Tips and Tricks to Plan and Start Your Residential Landscape Projects

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It is no secret that Americans love to take care of their outdoor living spaces. Most homeowners take residential landscape projects seriously as we view these spaces such as gardens, outdoor kitchens, patios, pools, and others as an extension of our indoor living space. Many use these areas to entertain friends and family.

Many people around the nation have had a lot of changes in their lives over the last few months. A lot of us have been staying at home and away from other people to avoid spreading or catching the novel coronavirus. Managing the stress of being home, caring for children or other loved ones has become an important ongoing goal for homeowners across the United States.

Spring is often seen as the season of renewal and rebirth. While this year has brought its own unique challenges and issues, working on residential landscape projects can help distract you from other issues, be a fun way to reduce stress, and provide your family with things you can all do together.

Experts in lawn and garden care have a lot of ideas and suggestions for homeowners looking to begin new residential landscape projects. Joseph Richardson, from Arlington, Virginia, owns the firm, Joseph Richardson Landscape Architecture. He says that most of the people who go to him for help with their residential landscape projects, do not really understand how long some projects will take. It can be very time and labor-intensive to take some design ideas from the drawing table to completion. He says the process can be done in just a few weeks or can take between six and ten months.

Richardson often advises clients on how to get the look they want in less time and usually for less money. He says there are a number of ways people can prepare better to limit the amount of time, effort, and money their residential landscape projects will use up.

Tips for getting the best jump on your residential landscape projects:

Think about how much you can afford to spend.

Whenever you are planning big purchases such as furniture or new residential landscaping projects, the first step should be planning the budget. Experts say that their basic rule is to set the budget somewhere between 10 to 15% of the value of the property. Keep in mind that this needs to be sufficient for everything you want to add to your property. While you are preparing your budget, you may also want to rank the things you want to do in order of how important they are to you. There may be things that you need to do sooner than later. The winter can be hard on a home and if you need to work with roof repair contractors, for instance, you may not be able to add that tennis court.

Give some thought to how you will use the space.

What essential landscape projects you start will depend a lot on how you want the space to be used. Walk around your space and think about how you move in that area. Doing this can help when you talk to landscaping experts and the like. Knowing what you want to do with your outdoor areas will also help determine what paths you put in, where you will put in seating or entertaining areas, and what plants or trees you want to add. Knowing how you will use the space makes all the difference in what kinds of furniture or cooking equipment you need for your home. If you plan to put in a pool you will have different needs than if you want to plan to host elaborate dinner parties.

Think about your plan for the property.

Think about how long you plan to live there. If you have been in the house for a while and are thinking about moving within a few years, you may want to make changes to make it easier to sell. For example, if you know you want to see the home soon, putting in a pool may make sense. Real estate experts say that putting in a swimming pool can add about 7% to the overall value of the property. If your plan is to stay in the home for a longer period of time, you may be able to have a larger plan and do each area at a different time. For example, if you are going to stay in the house, you do not have to do everything this season.

Write up a plan for your home.

Think about how you use it and what you want it to look like. It helps to make a list of the things you want to include in your landscaping. If you want to keep all of your foliage local, you may want to bring in an arborist to help you find the best trees. If this is a new property for you, there may be some larger projects that you need to focus on first. Adding new fencing may be a good way to mark the property. If you plan to change the look of the property, you may want to talk to experts in driveway paving. The home may have retaining walls that need attention or flower beds that need a better residential garden irrigation system.

Get documents or images of the home through the years.

It is often possible to get images or other documents about a home and the property. When you buy a place, the closing documents should have a recent and accurate survey of the land you now own. For newer homes, you may also be able to get your hands on topographic surveys and architectural designs. There are a few reasons you want to do this. In the first place, you can see where exactly on your property you will find the utility easements, property lines, and other issues that could impact what you want to do with your residential landscape projects. It is always better to know what you are facing before you start a big project. If the home is older, you can get ideas about what you want to do with the land. You never know where you are going to find inspiration and looking through pictures (if you can get them) or other documents from the property can give you new ideas.

Pay attention to the property.

