Top tips for a better investment and landscape, from design through construction
What is Design-Build Landscaping?
Design-Build landscaping is exactly how it sounds: one team provides both the design and installation of the landscape, rather than splitting those services between companies. Design-build landscaping is quite common and provides multiple benefits. Unfortunately, a homeowner or building owner will often hire a landscape contractor to install plants and irrigation without design. This is not the ideal scenario. As with any type of building, it is always best to begin with a design.
When the same company performs both design and installation, their professionals work together often and can provide a more seamless delivery The teamwork involved in the design-build process for landscape construction can add a lot of value to your finished landscape. Often an integration of architects, designers, engineers, and builders, the design-build process takes advantage of professional, licensed experts working together from concept to finished construction. The goal of this integrated process is to fulfill your priorities of landscape design and budget. At Madrone Landscapes we believe strongly in the design-build process because the benefits are twofold: it allows us to do incredible work with and build great relationships with both our peers and our clients.
Design-Bid-Build vs. Design-Build: What are the Differences?
Design-Bid-Build: The design-bid-build process is common in the construction industry for clients who want separate design and construction firms. A landscape designer will provide plans for you, and then you will ask contractors to bid the plans. The design can go quickly if there are no cost limitations discussed. Once the contractors provide their costs to install the project, you may be shocked to see how much it will cost to build. This is when you or the contractor decides how to change the design to fit within the construction budget (this process is called value engineering, where items are removed from a plan or less expensive options are chosen to reduce overall cost). You may also go back to the landscape designer to re-design (typically for an extra fee). In design-bid-build, you select a contractor based on the bid price. It then becomes your responsibility to orchestrate all of the design and construction activities – including introducing the contractor to the designer.
Design-Build: At Madrone Landscapes, we specialize in the design-build process. Our landscape designers not only help you with the initial design, they also help navigate any obstacles encountered during construction. We provide construction cost estimates during the design process (for more information, see https://madronelandscapes.com/services/design/). This usually adds time to the overall design time, for good reason. Knowing construction costs during the design process allows you to make decisions on where to spend money and keeps the plan within the desired budget. A cost-informed design means the value engineering is done well before the project starts. The entire team will be working together with the landscape designer to make sure that there are few unforeseen lapses between designs or construction activities. For new construction, this will include your engineers, architects, and builders. For custom residential updates, your design-build team becomes your expert advocate through design and construction and we handle scheduling and coordination with all parties involved.
Five Tips When Choosing Design-Build Landscaping
1. Know what you need/want before you start.
Often, a client will come to us with a list of items they want designed into their landscape, such as a patio, wall, fountain, or pergola. What they may actually mean is that they need a shady place to entertain guests with pretty things to look at. While your spouse may want a fountain, he or she may appreciate boulders and flowers just as much. When you prioritize your goals before starting design, you can prevent being caught off guard during the design process. Design is almost always a team decision. If you and your family can align your wants and needs before the design starts, the design will turn out better and go more quickly.
2. Establish a construction budget.
Before starting the design process, establish a budget or range for what you intend to spend on construction, and share that information with your designer. This will help them design within range. Typically, the construction cost of landscapes is between 10 to 25 times the design fee, although this may vary.
3. Take your time with budget decisions.
During the beginning of the design process decisions are easy; we refer to this as the honeymoon period. You may find yourself saying, “I love that stone veneer, it looks just like the picture I saw on Houzz!” After construction costs are introduced, major design elements may be on the chopping block. Do you keep the outdoor kitchen, or the stone paving? Allow yourself time, so you don’t rush these decisions.
4. Trust your gut – and your landscape team.
Taking on a big project and the resulting investment of your funds will greatly affect your daily life. You need experts you can trust to help you achieve your goals. If you don’t have a level of trust with your landscape team, the relationship and project will not work. You need to feel comfortable giving them both positive and negative feedback, and they need to feel comfortable giving you good and bad news. Your designer will not only be helping you with the initial design, but also will be helping to navigate any obstacles encountered during construction.
5. Communicate often and clearly.
During design and construction, changes happen. To best facilitate these changes, we will ask a lot of questions to make sure we are designing efficiently. Whether you would like to give us artistic license on decisions, or you have particular opinions that need to be known, it is important you communicate your preferences clearly.
A Better Investment and Landscape
It’s our experience that the design-build process produces a better product with stronger teamwork and a healthy working relationship. The process takes time to do well. Expect two to six months of design before construction for custom residential updates, and often longer for new home or new commercial construction. Being well prepared can shorten this time frame. If you have new construction, you should consider hiring your landscape designer at the same time that you hire an architect. We strongly believe that the design-build relationship you foster with us will make you feel good about the investment and the landscape you create.
Do you have additional questions about the design-build process and its benefits? Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at 805-466-6263.
Top tips for selecting a landscape maintenance team
From weekly or seasonal maintenance to event preparation or landscape enhancements, here are the top questions to ask to ensure you hire a licensed landscape maintenance team who will meet your needs.
1. How long have you been in business? What kind of insurance and licensing do you have?
A company that has been in business ten years or more is likely a reliable, trustworthy contractor. Whether you are a homeowner who needs weekly maintenance or a commercial property owner who needs pest control, check the company’s portfolio to see whether they have expertise on projects like yours.
Madrone Landscapes has been in business for over 40 years. We offer weekly gardening services for residential clients in North San Luis Obispo County and estate maintenance for the broader San Luis Obispo County, Northern Santa Barbara County, and Southern Monterey County. We also offer high quality commercial, municipal, and HOA maintenance services for all of San Luis Obispo County.
