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 03-28-2005, 12:06 Post: 108921
wr5evk8jj

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 Landscape Architect Utilization Question

Looking for some advice on experiences or recommendations in using a landscape architect's services.

My family and I recently returned late last year from living and working in Australia. Bought a 2+ acre property; it’s mostly rectangular sloping from the back right high-point to the front right low-point dropping 19 feet, about 360' long and about 220' at the rear being a little wider at the road in front. There is well and septic. Other than the funky grass with the numerous weeds and stickers (some nasty ones called "goatheads"Wink yeah right, there has not been much done other than the grading done by the builder. The view to the west (front of the house) is fabulous as one sees a huge chuck of the (Rocky Mountain) Front Range with no obstructions; I am near the crest of a rise and have to look down slightly to see the lights of Denver to the SSW and Boulder to the W.

There are a few ideas of what needs to be done with the property. I don't want to sink a small fortune into landscaping; just what will be good for my growing family (my sons are 14, 11, and 8 and my daughter is 6), and with what will be prudent seeing some overall value landscape “investment” at the time of "pulling up stakes" and moving on to somewhere else (maybe in 5-10 years). This was a stepping-stone to doing something different with my life following our return back into the US mainstream.

One of the negatives is the property being "covenant controlled" putting up with the architectural committee (AC) having to submit plans for what we want to do (I despise their interference into my lifestyle, I am also a "ham"Wink yeah right. It’s a small AC, with only 60-some properties.

The good part is that I pretty much know what I want to do, but lack reassurance. Late last week, I talked with a guy resulting from the local (Denver area) "architect referral”. I know that I will pay for his experience and expertise. That will be the reassurance for me. He seemed to be right in-tune with my vision of this being done in achievable chunks over the next 2-4 years (time and money). The plan needs to be captured into a "landscape plan". Another part of the reassurance aspect of this “grand plan” is his recommendation of what to do, when to do it (so that my wife and I don’t have to redo something in the future), that it makes sense to do (that we are not wasting out money in something that does not make sense to do), and what materials or plants to use. I do plan on one or two irrigated grass areas with the main one good for the kids to go out and play soccer or cricket (not exceeding 4000 sq ft per the county since on a well); the remainder of the plot to be in native or drought-tolerant grass. Then, I’ll also have a professionally done plan for submitting to the AC for their “approval” (like they add any value…not).

The landscape architect is meeting with my wife and I at the end of the week. Is there anything that needs to taken into consideration, asked of him, or that he asks of me when we meet?






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 03-28-2005, 17:20 Post: 108940
dsg

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 Landscape Architect Utilization Question

wr5evk8jj, The first thing I'd do is get out of that area. I couldn't handle someone telling me what I could plant or how many sq. ft. of lawn I could let my children play onSmile

It sounds like you have purchased the property for an Investment. The more $$ you save doing the work yourself the further ahead you'll be on an investment point of view. Improving the property will inevitably improve the selling price, but may not improve your investment if you spent a lot of $$ to get there. When you sell the property in 4 or 5 yrs. the power of the dollar will be less because of inflation and that will hurt your buying power for your next investment and if it's reality (of course depending on your area) that will have inflated also. Am I making any sense here. This is only my opinionSmile

You may want to contact your local agricultural center or collage for info. on what to plant.

David






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 03-28-2005, 19:16 Post: 108949
denwood



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I have a BS degree in ornamental horticulture and spent 3.5 years as a residential/light commercial designer before going into the garden center end of the business. Part of my duties were bidding commercial jobs done by a landscape architect. Around here far too many landscape architects are plant idiots.






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 03-28-2005, 19:16 Post: 108950
denwood



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They are more math majors that crunch the numbers and specialize in hardscapes and meeting requirements. Their knowledge of plants was poor at best and they had no grasp of what plants were readily available so I constantly had to substitute not only what was available but the right plant for the spot they specified.






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 03-28-2005, 19:17 Post: 108951
denwood



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You may want to speak to a "designer" who has done loads of local residential jobs. If you don't know plants very well, it would be easy for someone to smooth talk you and sound knowledgable. Ask to see local residential jobs they have done. Also a designer is more likely to have a resonable fee compared to an architect. I would say for a complete plan it will run $250-500, possibly more.