Before you get started on any new residential landscape projects, you should take a look at your land. Where does the rain go? Knowing how water flows in your yard, can give you an idea of what you need to do to keep your house safe. Erosion can be a big problem. If you think it may be an issue at your home, you may want to consider hydroseeding. This is a method used for planting in which mulch and seed are combined to make a slurry. You can also want to make sure your downspouts are doing their job in keeping water away from your foundation. The bottom line is that knowing the natural path water takes on your property can help you plan your projects correctly.

You can find ideas all over.

There are a lot of websites from Pinterest to Twitter where people post images of their homes and gardens. Houzz is a popular site for ideas about residential landscape projects as well as just about any kind of home project you may want to do. There are also other fun places that can offer inspiration. People love to post images of their homes on Facebook, Instagram, and even Tik Tok.

The real world also offers ideas and inspiration. Drive around your area and see what people have done with their outdoor spaces. You may not be spending much time at the homes of friends or family but you have been there before. Think about what you have seen that has impressed you. If you have photo albums, look through them to see if you can find examples of what you like and do not like. This can help when you are picking flowers and accent pieces and everything else. This can also give you an excuse to call your friends and family to talk about their landscaping. Look at what you do not like, too. Knowing what you do not like can be as helpful as knowing what you like.

Take time hiring contractors.

Whether you are talking to residential tree service companies or landscape architects, you should take your time hiring them. Here are some tips for getting the right company for your project:

  1. Talk to people you know. You know homeowners, see who they used for residential landscape projects to your own. The best way to get good quality services is to get a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member.
  2. Get estimates in writing. When you talk to different contractors and companies make sure they come to your property and take time to understand what you want. You should then get detailed proposals in writing. This will reduce the likelihood that there are surprises on your final bill. Having detailed estimates also helps you compare and contrast the different proposals. Having it all in writing can also prevent them from changing their prices midway through the project.
  3. Talk to at least three businesses. The process of doing residential landscape projects can be a long one. It is understandable that the first contractor you talk to is the one you want to hire. Resist that urge. You can end up spending more and not getting what you want if you just hire the first person you talk to.
  4. Do your homework. It always makes sense to go with a local company or person. You can ask about other residential landscape projects they have done in the area. Take some time to drive by and look at what they have done. Landscape projects can look very different once done than they do on paper. Even photographs may not do them justice. Any time you spend on research before your project starts is time well spent.
  5. Get references. Most companies have testimonials on their website. If you find them for the companies you are considering, look into them. It is all too easy to make them up. It is also easy to have very old work reviewed on a website. The people who did that work may not even be with the company any longer. If they can give you references to talk to, make the point to contact them. If they are impossible to reach, that also will tell you something about how professional the company or contractor is.
  6. Make sure you have the right permits. Contractors who handle residential landscape projects often get these for you but if they do not, you will be on the hook for any fines levied by your town or municipality. To make things easier on you, make sure you check with your local government before you hire anyone. Knowing what the law is can help you stay in compliance.
  7. Read everything before signing anything. This may go without saying but it is important to repeat. It is important that you look through any contract and make sure you understand the whole thing and know what you are paying and for what. If you have questions, make sure they are answered. If you do not take the time to look at the small print, it can hurt you in the long run.
  8. Get all your questions answered in advance. This is too important to not repeat. If you have questions, issues, concerns, anything with paperwork provided by your contractor and they will not take the time to explain things, go with someone else. If they do not have the time to answer questions before you become a paying client, they will not have the time after you do. This can also give you an idea of what it will be l like to work with them. More questions will come up as the project moves forward. The last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable asking them when you have them.

The first thing people see at your home is the way it looks from the outside. Your residential landscape projects can influence what they think of your home from the get-go. Whether you are looking to one-up the neighbors, sell your home, or just build a dream home that you always wanted, taking time to work out your plans can make all the difference in the world.

Putting time and effort into planning your home and landscape renovation projects will pay off in the long run. These projects will be more cost-effective, lead to faster completion, and often end in a better experience and outcome. The good news is that this can be a fun process for you and your family.

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