Common Questions. Common–Sense Answers
C. Elaine Brubaker, president of Brubaker Landscape Designs, answers some of her client’s
most common questions.
Q. What makes Brubaker
Landscape Designs unique? Why do your clients choose to work with
A. We are a full service Design-Build firm, from the first
steps of designing your unique sense of place through the process of building. We ensure that our designs are unique
and customized to our individual client’s needs; never do we take a “cookie cutter” approach. We also offer stewardship
services, caring for your landscape as it matures. Our team of specialists is involved in every project from beginning to end,
so that we can make necessary changes on-site as the project unfolds. This is very important for good landscape design; the
land’s natural features are very malleable, and plans often need to be adjusted to the landscape during the building process.
Q. How far ahead do I need to plan for my landscape project? How long does the process take?
A. Landscape design-build is a process that requires some
time. You should begin planning anywhere from a couple of months to one year before you want the work to be done,
depending upon the size and complexity of the project. The best time to contact a landscape design firm is during
the preceding fall or winter, before the busy spring and summer installation season arrives. Keep in mind that many
landscape designs can be executed in stages, over several years. In most cases, there is no reason to rush the process.
Q. How should I go about hiring someone to design and build my landscape?
A. Word-of-mouth referrals are a good place to start.
Talk to neighbors or friends whose landscapes you admire, then interview several potential landscape designers.
Ask about their values, experience and professional credentials. A good designer will ask you about your
preferences and the things that form your unique 'sense of place', as well as how you plan to use the landscape
and how much time and money you want to invest.
Q. Is my project too big/small for your company?
A. We choose to work with many different landscape
project sizes. This allows us to be versatile and efficient with our teams’ time and skills. If the
project doesn’t sound like a good fit for our company, we may recommend other companies that would
be better suited to your needs.
Q. What kind of return can I expect on my investment?
returns are quite good. Many surveys and studies have been done
on this topic, and the consensus seems to be that good landscape
design can add anywhere from 5 to 15% to a home’s selling
price, and that you can expect to recover 100 to 200% of your investment
at selling time. Surveys also have shown that returns
on landscape improvements are higher than on other types of
home improvements. Trees in particular provide tremendous value
in terms of reducing heating and cooling costs, preventing erosion
and flooding, etc.
Q. What should I expect to spend on landscape design and installation?
A. As with most things in life, you usually get
what you pay for when it comes to landscape design. Of course, costs vary tremendously depending upon factors such as
the size of the property, the nature of the design, the materials selected, adjustments made during the course of the
project and the time and skills required to complete the installation. A good rule of thumb is to consider investing
10% of your property’s net worth in the landscape.
Q. Why should I pay for a design when I can get it free from a nursery or
designer if I have them install it or if I buy the plants from them?
A. There really is no free lunch when it comes to
landscape design. When you are offered a “free” design, the design fees are often hidden in other
installation costs so it may appear that you are not being charged. When done properly, professional
landscape design has significant value for the customer, and designers should be paid accordingly.
You may discover that a thoughtful design can actually save you money by presenting specific goals that
can be accomplished over time.
Q. What is landscape architecture? What is landscape design?
A. Landscape architects work on a wide variety
of projects involving design and use of outdoor spaces and land – from city parks and residential gardens
to historic preservation. Landscape Architecture training and education incorporates knowledge and principles
from architecture, civil engineering and urban planning. Landscape Design is a subset – and the historical core – of the
landscape architecture profession. It deals specifically with site design, plans for the site’s structure and selection
of construction materials and plantings.
Q. Why can’t you give me a landscape estimate over the telephone?
A. Each landscape is customized to your needs
and the site’s specific challenges. After a visit to your property and further discussions with you, we would
be able to give you a range estimate of what could be expected.
Q. Could I hire you to do the design only, and I would install it myself or have others bid to install it?
A. From our experiences, we have found that
many of our designs are difficult for others to successfully install while accomplishing the intended
aesthetics and quality. Our designers are on-site, building or overseeing the projects they’ve designed.
This ensures quality and also allows for timely changes and adjustments, should the need arise.
Q. What will I have to do to take care of my landscape?
A. Although it’s popular to request “low-maintenance”
landscape designs, all landscapes need to be watched and tended to a certain degree. The first couple of years are crucial
to a landscape’s healthy development. With the assistance of our Stewardship professionals, we are dedicated to
informing and assisting you with the aftercare of your landscape and its proper development.
back to top