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 03-29-2005, 06:33 Post: 108972
wr5evk8jj

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You are quite right about wanting to get out of the area. The quicker that I can leave the "big smoke", the better things will be. And you are also correct about being sort of an investment even though that was not really an apparent reason. Looking back on the decision process, this place was a compromise.

My wife and I made the desicsion to return back to the US and Colorado early last year. Now, we wonder why we came back, but that could be subject of a whole 'nother thread. I flew back in March (using Frequent Flyer miles just over a year ago for 5 days on the ground) looking for a place that we could call "home" for our return; there was lot riding on this. I was working with a realtor that I had worked with in the past and fully trusted and still do. One of the "requirements" was to have a realistic drive for me to get to work; that sort of limited me right there. Another was to not be in a tract home area looking for a place that had an acre or two AND was realistic in price (the Denver area and the entire Front Range is getting, or has gotten, rediculous). With the available properties then, I got what I still consider to be a great place; it is about 1/2 hour for me to get to work, has 2+ acres, and I was able to get it at a respectable price (yep, it's an investment). I am still working and hope to be for the next 12-15 years. While here in the Denver area, I'll remain with the industry that I have been with for 20+ years.

This place has been a stepping stone for us returning back into the US from Australia. We were there since '90; the kids were all born there and went to school there until getting here in July last year (we pulled them out mid year in Australia to restart the same grade here for the beginning of the school year). We needed to figure out what we wanted to do, when, and where buying a bit time here while still employed.

What I would like to do is return back to the upper midwest. I grew up in southeast Wisconsin (right on the SE shore of Lake Winnebago NE of Fond du Lac) and north central Minnesota (Brainerd). The northwest part of Wisconsin intrigues me. Colorado would not be bad except for the increasingly outragous land prices. My wife and I are looking at where we want to be to position ourselves accordingly.

I have already been in contact with the county on what to plant. They were pretty good with information on the native grasses and all.

We thought that we needed to do something to the place to make it more presentable. I am in an area of around 60 2 acre parcels; not the best, but not worst either. This was one of the last 3 open parcels available. The way the postage stamp sized lot tract builders are building, we should be in a good position in 4-6 years to sell the place. That's the plan at least.






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 03-29-2005, 06:47 Post: 108974
wr5evk8jj

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Thanks for input.

There was something that sort of "clicked" when talking with the guy late last week. The things that I held dear to me in what I wanted to do, and when, seemed to be in-sync with him when talking with him. It was sort of that "feeling" one gets that things are going in the direction that you want them to go in. Now, he could be just a great salesman too, but I'll delve more into aspect when meeting him later in the week. He sent me his bio and it appears to back up all that he stated when talking with him (I may go check out some of his listed places that he has done). He was "with me" in the overall land use that is envisioned here. I am now curious how he will translate that vision putting into a plan. We never even got into plants yet other than getting control of the weeds by putting in a decent irrigated lawn area along with a non-irrigated native grass for the majority of the lot.

So far, I am only going to be "out" for the consultation time later in the week. I will use the inputs assembled from this forum asking questions to test where he is going. That will be prior paying any more money for a plan or other consultations. The inputs obtained from this forum will hopefully help me in that decision process. Thanks.






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 03-29-2005, 06:57 Post: 108976
MacDaddy



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 Landscape Architect Utilization Question

I have to agree with the others regarding the Landscape Architect. I work with them frequently b/c our local planning boards often require us (as civil engineers) to submit Landscape Plans prepared by a LA. It really doesn't guarantee that you'll get what you want. I would just go to a reputable nursery and have one of their guys come out and make some suggestions. They will have a much better grasp on what plants will do well with your specific conditions (soil and climate). And because they will most likley be selling you the plants, they have a vested interest in making sure they spec species that will thrive.

Also, regarding your investment... I think you'll do very well if real estate trends continue as they have in that area for years. My brother in law owned a similar plot in Cold Creek Canyon, outside of Denver/Boulder. He sold it 5 years after purchase and I believe almost doubled his $$. He now lives in Boulder at the base of the Flat Irons and has watched that property grow in value as well.

Best of luck.






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Discussion Boards > Active Subjects > Messages as Posted > Landscape Design Forum

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