Before and after a major garden transformation


Despite evidence that suggests otherwise, construction projects are coming to an end. Witness my new backyard.

I opened a bottle of prosecco, and my husband and I toast our new yard with our landscaper Tony Evans, who led the six month landscaping odyssey. Evans rushes into the yard to take pictures.

“What’s your favorite part of the job? I ask, running to his side.

“This!” he says without hesitation, and opens his arms.

“Mine too!” I say.

Transformation never gets boring.

My husband and I first met Evans, owner of Orlando Landscape Design, last December when we invited him to help us reinvent our mundane backyard, an abandoned patch of land overgrown with vegetation. and oppressed.

BEFORE: Nothing in this yard attracts you. (Courtesy of Tony Evans)

A month later, he presented a virtual rendering of what our garden could be, and took us around with his mouse. The avatar court maximized the view and minimized the neighbors. It had three exterior rooms – a living room, a dining room, and a foyer room with a fireplace and a fountain. We have been sold. We launched the project on March 1st.

Since then, I’ve learned that landscaping projects are like pregnancy. Once that baby arrives, you forget about the nausea and heartburn because the payoff is well worth it.

Now I can barely remember the brush cutter who didn’t chop the stumps low enough to literally make note. I barely remember the day the wall fountain – which had to be installed before anything else and took nine weeks to arrive – couldn’t be installed because the Bobcat that was supposed to carry the fountain into the yard didn’t could not pass. the four-foot-deep, two-foot-wide trench that the gas contractor dug to bury the gas line. Which could not be filled until the gas line was inspected. Which couldn’t have happened until we could get an inspector, which was difficult due to the pandemic stay-at-home orders.

And I only have a vague recollection of the cement hearth that arrived cracked, and the month’s wait for it to be replaced, and the 3,000 pounds of Mexican black rock coming to Florida, for reasons that no one could explain, from Idaho.

(Anyone who thinks I’m getting preferential treatment from contractors for writing a home design column is wrong.)

“It’s the little foxes that spoil the vines,” Evans said, paraphrasing a bible verse, meaning it’s all the stupid nuisances that attract you. Evans is a former youth pastor, a skill he had to draw upon to work with me.

Indeed, our project relied on six or seven industries to regroup. A lot of things could go wrong.

But all that doesn’t matter. My garden is now my favorite place. When I’m away I think about coming home and being there. When I’m there I feel like I’m on vacation which is good because after what we’ve spent we can’t afford a vacation.

“You were locked up on your patio,” Evans said, thinking back to when we started. “Nothing in your garden made you want to enter it. Now you have a whole new living space.

If landscape architecture is the art of turning an unattractive space into a place you want to enter, then mission accomplished. Here is what I learned:

Pay for a design: Hire someone trained in landscape architecture. We could easily have spent so much money without vision and had an almost equally satisfying result. A landscaper knows how to use scale, proportion, texture, balance, function and aesthetics. While professionals in allied trades – such as nurseries, lawn care, pool companies, or paving companies – may offer to design your landscaping for free or for a small fee, they will be oriented towards their trade. Avoid conflict.

Ask what’s included and what isn’t and budget accordingly: Our landscape proposal covered demolition, grading, patio travertine, beach rock, plant material, mulch, irrigation system, labor and monitoring. Everything else we paid directly. The fire bowls, the gas pipes to supply them and the installation, the fountain, the furniture, the fence, the lighting, the flowerpots and the outdoor cushions all added up.

Understand the fee structure: Most landscapers charge a fixed design fee, often less than 10% of the total project cost. Then the owners can either do the work themselves, hire their own contractors to do the work, or have the designer oversee the project for an additional percentage. We had quarterback Evans for the project because he had teams he worked with and knew how to sequence the work.

Be patient: Projects must move forward sequentially. Problems at any stage can delay the whole job.

Expect hiccups: To borrow from Shakespeare, just like true love, the course of home improvement has never been smooth. But all’s well that ends well. And that’s all that matters.


Comments are closed.