Landscape Designer Interview

Over the last five years I’ve been asked to do several interviews and speaking engagements because of The Landscape Design Site. And always I’m honored and glad to share my landscaping knowledge if time allows.

I would like to post the results to my last interview which was for a high school senior and her class project. I think it’s a good read with some good information because she asked some very good questions. I hope you enjoy and get something out of it.


The purpose of this interview is to gain more knowledge on the topic of garden design and how to create a nicer looking yard.


1. How long does it usually take to design a garden or yard?

My best designs are inspired and I can see them in my mind as soon as I walk into the project area. So they usually take 3 to 5 hours to map onto the computer and draw. On the other hand, most of my designs aren’t inspired and take thought related to principles, knowledge, experience of past designs, and requests of the client. These designs can take from one day to several weeks to complete.

2. Do you get materials from one supplier or shop around?

Quality, selection, and price are main concerns. It is in the best interest of my clients and my company to get the best price without sacrificing quality. It helps keep costs low and profits high.

3. How do you pick a style?

I generally pick a style in regards to the requests of the client. I also look at the styles and interests of the client and also the style of the home and its furnishings. For instance, if I see that the client is a golfer, I may suggest a putting green in the yard. If the home is Mediterranean, I would design Mediterranean.

4. What style or theme is the easiest to maintain?

Xeriscape (zee-ri-scape), or southwest. It is generally mostly groundcover, very little lawn, and low water use plants.

5. How do you go about picking colors for flowers?

Basic art. Colors have their contrast and complimentary colors that can be taken from a color wheel. I also use neutrals such as white and gray as they go with most anything.

6. Does it matter what type of ground cover is used and what usually works best?

Yes it matters. In high wind areas for instance, you wouldn’t want to use light bark or lava rock as it would just get blown all over the place. You would want to use a heavier rock or gravel. Expense also matters. Some groundcover rocks are very expensive and clients oftentimes opt for the cheapest rather than what they really want.

8. When you design a garden is everything drawn to scale and planned out or can you just start digging?

Until recently, everything has been drawn and plotted to scale on the computer. However, due to my company becoming established and the popularity of my designs, some folks are allowing me just to paint it as I see it and start. This is mostly for clients that don’t care about budget. Generally, you need to know how much materials and time so that you can place a bid. Also, people sometimes can’t visualize my ideas so I have to draw them.

9. Does the type of soil you have play a part in what will grow?

Without a doubt. We have a very alkaline soil here so we are limited to what will do well. However, if a client is willing to take the expense and also maintain the soil yearly, we can plant plants that grow better in other parts of the country.

10. How often do you deadhead plants? I’m not sure if I understand this question. 1) plants are trying to reproduce. Their flowers are their reproductive parts. If you deadhead them before they fully develop or are completely spent, they will develop more to continue to try to reproduce. 2) plants should be cut back and pruned in the Fall and Winter in dormancy.11. How often should the plants be fertilized?I see this different and don’t generally follow manufacturers directions. Instead of giving plants a “normal” feeding every six weeks or so, I suggest smaller feedings every week or watering. This is continual feeding and not a shot in the arm, starvation, shot in the arm, starvation, etc.

12. What products work best for weed control?

There are many wonderful products that I’m not licensed to use. I recommend Round up and Weed-B-gone.

13. Should there be a focal point in each yard, and where?

I suggest a focal point if you can make it work. Ideally, it should be able to be viewed from both inside the home and the most used place in the yard such as the patio, outdoor kitchen, or pool.

14. How can you make sure your garden design has balance and form?

Continuity and repetition of design elements. For instance, picking two or thre colors of plants and repeating them throughout the landscape.

If there is anything else you think that might be of some help to me feel free to write it:

Keep design simple and don’t try to incorporate too many elements. And also following a theme makes coming up with a design much easier.

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