Published in Clifton Park Living Magazine, April 2015

As winter releases its grip, and as an antidote to cabin fever, many homeowners begin to plan improvements to their landscape spaces. You dream about having a drink with friends on the pool patio and grilling steaks on the new built-in barbeque. You imagine the smells and the colors of the lush plantings that will surround you as you enjoy the warm weather this summer.

As you begin the process, remember that landscape design is more than achieving four-season color in your planting beds. A good landscape design professional should do two basic things when working for you. First, they should ask questions (the right questions) and listen intently to your answers. Some of those questions should be: What do you like most about your property? What do you dislike? How do you want to spend time in the landscape? What is the goal? To relax? To entertain? To play with kids? How often do you entertain and for how many people usually? Second, the designer should look beyond the immediate areas of interest (pool, deck, patio, etc.) and they must consider the inside of the house and how it relates to the exterior. The layout of the house, the traffic flows, the door and window locations, even the location of the restroom – these can all impact the exterior design of your yard. Understanding both your lifestyle and your sense of style will result in a more pleasing and functional space.

Imagine you are hosting a pool party with 15 or 20 guests. All the guests will not be on the deck or in the pool at the same time. Some will be in the kitchen gathering snacks, a few will be relaxing by the fire pit with a drink then a group will be in and around the pool. Add in a few wet children who need to use the restroom and you can see the importance of layout and traffic flow! When you can effortlessly flow between the inside and outside spaces and there are views and lines of site between the spaces it creates a wonderful experience. When your outdoor space is beautiful and easy to use then you will be more inclined to use it more often.

A good comprehensive landscape design will maximize your outdoor space and get you a better return on the investment you are making with your home improvement project. Realize that small tweaks to your interior space can have a big impact on how you enjoy your exterior space. Find a landscape designer who truly understands design and will listen to your needs and wishes.