I recently met with a young couple who were interested in developing several areas of their backyard, with the ultimate goal of having a complete, cohesive outdoor living space.

In their eagerness to get started, they had contracted with a deck builder who was already excavating the property when I arrived for my first visit with the couple. I immediately recognized that my job – as a designer and salesman – had just become more difficult.


Lack of proper planning now threatened to bloat the job costs beyond the couple’s budget, and potentially put some of their most wished for design elements out of reach.

Ideally, ALL the elements that they were hoping to add to their landscape should have been planned for – and some even installed – prior to undertaking the deck project. Their new deck, even though it would undoubtedly be beautiful and may very well have been part of the new overall design, would now be ‘in the way’ when installing the additional elements.

The effort that would be required to work around and protect this new deck from damage while other work was being done around it would add many otherwise unnecessary labor hours to this project – not to mention the possibility that the same equipment and machinery used to excavate for the deck would need to be brought in a second time – at additional expense.

It’s really a shame, and I truly felt for this couple. As a landscape professional, nothing makes me happier than designing and installing a space that brings joy and fulfills all a client’s wishes.

Be eager! Be excited! But please…realize that proper planning is key. After gathering your thoughts and ideas, it is well worth consulting with a seasoned professional who can ‘see’ the overall picture of what you are ultimately hoping to achieve and can offer guidance on the most efficient and cost-effective way to get there. In most cases, the only investment needed for an initial consultation is time.

And the satisfaction of getting everything you hoped for? Priceless.

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