Before embarking on any home renovation or landscaping projects, there are some key questions to ask, both of yourself and of the contractors or companies you may consider hiring. Of course there are the issues of budget and timing, keeping in mind that often projects go over budget and over schedule. But beyond those first steps, here are five questions you should fully consider before diving into a sustainable landscaping project, either on your own or with a hired professional.
What do you actually use your yard for? While many of us idealize how we’d like to use our outdoor spaces, fantasy doesn’t always align with reality. So, analyze your expectations and see if they match up with how you and your family utilize these areas. For instance, do you really need a huge rectangular lawn for the kids to be able to play a soccer game, or can you use that space in a different way?
What potential do you see in this property? Even the smallest outdoor areas are an extension of your living space, and with a creative eye, they can offer so much more than a patch of turf. Perhaps breaking up the property into a couple of different spaces will maximize its utility, creating a different view from the outside and a different feel—more expansive or private—from the inside.
What are the physical attributes of your property? Observe how sunny or shady it is on your property. Is there standing water there throughout winter and spring? What are the soil conditions? Getting a clear sense of these practical conditions can help you or your contractor determine the right plants for specific areas of the yard.
ASK YOUR CONTRACTOR
Where are you sourcing plants? When it comes to transparency, the landscaping world is beginning to cross the same threshold that the organic food world has been going through over the past few decades. As a client, you should not be shy asking about plant and material sourcing. The contractor should be able to account for what they intend to use, how it’s grown and where it came from. (If you’re going the DIY route, ask the nursery where you shop. Responsible nurseries are more than happy to provide that information for customers.)
Where can I see your work? Unfortunately, landscaping contractors and companies sometimes make claims to expertise they haven’t truly earned. Ask to see portfolios and examples of work, read reviews and customer testimonials, and ask to speak to previous clients to ensure that the quality of the contractor’s work is what their business purports it to be.