deciduous and evergreen plants were used. The evergreen plants serve as the bones, lending year-round structure to the landscape, while the deciduous plants create ongoing seasonal interest.
John: It is crucial to carefully source our plant materials to install the highest quality plant materials at the best price. We work with multiple suppliers to ensure quality plants. We have specific suppliers that specialize in trees, others that specialize in ornamentals, etc. We strive to feed off each supplier to make sure the final product is something to be proud of, and we are proud to put our name on.
David: We always specify plant material that’s of good size at the time of installation yet doesn’t outgrow its space in ten years. This also requires a prudent effort to balance cost with immediate impact.
John: Many people want to have that instant gratification of the “full” landscape as soon as the project is complete. As David said, it is essential to provide adequate space between plant materials to allow for them to mature to be the plants they are meant to be. I always tell the Clients that ask me for this that they will love us when the project is complete because of the instant fullness of the landscape, but they will be disappointed when they are pulling out plants in 3 years when the plants are taking over the area and choking each other out. As David said, we want to make sure the plants don’t outgrow their space.
David: It usually takes about three years for a new landscape to hit its stride. I like to think of the first three years in terms of the three big A’s: Acclimate, Adjust, Accelerate.
John: Every landscape installation is different and has different aspects that will affect the time it takes to install. Factors to consider are access, size of plants, & complexity of the design. It is important to us that when we start a project, we have a crew on site from start to finish, and we are not bouncing between different jobs. Clients are always excited to see us begin work and eagerly wait for the final product. Our job is to produce that final product as soon as possible to enable them to enjoy their new landscape!
John: This is an important aspect of any project to consider when installing a new landscape. Your project had great accessibility since it was the front yard, and there was great access from the road and driveway. Some projects that we encounter may be a back yard below retaining walls, a sloped front yard, limited room for “holding area,” etc. It is important to evaluate every project before beginning to make sure expectations are set for how each part of the project will be accessed and ensure our Clients can go on with their daily living with minimal interruptions.
John: We understand that every project that we install is something that the homeowner has thought long and hard about and are excited to have installed. All crew members at Nature’s Edge are constantly reminded that this is not just a “job,” but a chance to make dreams come true for a valued Client that has been dreaming about this transition. We treat every project as our own yard and try to be accommodating as possible to each client. We also strive to remind our guys that we are making dreams come true and want to make the installation process as seamless as possible and show the homeowner that we care as much about their yard as they do.
David: First impressions mean a lot to people and homes alike. I like to analyze how the house in terms of ‘How does it greet you?” Scale, materials used, colors, and views are all key components you’ll want to consider. For example, one of the big gestures we made for Brendt’s project was removing a large water oak. It was of good quality. However, it had been planted in the wrong location and eventually dominated any sense of curb appeal. Grass around it struggled, and some of the house’s charm was lost behind the tree’s canopy. So, we hit reset and removed it.
John: Curb appeal is so important and always accomplished with a new landscape. One of our favorite parts of any job is seeing the final product and how much is changed the curb appeal of a house. Just to know that they now have the landscape of their dreams, AND their curb appeal is something for the neighbors to be jealous of.
David: Curb appeal and engaging outdoor spaces not only enhance the quality of life for the homeowner, but they have the added benefit of capturing the attention of prospective buyers.
John: Curb appeal is the first thing that any new home buyer will see when purchasing a house. If your house has a great curb appeal, this will draw them in to see more. Simultaneously, if the topography of a yard is changed to enable more room for kids to play or room for a future pool, outdoor kitchen, sitting area, etc.….. these are all aspects that will increase value to a prospective buyer as well. Every new element installed could be the one thing that the buyer is looking for and could help put your house above and beyond any other houses they may be looking at.
David: Now more than ever, people are looking to escape outside, and doing so in their own outdoor living spaces provides a safe solution. When executed properly, outdoor spaces are natural extensions of the house so that the inside flows outside and vice versa.
John: This is definitely something that more and more people are looking for. A place to spend time with family or friends is the key to enjoying a new landscape.
Can you even believe the transformation? By taking what John and David shared in this post, I hope you feel empowered to begin your own project. This information is invaluable when approaching your own questions and during the whole process of working with landscape architects and landscape designers. If you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area, Andy and I give David, John, and their crews 5 stars and highly recommend.
David: You’re beginning to see the benefits of a late fall planting in that the plants have the opportunity to enter spring acclimated to their new home. They’ve established root growth in the fall and have a head start on new spring growth.
The landscape has definitely gotten fuller and plants/trees are growing!
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