Choosing a Designer

91I am happy to discuss at great length my process for designing a landscape. I plan to go over this in excruciating detail, for those who can last! Tools and skills are just that-nothing more, and nothing less. I would reveal anything and everything-and still be completely confident that I have something worthwhile to offer.  I have made a living almost 25 years, designing.  Enough said.

92I have plenty of clients that are eminently able to be on their own. Not professional designers, they shortchange their talent and heart.  It has been my good fortune to have clients of all kinds, with talent and heart. I know this better than most.

93But I also believe I have something to add to a design discussion that is mine alone.  It is all I have to offer a client-after they correctly assume I am educated in design theory, the history of landscape design, both classic and contemporary, horticulture etc.    Any client can assume designing is the love of my life-that I am willing and able.  I am also a better than a good horticulturist-I meet few with my depth. But beyond my experience, I have a voice which is mine alone.

Not every client is for me. I am not good for every client.  A client/designer relationship depends on a certain rapport that is there, or not there. It takes age and history for a designer to get to the point when they know they are not good for someone, and say so. After 20 some years, what I do is less about commerce, and more about a life.


Great client/designer relationships result in extraordinary work.  We cannot do without each other. Clients rely on this cue from me, even when they don’t know to ask.  I tell them they do not have a horticultural emergency, they have a housekeeping issue. I sometimes tell them grass will better serve them-and here is how to make the shapes of your grass beautiful.  I refuse tell a client about what I cannot do for them.  I will figure out how I can do for them-no matter what that involves.  This is a personal goal-to tell everyone what I might do for them, even if it does not involve me. Anyone who comes to my store with photos of their property gets 20 minutes of my time and interest.  Fair enough.  Beyond this point, I charge to design-this is what I do, that enables me to buy groceries, and pay my mortgage.

If you are trying to find a designer, ask people whose landscapes you love who helped them. If you are considering a designer you have heard about, call them up.  Ask for sites you can visit, and see from the street. Read their website, start to finish. Talk to them. How they deal with you, on the phone for three minutes, speaks much about how a long term design relationship will go. You are an equal participant.  Who you are, and the life you lead, is very important. Make that clear.  Anything you can make clear about your life, and what you love, will pay off.

Establishing community with others is always hard.  Its as hard for me, as it is for you.  That said, lets both of us try harder-in the interest of a most beautiful project.


  1. I love the blog and have been showing it off to friends. Thanks for sharing your secrets and talents to the world wide web.

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