How to Successfully Work with An Online Landscape Designer

Posted on October 6, 2021


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Setting yourself up for a successful project

You’re ready to design your outdoor space online – great! Now what?

We asked our community of landscape designers and builders: 

  • What makes a great online design client? 

  • What makes an online design project run smoothly? 

  • How can online design clients set themselves up for success? 

Read on for their advice!


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Decisions, Decisions

As a client, there are a few key decisions to make before launching your online design project. 


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Budget

It doesn’t have to be to the penny, but a ballpark budget estimate will help your designer make appropriate decisions for your project. 

Not familiar with the cost of landscape designs? You aren’t alone. Yardzen’s onboarding flow will provide you with cost estimates for each design feature you may consider including in your project. Looking for a grand vision with no budget cap? That’s fine too. We’ll keep a tally of your design costs so you have a rough understanding of the estimate you could expect to receive when installing your dream landscape.

Start estimating the price of your project with our Guide to Landscape Costs.


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Priorities

Before your designer gets to work, take time to prioritize the features you’d like to include in your design.

Every design project eventually involves choices about what to keep and what to omit. Setting priorities at the outset simplifies this process, and aligns the entire Design and Build team around common goals.  

Don’t worry, priorities can shift as you go – this is often a part of the design process.

Should it stay or should it go?

Did you just build a new deck and don’t want anyone to touch it? Is that cracked pavement killing you? Make an itemized list of anything that absolutely must remain or be removed, and your designer will follow it accordingly. 

On the fence about whether to keep or remove certain features in your yard?  No problem, just let us know about these “maybes” during onboarding and your designer will figure out a solution.


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Style

Straight lines or curves? Stone or concrete? Colors or neutrals? 

It’s important to get a feel for what landscape style you’d like to apply to your design before you start working with your designer. 

Seeking inspiration? Yardzen’s design gallery has some great examples to consider. 

Not sure what style you want? No problem, your online landscape designer is happy to steer the style ship. Just let them know a bit about what you like, and they’ll take it from there.

Do I need to research anything before I begin?

The short answer is no. Yardzen’s simple onboarding process only requires that you share your budget, priorities, and some basic information about your property. Zero landscape expertise required.  

Two caveats: 

  • If you are a part of an HOA, live in a historical district, or your property is subject to another regulatory agency, you will need to determine any special rules that apply to landscape designs on your property and share them with your design team.

  • For those who have access to surveys or other technical drawings that provide elevations or dimensions for your home and property, these drawings are very helpful, and worth digging up.

Communication is Key

Design projects live or die by communication. This is especially true when working with an online landscape designer. 

How can you communicate effectively in a design project? 

Use the appropriate medium 

Text is great to explain priorities, but starts to fail when describing vision – “beautiful” can mean ten different things to ten different people. 

You’ll need images to help communicate the look and feel you hope to achieve, so take care to select inspiration images that tell the story you want your designer to hear. Choose pictures that show entire spaces and objects – the whole plant, not just a leaf.  Above all, be sure to add text captions to any inspiration images you share – tell us what you like in each image, so your designer doesn’t have to guess.


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Capture the full property 

In lieu of a site visit, we rely on images and video to accurately understand your existing property. The photos are an easily accessible reference, while the video cements how each space in the property flows into the next.

Take care to include your entire yard – no blank spots, please – and provide extra detail on any tricky or focus areas. 

Pro tip: when photographing slopes, include a view looking perpendicular across the slope, ideally with a fence or wall in the background – this helps to make the slope angle clearer.

The Goldilocks Rule

Not too much, not too little, just the right amount. 

It’s easy to understand how not sharing enough information can leave a designer in the dark. In fact, sharing too much information can cause even more difficulty than not sharing enough.

Design is a process of winnowing down to the most essential and most effective features. Communication about design is most effective when it takes the same approach. By narrowing down your feedback to the key points and communicating them concisely, you’ll set your designer up for success. 


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Align Expectations

Online landscape design operates differently than a traditional practice, and therefore requires a different set of expectations going into the process.

So what should you expect?


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Structured Feedback

Yardzen clients share feedback at designated stages in the design process, namely at the outset and after receiving a design iteration. 

A client may take all the time they need to share feedback, but once they have finished doing so, we ask that they withhold further comments until they receive the next iteration of their design. 

This alternating rhythm of focused feedback and uninterrupted design time is central to an efficient design process. Expect to give the designer a little space to work their magic.


Conceptual Design

Yardzen designs aspire to be as accurate and realistic as possible, but we rely on the contractors in our community to make final adjustments that adapt your designs to the specifics of your property. Expect your design to hit the big picture ideas, stylistic details, and botanical wishlists, but also to lean on the contractor for locking in precise dimensions, slopes, and responses to light patterns.

Change is Good

Design is iterative. Sometimes the first iteration is spot on, but more often a client will want to revise parts of their initial design. This is normal, and healthy! 

Even as you move into the installation phase, you can expect to continue the process of adjusting the design working directly with a contractor. 

Revisions often revolve around budget – some things must be removed for others to remain. While we try to address these tradeoffs in onboarding, your design and build teams expect these situations to arise from time to time, and are ready to help you navigate them.


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Trust the Process

We get it: design can be stressful, and often coincides with other stressors, be it a wedding, a move to a new home, the addition of a new child or pet to the family. Working with an online landscape designer may feel uncomfortable at first to those expecting a traditional design experience, but when you embrace the process, it works out beautifully. 

Follow the tips above, dig in, and enjoy!

Start your outdoor renovation today.

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