Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spring Dreaming

Along with my Spring Cleaning inevitably comes Spring Dreaming. It's the time of year I'm superhumanly attuned to any conversation including the words "renovation", "designer", "project" or "groundbreaking." It's the point in the season when whatever potted arrangement I've put together to brighten up the front door in late Winter can no longer draw my eye from the persistently dissatisfying and dysfunctional parts of the landscape around my home.

This turns out to be a great time to make a list. I break mine into two columns: "Things to Address Now" and "Future Projects." The more specific the list, the easier it is to determine potential costs.

Short-term projects might be anything from adding a color au currant to the patio, to turning an entire planting bed over to local natives or some other theme. Longer term projects might be creating a graceful path between sidewalk and home, or adding seat walls and a barbecue patio to the underused space just outside of the kitchen.

It's all around you. Window displays of local shops are a favorite source of color inspiration. Inquiring about a plant in a neighbor's garden often sparks an inspiring and ongoing conversation. Cutting and posting photos from home and garden magazines lets you "live" with an idea for a while before making any changes.

Buying Time:
From garden mentors, to designers providing consultation time, to contractors with the knowledge to assess just how much of an undertaking your project may be, paying a flat fee or session rate for valuable time with a professional is a smart start to projects. To get the most out of a session, be prepared with a list of questions, be ready to take good notes, and be sure you have a clear understanding of what the consultation entails. Follow up, such as developing a design concept sketch or a project cost estimate may be billed at an additional fee.

Bottom Line:
It's truly essential to establish not only your project goals but what funds are available for both short- and long-term projects. Good designers and contractors will work with you to set and achieve reasonable goals within your stated budget so you can finish planning your projects and start planning how to enjoy your new outdoor places.

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