Landscape Consultations ~ Cape Cod
Landscape Consultations ~ Cape Cod
Here’s a question that I hear frequently: “Do you do consultations?” I consider Country Garden’s on-site consultation service to be another way we can live up to our company motto: Large enough to serve you, small enough to know you.
Many of our customers can be helped right in the nursery and store. Most of our employees are happy to look at a photo or two on a phone or iPad and make plant recommendations. We often identify plants from samples brought in, and are frequently asked for disease or insect problem solvers based on an example or a photo. But on many occasions, being on the customer’s property is far more helpful.
Most of the time when I’m on a consultation, I’m there for several reasons. The customer might want a new foundation planting design, but while I’m there they will ask for the identification of a plant they aren’t familiar with and some advice about pruning a tree or shrub.
Designing is easier onsite because we can all clearly see the conditions that will determine which plants will do well. Knowing how the trees in the area are shading the plantings, for example, or seeing that the soil is especially thin and sandy is important when recommending plants and landscaping practices. And being on the property to notice which windows have an important view, or which areas are most in need of privacy, for example, is key since these things aren’t usually conveyed in a photo.
I have found that it’s also important to be on the site with my client so that I can offer two or three suggestions about plants and use of space and learn which of these options best resonates with the homeowners. Often, since I’m looking at the property with “fresh eyes” I can suggest design and plant options that they haven’t thought of.
Before investing money and time in new plantings, many find it useful to “get a second opinion.” Sometimes I even act as an arbitrator between spouses who have opposite opinions about what should be done. (This never surprises me…my husband and I disagree about the gardens all the time!) Rather than have one person feeling like he or she has “given in,” they have me tell them what should be done…and frankly, often it’s a solution that neither of them has thought of.
Here’s a few tips for success if you’re hiring a landscape consultant, whether it’s myself or someone else:
- If there are a few plants you know you’d love to have, make a list of those before the meeting. That’s not to say that they can always be used, because a good consultant will only recommend plants that they know are likely to live and thrive on your property. But knowing what plants you like helps everyone start out with a good idea of your general sensibility.
- If there are plants you really don’t like, make a list of those as well.
- Know that groups of three or more plants usually look better than one or two. So if the designer recommends three, don’t buy two and expect to have the same look.
- If the designer draws plants as placed in a triangle or staggered planting, don’t place them in a straight line.
- Plantings might look a little sparse when they are first installed…in fact, it’s better when that’s the case as you know the plants will have space to grow. Fill in with low, understory ground cover or perennials while the taller plants fill in.
- Like many designers, I often recommend a “named cultivar” which is a specific variety of a plant. If I’ve recommended a ‘Magic Carpet’ spirea instead of other spireas, for example, I do so for a reason. The named variety has particular characteristics that will function or look better in the landscape. Often these are size of growth, color of foliage or flower and overall performance of the plants. In the example given ‘Magic Carpet’ stays shorter, has brightly colored foliage and is a very strong grower…there are many other wonderful spirea shrubs, but where a specific size and color are important, that might be the only one that fits. So pay attention to the names and don’t be quick to substitute any other plant.
If you’re interested in scheduling a consultation, know that I’m commonly booking two to three weeks in advance during the spring season. You can reach me by leaving a message at the store. Read more about the Hyannis Country Garden consultation and design services here.
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