The early bird gets the worm couldn’t be more of an understatement when it comes to landscaping in Minnesota.

As we all gather this holiday season, plans for 2020 will likely be a recurring theme for many of us. In my role as one of the founders of Green Slate Design, I start prepping for the upcoming year no less than nine months out; as designers we do our best to impress this same mentality with our clients. Putting all of the pieces together, assembling and analyzing data and ultimately implementing a successful season is very much like building a complex landscape. To do it successfully requires time, dedication, patience and an indomitable spirit.

Good design is not an overnight process. The information gathering phase of any project is by far the most important step on a journey that will lead to a successful landscape, one that best fits the needs and desires of the client. On average, a quality design can take anywhere from three to five weeks to assemble, depending on the scope of the project and the level of detail required by the client and their municipal code. At Green Slate, we design from a user-oriented perspective, one that is continually refined through an iterative process that seeks the involvement of the user throughout the design phase. This is an important trait in a quality design firm, as many in the landscape industry seek to impart their style or personal preferences upon trusting homeowners. This isn’t to say that their results aren’t beautiful, but are they sustainable for the client? Are they in line with the client’s level of expectation of maintenance input in terms of hours or dollars? For Green Slate designers, the experience begins at the very first meeting where we learn our clients’ values, needs and dreams. At the same time, we make observations on the architectural style and time period of the house as well as surrounding structures, environmental factors, and the greater neighborhood to make educated decisions on how to maintain proper aesthetics, as well as providing an enduring, environmentally appropriate landscape that aligns with our clients’ vision.

The next step in this process is the presentation of a completed design and any supporting materials along with a project budget. Plan presentation is one of the most exciting parts of the process. This is when we get to share a brand new vision, one that was inspired by the client. Likewise, the client is able to give us feedback on what we’ve presented offering further inspiration and guidance towards a successful project. My partner and fellow designer Andrew Higgins says, “It’s important that as a client you feel comfortable enough to say ‘no.’ If you can’t communicate your reservations to your designer, then it’s not the right fit.” Client involvement throughout the process is paramount and once a plan has been presented its critical that open and honest feedback is flowing.

Once a design is formalized, the project is scheduled for an installation window. During the summer our schedule can be anywhere from four weeks to two months out depending upon how quickly projects move through our que. Delays from weather, alterations or additions to one project can affect the timing of all subsequent projects. As schedules fluctuate, we stay in touch with our clients to keep them abreast of any changes. With plans in place and an installation window established, we can also begin to procure materials. As a general rule most materials are readily available, however when working with other companies to acquire specialized products or fabricate custom designed pieces we can encounter delays.

Considering all of these factors it’s hard to over stress the importance of early planning. Landscaping is a custom industry. Every client, home and property are unique. Our responsibility as designers is to create a tailored space for your home and lifestyle. With a few exceptions, most everything we create is handcrafted. I often tell clients, we work in one of the most complex factories in the world; dodging rain, hail, winds and extreme heat. As each location is different, we never really know what we’ll dig into. Some of the most notable discoveries I’ve encountered along the way include bicycles, retired city dumps and Indian burial mounds, all of which required additional time to adjust and accommodate our planning. As designers at Green Slate we strive to give our clients the best we have to offer while keeping them grounded by providing realistic expectations that help to inform and guide them through a worthwhile process that we believe should be fun and rewarding from start to finish. Timing is critical to this so if your thinking of taking on the endeavor to create a new landscape or refresh an existing one start the process now.

Green Slate Design LLC is a local firm specializing in high end residential design and installation. We blend a user centered approach with responsive design techniques allowing us to achieve greater results for our clients. Landscapes that provide sustenance, relaxation and reinvigoration for all who inhabit them. We do this with local materials, qualitative work and innovative technologies. If your considering a project this year please contact us to learn how we might fit your needs.

Green Slate Design LLC