Houston landscape architects are much more than gardeners and lawn maintenance professionals. They are degreed professionals whose training includes botany, irrigation science, construction, and outdoor lighting techniques. These multi-specialists often spend up to seven years in undergraduate and graduate studies to master these disciplines, and the expertise they develop in the process enables them to introduce sophisticated designs and structures to properties that magnify the aesthetics of Nature and unify human architecture with topography and vegetation.
To best serve their clients, Houston landscape architects begin every project with an in-depth consultation with the client. Understanding the expectations of the homeowner is necessary prior to initiating any work on the property. Some people are looking to simply improve the appearance of the front and back yard, and consequently have a strong preference for gardens, natural pools, fountains, and ornamental sculptures. Others are looking to create outdoor entertainment space that offers comfort and amenities equivalent to those found indoors. Still others are looking to create special play areas for their children. It is the duty of the landscape professional to ask as many specific questions as possible to get a clear picture not only of what the ultimate purpose of the design is going to be, but also what details will be most suitable to that homeowner’s particular tastes and lifestyle.
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What next when hiring a Houston Landscape Architect
The next step in the design process is a walk-through of the property where a thorough analysis is made of the terrain. Topography can vary significantly in different parts of Houston. Landscape architects often work on properties that lie close to flood plains and bayous that present significant challenges to water drainage. Devising effective methods of managing water runoff without diminishing the property’s aesthetic is one of the many nuances of this science that can only be learned after years of disciplined training and experience. Sunlight is also a major factor that landscape architects study in detail before proposing a preliminary design. The amount of shade versus light, and the amount of time each day that certain areas receive light, will play a major role in determining what plant species can be added to the landscape. Designers also have to take into account how the overall design will look in comparison to adjacent properties. If neighboring homes, buildings, or yards are too blatantly visible from a client’s locations, steps will have to be taken to create a more self-contained aesthetic that provides the homeowner with a more unique and personal experience.
The ultimate purpose of this analysis is to develop a strategy for shaping the terrain to meet the objectives of the Houston homeowner. The true Houston landscape architect works with Nature, not against it, by looking at the many elements that constitute the big picture of the landscape and seeing where they can be developed according to the desires of the clients. Areas that are shaded by trees can often be developed into summer gathering areas. Places near the backs of yards, or tucked away in the corners of the lot, and play host to a patio that overlooks a quiet fountain. Some areas, such as the places along fence lines and areas adjacent to the house itself, are highly suitable to ornamental gardens planted in any number of styles. Open spaces should be utilized as play areas for children and building areas for arbors, outdoor kitchens, and swimming pools.
Because of Houston’s temperate climate, it is possible to plant almost any kind of vegetation here. Landscape architects can offer their clients a wide range of choices when it comes to garden species, shrubbery, hedges, and trees. Professional landscapers need to remind their clients, however, that the actual choices in vegetation should be based on the goal of complimenting the architecture of the home and fully developing the greenery of grasses and indigenous tree species. Both the size and type of vegetation can play a significant role in how a home looks to visitors. Garden styles like Italian, French, Zen, and Modern all add very distinctive elements to a landscape that are more suitable to some architectural styles than others.
Last but not least, one of the most important benefits that Houston landscape architects offer to their clients is an entirely litany of specialized services subcontracted from professionals who specialize in certain forms of masonry and construction. Swimming pools, outdoor buildings, special walkways, and landscape lighting represent very unique niche disciplines that must be carefully integrated into a comprehensive landscaping plan in order to truly serve the best interest of the homeowner. It is best to let a professional manage these services because contractors tend to be more comfortable working in partnership with other contractors. More effective communication is ensured in this manner, and a more harmonious blend of individual parts to the whole will result.