For additional consideration, ensure that your landscaping company has workers compensation insurance, general liability insurance, bonded workers, and appropriate state licensing. For weed, pest, and disease control, your maintenance contractor will need to be spray certified.
Madrone Landscapes has workers compensation insurance and general liability insurance. Our landscape maintenance crews are bonded, and we maintain a California state landscape contractor license.
2. Do you have specialists on staff? What services do you offer?
Professional landscaping firms will employ experts with degrees in landscape architecture and horticulture. They should have expertise in landscape irrigation, as well as a thorough knowledge of the type of plants you have growing in your landscape design.
At Madrone Landscapes, our degreed and trained landscape designers and horticulturists establish and maintain our clients’ landscapes in superior condition. Our landscape maintenance teams are led by Taryn Via, Maintenance Manager. With a background in property management, Taryn has over 13 years of experience working directly with homeowners, HOAs, and commercial property owners.
Homeowners, commercial property owners, and HOAs all require different services for different properties. Ensure the company you hire provides the services you require. Traditionally, maintenance projects may include mowing and editing, irrigation repair, fertilizing, dead-heading, and mulching. Larger projects may need specialized maintenance at different intervals throughout the year. Consider whether you need seasonal maintenance, event preparation, and/or regular landscape enhancement.
3. How do your maintenance crews practice sustainability? Do you offer alternatives to chemicals?
If sustainability is important to you, be sure to ask about alternatives to fertilizer and chemicals. Companies at the forefront of landscaping will employ methods such as compost tea fertilizer, integrated pest management, and organic fertilizers, ensuring your yard is a safe and healthy place for your family.
At Madrone Landscapes, we are known for sustainable practices. We focus on plant health and the effective use of water. Our Healthy Gardens program introduces organic methods to fertilizer and weed, pest, and disease control.
4. Can you provide us with an estimate? How do you communicate with clients?
A professional landscape contractor will provide you an estimate tailored to your individual needs. After visiting your project and listening to your wants and requirements, they will ask you questions to determine your exact needs.
Once you’ve accepted your estimate, your contract ensures you know what to expect on each visit, from weekly maintenance to seasonal maintenance, plant replacement, and irrigation repairs.
At Madrone Landscapes, each contract is different—just like each project. Madrone Landscapes provides a customized written estimate for each project. Once we’ve discussed your estimate, we put together a landscape maintenance contract specifically for you. Our Maintenance Manager, Coner Boaen, is the one point of contact for our maintenance clients.
Check with your landscape maintenance contractor to see whether they will have an account manager assigned to you. Will they call you to schedule appointments, or simply send notices in your invoice?
5. Will you provide references?
In addition to checking Yelp to see how the company ranks, ask for references, including addresses. Check the properties to see if they are maintained at the level you expect for your own property, whether residential or commercial. Madrone Landscapes recently was awarded “Top-rated Local” for ranking in the top-five landscape companies in the state for customer satisfaction.
We are happy to provide a list of references for you to call and testimonials for your review!
Do you have additional questions? Call us at the office and ask for Coner Boaen, Maintenance Manager at (805) 466-6263.
With a modern design style, this family retreat features patio spaces, a deck, fireplace, water feature, lawn, play area, hot tub, retaining walls, and railing.
The main vision for this Paso Robles landscape design was to create terraced levels to accommodate family and entertain guests. This was naturally achieved using the landscape’s significant slope, which simultaneously introduced challenges and invited the opportunity for both integrated and distinctly separate spaces. With retaining walls in place and a design featuring railings and gates for the safety of children, we prioritized creating a secure design without sacrificing beauty and the natural aesthetics of the landscape.
The entertainment patio is tucked into a transitional space between an upper play area and lower deck. A fireplace and water weir feature frame two of its sides leaving it open on the third side to views of a native oak woodland.
The landscape’s functional and striking modern style was created using clean lines and uniform design elements such as concrete, cable rails, and a simple plant palette.
Designed to succeed in the Atascadero climate, this Mediterranean-style oasis provides ample space for play, multi-functional entertainment features, and the tropical airs of the lush plant selections. The 7,000 SF design-build project is shaping up to be an inviting retreat for family and friends.
Its multi-purpose entertainment spaces include a pool, fire feature, outdoor kitchen, and reduced-footprint lawn that transitions to a patio. The custom kiva fireplace wall is built to warm colder nights and cozy up the recessed seating area just past the pool and mountable movie projector screen. The outdoor kitchen and bar seating make for picture-perfect socializing and party hosting.
Chock-full of fun elements and smooth transitions, this thoughtful and cohesive landscape is sure to be a delightful retreat for both family and guests.
Interested in talking to us about your landscape design? Contact our team at [email protected] or (805) 466-6263.
Set in the rolling Atascadero hills, this 2.5-acre property is undergoing significant architectural renovations and a landscape transformation to achieve a family-oriented space for fun and relaxation. Planned as a family vacation home on the Central Coast, the new guest quarters, pool, and significant landscape improvements maximize the space near the house and infuse an elegant Mediterranean character to enhance the refreshed architectural style.
Using a colorful central planting palette and strong native transitions, Madrone designed a bold and beautiful setting. Features include a fruit orchard, a fire pit nestled into the front slope, redwood veggie beds, all new irrigation, a central pool deck and patio layout, planting throughout, stone walls, two water fountains, various seating areas, a bocce court, and semi-formal pathways through undisturbed zones.
Madrone has coordinated phased landscape improvements with the architectural firm, Isaman design, to transform large portions of the parcel. Phase 1 installation is already underway, where we are installing a dozen fruit trees near the rear of the property and a native plant screen at the front.
Interested in talking to us about your landscape design? Contact our team at [email protected] or (805) 466-6263.