Tim Murray, Landscape Architect at Murray’s, explains why you should always design first.
After another long winter, spring is finally returning to Newfoundland & Labrador. Warmer weather means more time outside and more time to imagine our ideal garden, patio, deck, or kitchen garden.
What’s your plan? Before you start digging away with reckless abandon, consider working with a landscape professional to make a design first.
Why bother designing when you can just dive right into construction? Our very own Tim Murray, landscape architect at Murray’s, explains the benefits of getting a professional landscape design done before you start your work!
1. A Design Addresses Your Goals Early
Any landscape project considers a diverse set of inputs, resources, and constraints. A design completed by a landscape professional will factor in all these elements to determine what’s in the realm of possibility.
“It’s a way of addressing your objectives early on,” says Murray. “A way of identifying both budgets as well as local materials and labour available to accomplish the project.”
You stand a much better chance of remaining on budget and schedule if you plan up front.
“It’s easier to put it on paper in the initial phases rather than construct something without a design,” says Murray.
2. Landscape Designers Prioritize Low Maintenance
Over the years, Murray has concluded that most of his clients want two things—a complete landscape of their property but—perhaps more importantly—a complete landscape that involves low maintenance.
“They want something that looks aesthetically pleasing or has a certain function, but they don’t want to invest a ton of time in maintenance.”
The good news is “low maintenance” is a sustainable and forward-thinking goal. The landscape architects and designers at Murray’s are experts at finding a solution which meets these goals simultaneously.
Whether it be walkways, decks, or retaining walls – “the materials used to create those elements are considered with maintenance (and budget) in mind.”
Beyond the hard surfaces, Murray’s garden beds are designed in a sustainable way that works off the local environmental conditions. The right plant in the right place pays off with healthy gardens that require less maintenance. The growing availability of native plants deepens this connection and supports our local ecology.
3. Landscape Designers Address Specific Environmental Challenges
It’s probably no surprise to anyone who has spent more than a few days in Newfoundland and Labrador that we have some… ahem… “challenging” environmental conditions. The art of landscape design and architecture meets these Newfoundland conditions with know-how and design.
Whether it be sun (or lack thereof), shade, varying microclimates, soil conditions, precipitation, or wind, all of these impact what will be successful on a site.
The landscape professionals at Murray’s are experts in choosing design elements to suit the site-specific conditions.
“Early on, we go through a site analysis phase,” says Murray. “This documents existing conditions of the site. We also do an opportunities and constraints analysis to identify what can go where.”
Click the button below for a full breakdown of a landscape project’s lifecycle—from initial consultation to completion and maintenance.
4. A Landscape Designer Saves You Time and Money
You’ve likely heard the old carpentry adage, “Measure twice, cut once.” Whatever you build, it is an investment you will likely live with for some time. Perhaps it will pass on to the next generation. Good decisions, and bad ones, will be laid down at the beginning of the project.
“If you go into the construction phase immediately without a vision,” says Murray, “you will most likely miss out on the opportunity to think about how the entire project is cohesive, how elements relate to each other, where there might be potential savings in certain phases.”
As an example, in the grading phase of a project, a professional landscape designer will factor in multiple elements (such as retaining walls, decks, patios, fences, etc.) all at once, thus saving you time and money by removing the risk of having to re-do work that was done in an unplanned, piece-meal fashion.
5. Well-Designed Landscaping Increases your property’s Value
While property valuation is a complex art, “there’s an old belief that a good landscape job increases the real estate value by 25%,” says Murray, “and I believe it.”
In certain established neighbourhoods around the North-East Avalon peninsula, for example, higher property values are correlated with established landscapes, posits Murray. Places like Waterbridge Road, Poplar Avenue, King William Estates—the landscape has been established for 30-50 years or more. “There was a vision set at some point to plant trees and then do more intensive gardening. That foresight served to create desirable neighbourhoods.”
Starting with a vision—it may seem nebulous in the beginning, but over time it has a tremendous effect. Think of it as an investment, not a cost.
6. Landscape Designers Consider All Pre-existing Conditions
Any landscape job must conform to local, provincial, and federal regulations. Luckily, the professionals at Murray’s are experts in these matters.
But the technicalities don’t stop there! You must also analyse property lines, easements, and buried utilities—both from a legal and a safety perspective. All these matters can get very complex, very quickly.
Simply put, “we design with codes and standards at top of mind,” says Murray.
So, How Do I Get Started on My Landscape Design?
The first step is to contact the landscape professionals at Murray’s! You can call us at 709-895-2800 or email us at Info@MurraysGardens.com.
We’ll start by discussing the scope of your desired work, your location, your budget, and your timeline and go from there!