Landscape orientation

Creative professionals reinvent landscapes with exciting new directions

Above: A good designer can introduce new and unexpected techniques. Pacifica Landscape Works received a 2009 Landscape Award of Excellence for this creative use of plant silhouettes.

Creative professionals reinvent landscapes with exciting new directions

You might be an avid green thumb or you might savour your outdoor living space viewed from a chaise – glass of wine in hand – with friends all around. You might enjoy your yard’s functionality: a playground for the kids, a patch for the terrier, and the tent trailer parked alongside for quick weekend escapes. Whatever your garden means to you, it can benefit from a professional’s keen eye, design sense and installation experience.

Landscaping pays

Find out how a well-installed landscape can increase the value of your home >>

Beginning with a good landscape design will maximize the space for all your uses. A landscape designer will align your list of needs with the area available, and will draft a plan that combines those needs and their professional experience and insight in a meaningful, artful, and well-structured way. Your landscape designer can interpret the mood of your household – modern and glamorous, bright and uplifting, playful and casual – through the shapes, style, materials and plants he or she selects. To do just that, the designer will need to rely on an interesting combination of knowledge, skill and talent.

Acacia Landscape Services of Victoria
This 2009 award-winning Mediterranean-inspired garden was created by landscape architecture and construction company, Acacia Landscape Services of Victoria. The steep site was negotiated with an impressive series of stone stairs to make the entire landscape accessible.

2010 Healthy Garden Guide

More on sustainable gardening >

A Landscape Industry Certified Designer will have about seven years of education and experience combined, and has passed a detailed exam. The designer will also have undergone a juried portfolio review. People often ask what the difference is between a landscape designer and a landscape architect. When it comes to residential gardens, both designers and architects may be qualified to create a design and be sure it is implemented properly. The most important thing is to interview the designer – even if there is an initial consultation fee – and check their references, to ensure there is a fit both personally and by qualification.

Whether you work with a landscape designer or architect, your consultations through the design process are your best opportunity to communicate the most important aspects that will influence the final outcome. Look through books and magazines to get a sense of the styles you are drawn to. Communicate your likes and dislikes. What you don’t like is just as important as what you do. Also discuss your installation budget, and work with the designer to include or eliminate items, without removing what is most important to you. Then talk to your designer about the process for getting the project installed.

Lyons Landscaping
The owners’ passion for golf and a need for a low-maintenance yard inspired this Kamloops landscape. Lyons Landscaping Ltd. won a 2009 Landscape Award of Excellence for adding lushness to the arid climate by introducing xeriscape techniques… and a putting green using artificial turf.

When it comes time to build your dream garden, you may work from the design yourself, in whole or in part. Or you may choose to have a landscape installation professional implement it for you. Consider the level of expertise and equipment required for what you and your designer have envisioned. It’s a good idea to check references, and ask for proof of Workers’ Compensation coverage when you bring in a landscape contractor. Also ask for the company’s qualifications: a Landscape Industry Certified Technician has demonstrated proficiency through hands-on skill testing; a Landscape Industry Certified Manager has a combination of 2,000 hours of experience, and has passed a test proving he or she has the business skills required to run a credible and successful operation.

Pacifica Landscape Works
Installing pools, terraces, outdoor kitchens, and handling heavy rock requires extreme skill and care. Pacifica Landscape Works crafted this 2009 award-winning retreat from what was once a pasture.

When you’ve made a choice, get the installation plan and quote in writing. Also speak to the contractor about the BC Landscape Standard, or look for reference to it on your design. Your contractor should be able to show you a copy of this 132-page document, and guarantee that site and schedule standards have been met. If you are undertaking a large job, you may want a copy for yourself; you can purchase one from the BC Landscape & Nursery Association.

SoundGarden Landscape & Design
This one-acre Pemberton Valley garden is a multi-award winner. SoundGarden Landscape & Design Ltd. received kudos in 2008 for the impeccable installation, and then took home a 2009 Landscape Award of Excellence for its meticulous upkeep.

Maintenance of your landscape should be discussed from the first consultation, and be included in the design process. Be sure your designer and installer are aware of the amount of maintenance you are willing to do, or to pay for, long-term. If it’s a sizeable project, or if you want to have regular attention paid to maintenance, you should inquire about an additional maintenance plan. Think about this early on. Many landscape installation companies offer a maintenance division; many more can recommend landscape maintenance companies who they know and trust. Knowing precisely what level of care is required allows you to better plan your budget – and your free time!