Out of love or common sense?
The relationship with a landscape architect should preferably be based on both these aspects. On the one hand, the architect should be a professional who is able to deliver a high quality result which meets the defined general criteria for a fair price. On the other hand, however, he or she should have a similar personality to you and be able to understand you, because only then will you create a place together where you simply feel good.
Why work with a professional?
A professional should bring some kind of vision, experience and creativity to the planning of a garden. Even so, the choice is not very simple, even though it may be the most important decision you make during the process of the creation of the garden.
A good landscape architect will be “on your side” during the whole process, from the design to the handover of the finished garden. The presence of the architect during the implementation of the project, including the monitoring of how the implementing company turns the plan into reality, is of particular importance. Only then will the results match your specifications.
In addition, the careful choice of both the landscape architect and the implementing company can save you a lot of worries later on.
Before you start work on your garden, it is important to plan it out and to think twice about everything. Furthermore, it is also necessary to create an elementary notion according to which you can build the garden either all at once or step by step so that the individual ideas follow on from one another continuously and correspond to the garden you require. The main decision is based on whether you would like to realize the specific project yourself or whether you would like to ask a professional for help.
<“I guess that many people are able to do their own gardens better than could be done by an ordinary designer. It is often not very easy to find somebody who senses what you feel and cares about whether you feel really good in your garden, so that you are not left disillusioned or disappointed by the whole experience,” explains the landscape architect Ferdinand Leffler.
Studio FLERA says: “This is an attempt to be distinctive and different, but in the wrong place. Fences (and hedges as well) should always unify and calm the street line. This is simply an effort to be original at all costs. And what is the right way? You should see how your neighbours in the street, in your city district, have resolved their fences. Fences are a link with history and so the exterior should follow the established schematic – but this does not only apply to fences, but also to the paving on the path from the gate – the original landscape architecture.”
An initial investment which will pay for itself
Many people may feel that such a collaboration with a landscape architect is a waste of money. However, a landscape architect should be able to help you save a lot of money. For example, the architect will thoroughly reconsider the allocation of the functions in your garden with you, so you will not need to significantly modify the expensive concept for at least several years. Moreover, the architect will be able to offer an entire range of solutions with regard to each of your wishes and help you choose the optimum, most permanent option and maybe also the cheapest one. Last but not least, a landscape architect should also have a good understanding of how plants grow,
so that you can avoid any unnecessary investments in species which will not survive in your garden. If you are planning to place an order for the work in your garden to be undertaken by a gardening company, make an appointment with the architect in order to implement a proper competitive tender. Ask your acquaintances, which companies they have had good experiences with; your architect may even be able to give you a tip for a proven company. Compare the bids not only from the point of view of the price, but also notice the quality of the work and the customer satisfaction after the completion of the work.
A professional should bring a vision, experience and creativity to the planning of a garden. Choose very carefully, if you decide to work with a landscape architect. You should choose a person who is interested in your desires, preferences and lifestyle. A garden should principally reflect the personality of its owner and only subsequently speak for the chosen architect, if at all.
A landscape architect can save you a lot of money. He or she can thoroughly reconsider the allocation of the functions in the garden, as well the plant structure, so you will not need to change or repot anything for several years.
The mere provision of the design would not be sufficient
A good quality architect will be your partner even once the implementation period has ended and will defend your interests. He or she should regularly attend the inspection meetings reviewing the work undertaken by the implementing company and supervise the quality and costs. As a rule, some additional details will usually need to be resolved during the implementation. In these cases, it is always good for the investor to know the opinion of both the implementing company and the landscape architect. Implementing companies which are unsupervised by a landscape architect, often tend to revert to mass-produced and sometimes unfortunate solutions which can literally “bury” the whole concept and the ideas which you have tried to acquire for the particular project with the help of an architect.
Studio FLERA says: “This is an example of how a bed, which has in all probability been untouched by a landscape architect, looks. A collection of “balls on a trunk” surrounded by a mass of river pebbles like this one does not require any great knowledge. We will leave each of you to decide whether or not it is nice. Anyway, it will definitely not be useful. The idea that I would have to collect tree leaves from among all those pebbles using a pair of tweezers every autumn does not fill me with a feeling of harmony. A much better option would be to establish a blooming flower bed here, where you will not need to do anything for a couple of seasons, and yet it will delight you throughout the year. With its colours, blossoms, scents, brightness…”
How to choose your garden architect
Nowadays, there are many vocational schools and colleges which prepare their graduates to carry out the profession of a landscape architect. Students leave a particular school with very different technical knowledge. However, the name of a school is not always “a certificate of quality” with regard to a particular professional. The more important thing is how open the given architect is to the challenges that are presented to him or her. Choose carefully, if you decide to work with a landscape architect. It must be someone with whom you can talk freely and openly about your desires and lifestyle. Empathy plays a key role here.
Understanding and Respect
The architect should be particularly interested in your lifestyle, what you prefer, what pleases and inspires you and on the contrary what you dislike and this should apply from the very beginning of the process. In short, he or she should know as much as possible about your dreams and ideas. You should forget (at least initially and for the moment) that this involves such a practical issue as building a garden. A landscape architect must not only be willing to listen to your wishes, but should even actively ask you about them. He or she has to understand what you are looking for. That does not mean the architect will give the nod to everything you suggest, however, because a good architect will be willing to push back against some things.
“Undue obedience to the investor would be counterproductive – the client would perhaps not really get, what was originally agreed to,“ explains Mr. Ferdinand Leffler, who is convinced that it is not possible to create a well-established garden without a perfect knowledge of the investor’s wishes. The desired person should be able to accept you in discussions as an equal partner with whom he or she will consult every aspect of the design. A landscape architect who overlooks you or to the contrary panders to you or is unable to explain his or her opinions is definitely not a good choice.
Always measure twice
A garden is made to last for several decades. If you are not totally satisfied with the result of your mutual cooperation, you will either have to undergo the entire process again very soon or you will have to get used to living with a garden that you really dislike. This is why you should be demanding in the selection of a landscape architect and not rush your decision. “You, the investors, are as varied in your wishes, as we are, the landscape architects. And what is obvious to one person, would be a nightmare for somebody else. So choose a landscape architect, whose world view is close to that of yours. Once the cooperation is up and running, many of us feel bad about prematurely abandoning the established professional relationship,” says Mr. Ferdinand Leffler.
Ferdinand Leffler is a garden architect and designer and the founder of the Flera studio. He selects careful, reliable and creative architects for his team. He will help you to come up with a garden which is made to measure to meet your requirements and needs and so that you feel good in it: “We are advocates of the fact that the architecture of a property should express a story which has a beginning, gradation and a point… The garden should arise from the consistent interconnection of all the elements, functions and motifs which the client’s requirements bring to it and it should have a single author.
Source: Home Architect 03/2013
Text: Ferdinand Leffler, Dominika Záveská
Photo: Atelier Flera, Thinkstock, www.gardenshit.cz
Managing editor: Dominika Záveská