When I meet clients for a landscape design, they often show me photos of overflowing cottage gardens, lush landscapes or huge stone patios complete with a fireplace and a backdrop of terraced walls.


What we are falling in love with is a snapshot of a beautiful landscape or inviting garden.  My job is to help turn their dream into a reality. My job sometimes also entails explaining the reality of the photo they are sharing.


Take the wonderful cottage garden full of flowers. What we don’t see is how completely bare this garden is in the winter. Not shown is how hard someone works maintaining the beds; controlling aggressively spreading perennials, staking top heavy stalks or the constant pruning and deadheading. A garden like this takes a commitment that many of us simply don’t have.  As a designer I have to help the client strike a balance between color and maintenance.


Flawless lawns and flower beds don’t manage themselves, and again the commitment may be more than expected.  Either we are going to spend quite a bit of our time tending to the landscape, or we are going to pay someone who hopefully knows what they are doing to maintain it for us.


Stone patios, walls and fire place are visually appealing, and the idea of hanging out with friends by the fire tugs at us emotionally. Unfortunately our budgets may not allow for everything.  Often a stone patio outfitted with a portable fire pit is the compromise. We can capture the beauty of stone walls with scaled back dimensions. A few smaller accent walls along slope can be as, or even more, interesting than a long wall running the entire width of our back yard.


We should never stop looking at what others have created, or stop dreaming of beautiful gardens of our own. We just need to look a little beyond the snapshot, and realize there is a cost for everything; the price tag is just not always visible.




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