The New Normal: Elevating Landscape Design and the Landscape Industry

Perennial Garden Bench

To quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin’.”  With the COVID pandemic hitting the United States hard in March of 2020, many industries were deeply affected by the regulations that were put into place to keep people safe.  We saw restaurants close the doors, retailers go out of business, and many companies that were able to survive, allowed their employees to work from home.  It was a trying year for all of us to say the least, and hopefully one we’ll never have to see again in our lifetime.  

 The landscape industry was no exception and took a very hard blow in the spring of 2020 by having to change gears quickly and figure out the safest way for designers and workers to not only meet with new and existing clients but also be able to send crews to work on jobs without getting sick themselves.  Some companies were able to elude the COVID virus, some were not so lucky.  

One of the major challenges with dealing with COVID, especially early on, when information was all over the place in terms of what was considered safe was meeting with new clients to discuss their landscape design needs.  Generally, in most cases it works like this:  Client calls the landscape company and asks to talk to a designer.  The designer sets up a time to call the client back and discuss the project.  The designer sets up an appointment to meet the client at their home.  The designer spends typically an hour on site, asking questions, taking photos, taking measurements, and showcasing previous work and design examples.  The designer, in-between all of their projects and site meetings, makes time (somehow) to produce a quality landscape design for the client.  The designer usually, sets another appointment up to meet the client at their home, to go over the landscape plan and pricing.  The designer than awaits for feedback from the client.  The client typically asks for revisions.  The designer than takes that drawing (in-between their busy schedule of project management, design and estimating) and sends back the revisions to the client.  If all works for both designer and client, a deal is made and a time is set to begin work on the project.  For quality landscape design/build firm, or even a small “mom and pop” landscape shop,  it’s not uncommon for this process to take a month, two, or even more.  

Having worked in many facets of the landscape industry from material sales, to fabrication, to design and build, the realization that our industry desperately needed to elevate the way we used technology to help us be more efficient became even more important during the height of the COVID pandemic. 

A small realization occurred to me that not every residential homeowner needs a landscape designer or landscape architect to be onsite to produce a quality landscape design.  For years, the designs that I have produced essentially came from notes and photos that I took while I was quickly gathering data at each property that I visited.  In some cases a potential client, forgot that we were meeting at a specific time, and a simple phone call as I walked around the property was all I needed to produce some of the best work that I ever created.  Why couldn’t that be the case with many more landscape projects?  

Online Landscape Design is not exactly new, but it is young in its evolution and growing rapidly.  The COVID pandemic made me realize that we absolutely need to employ technology better to not only keep ourselves and other safe, but to also save our clients and ourselves time and money.  

So how does it work?  The handful of companies that I know about each operate with the same goal in mind, typically delivering different results and operating with different methods.   My company Landscape Architectural operates with the goal of providing my clients with the highest quality of design at a fair and reasonable fee, quickly and consistently.  We work for both homeowners and contractors who need an extra hand to help them produce quality landscape design work.  

The process is simple and easily explained on my website LandscapeArchitectural.com or (landsarc.com) for short.  First step is your consultation.  Contacting us to discuss your project and project needs is where we begin.  Whether we discuss over the phone, through email correspondence, or video chat, we’ll get to the bottom of what you are wanting to achieve, what your style is, and what your concerns are.  

The next step is providing us with photos, video, site plans, elevations, plats or anything related to your property/house that will help our team accurately design your landscape space.  We couple the data you provide us with satellite and aerial imagery to piece everything together to give you the best results whether we are working in 2D or 3D.  

We then get to work!  About halfway into the design process before we detail anything, we email you a design preview of what we are working on so you know we are on the right track.  This is the first time that any design revisions should be made.  With better direction, we can then narrow down the design to produce for you exactly what you want.  

After we make the changes, we send back out via email your final landscape design presentation in 2D and/or 3D photorealistic model renderings.  If there are any small additional changes that need to be made, we can certainly handle that for you at no extra charge.  

That’s all there is to it!  We have found that the process to do all of this, not only produces incredible results, but does so in a way that limits the amount of time that you need to spend with a designer and generally produces quality landscape designs efficiently and for a very fair price.  

Great, so you have a design, now what?  One characteristic that sets us apart from other online landscape design companies is that we will provide the Do-It-Yourselfers installation and maintenance guidance in our deliverable package to you.  Or, we can certainly help with your process of finding a qualified contractor in your area to bid and build the landscape plan.  There are a lot of talented contractors that can do the work in this country, but they have limited time or skills to do the design.  We know how to find these people, and certainly able to make the connection between you and them.  

Times really are a changin’, and the landscape industry is going to have to change with it.  Technology has made it easier to communicate, and to accurately obtain data that would otherwise be impossible to obtain without a visit to the site.  We are not at a point yet, where every single property can be designed remotely, but there isn’t one yet that I have come across that couldn’t be designed completely and accurately online.  Don’t hesitate if you are thinking about reaching out.  We’ll provide you with the guidance and design you’ll need to get started on the landscape of your dreams.