No one knows exactly when the practice of what is now called “Landscape Design” began, but suffice to say that man has been involved with shaping his environment for quite some time. While Mother Nature gifted us with an array of magnificent vistas throughout our beautiful world, a desire to make a space as perfect as imagination can dream has driven man throughout our existence.
Historians may cite the Europeans as creating the formal practice of landscape design during the Renaissance period. In the United States, an associated term, landscape architecture was first used in the winning entry of the design of Central Park in 1863. Modern Landscape Design, is considered to be a process that marries nature, culture and the creative expression to develop one-of-kind works of art in public and private spaces. In contemporary practice, the art and science of landscape design utilizes both softscape and hardscape to create a composition of planting, landform, water, paving and other structures that improves upon a property in both an aesthetic and practical way. Soft landscaping or softscape, is the process of working with landscape elements that do not involve construction. These elements include trees, shrubs, flowers and turf. Hardscape refers to heavier elements in landscaping design such as rocks, stones, patios and driveways. Ideally, a well-designed landscape project incorporates a balance between these two elements
While landscape design, has been a thriving profession for a while, in recent years, the practice has really taken off. Homeowners’ desire to create an inviting, comfortable outdoor space with the highest aesthetic possible has never been greater. It’s been common practice for a while to spend considerable time and money designing and improving upon the interior of dwellings to make them as comfortable as possible and to reflect their personal tastes of the homeowners. But there was much less emphasis on modifying their outdoor space. People may have simply accepted the shortcomings of their existing exterior space for a number of reasons. Perhaps they felt that their outdoor surroundings were not conducive to improvement due to it being too rugged of an environment–too hilly, too rocky. Maybe the thought of tackling an outdoor renovation seemed to daunting due to their lack of experience. Perhaps they didn’t feel as though they had sufficient financial resources to undertake a project. Or it may have simply remained an unseen opportunity.
But now, record number of homeowners are recognizing the many benefits of engaging in landscaping design projects. A recent study on landscape trends by Houzz revealed that 40 percent of homeowners are using outdoor spaces for entertaining. There’s the undeniable day-to-day enjoyment that can be derived from living in a more beautiful environment. There’s the satisfaction and gratification that comes from knowing that you’ve taken your personal space and maximized it to its fullest potential. There’s the thrill of having put your personal stamp on your space that will be enjoyed by generations to come. In many cases, people who were restricted in their ability to entertain large gatherings of family and friends due to space issues, can now happily play host in a redesigned outdoor paradise. And there’s the pride and enjoyment that comes from sharing the beauty of their new environment with guests or even even the casual passerby who marvels at a gorgeously renovated front yard. Not to be overlooked, is the very important byproduct of property improvement, the increase in value that your property will enjoy. From maximized curb appeal to increased attraction to outdoor living spaces, one thing is clear, investment in landscape design is appealing to homeowners who get to reap its benefits in the short and long term.
Up until a decade or so ago, backyard living may have consisted of a canopy, simple wicker or redwood furniture, a couple of tables and chairs and a barbeque. Increasingly, the backyard is viewed as an extension of the home with renovations including kitchens, lighting design, sound systems, and perhaps one of the most popular elements–fireplaces or fire pits.
Since the 2000s, there’s been a growing interest in do-it-yourself projects. Perpetuated by the onslaught of television shows, some homeowners felt armed to undertake landscaping projects on their own. This may have been a viable option for some folks, perhaps those who were simply dealing with some form of gardening. But true landscape design is a task best left to professionals. Many DIYs aren’t prepared for the pitsfalls they may encounter during a landscape design project such as issues with soil or drainage or terrain challenges. Sometimes, after great expense and time and frustrations, experts are contacted to help right the wrongs. And so many homeowners underestimate the time it takes to complete a project, surprised that it may take months to accomplish a project that they thought they could tackle in a few weekends. Eventually many DIYs realize that there are many advantages to hiring professional landscape designers right from the start.
Professional landscape designers also have great, long standing relationships with a wide array of vendors. They will be able to secure better products at better prices than you would on your own. Landscape designers are up to date on state-of-the-art materials and processes.
A professional landscape designer will steer you away from a flash-in-the-pan solution to a short term challenge and guide you toward one that will be enjoyed and cherished for a lifetime. Because of their years of experience, education and training, professional landscape designers can work with you to dream of a space that you can’t even fathom. They can share from a multitude of success stories, so you can envision what you may think is impossible to accomplish. There may be many unique challenges specific to your property, but if landscape designers encounter an unexpected or unavoidably unanticipated obstacle, their wealth of experience has prepared them to overcome these challenges. They will instill confidence in you that they can deliver the desired outcome on time and on budget.
There really are no typical projects because each space is unique and the projects are dependent on several factors: the physical space, the client’s budget and the amount of features involved. Projects may range from very large, complicated redesigns of the entire outdoors of a large property to a smaller specific solution to a particular challenge. On the larger scale, projects may involve the addition of a pool, a patio, a pergola, an outdoor kitchen, fire and/or water features and other components involving carpentry and masonry. On the smaller side, it may be conceiving and executing a comfortable outdoor gathering space focusing on a firepit and the addition of comfortable furniture.
While each project is tackled as its own unique opportunity and will vary depending upon the clients’ needs, the complexity of the project and the individual designer, most professional landscape designers will approach each challenge in a similar manner.
A preliminary consultation will take place at your home. The designer will have the important initial conversations with you where you’ll discuss your dream outcome for the project. Many questions will be asked and answered and issues may come up that you hadn’t considered before. The designer will explain the ongoing commitment the project may require from you based upon the vegetation you select, for example. He may point out that choices involving some water features may require a commitment to long-term maintenance. The designer will conduct a walk through of the property taking important notes that will help him in his approach to the project such as the site’s strengths and weaknesses, the soil quality, sun and shade, hill and slopes.
Factoring everything into account, a preliminary budget will be created and at a subsequent meeting presented and approved by the client. After listening to your ideas and priorities, the designer analyzes the site’s character, strengths and problems, and then develops a concept plan for review. The design plan will evolve over time until a final master plan represents the culmination of your choices with the designer, and typically includes a complete spatial layout for your outdoor living spaces and other hardscape or architectural concepts.
There will be aspects of the project that your landscape design team will deal with such as critical issues like permitting and matters pertaining to engineering that you’ll probably not be interested in being involved with. But you’ll probably want to participate in the decisions that are considered to be more fun such as the selection of furniture, plants and sculptures.
Care will be taken at every step along the way in regards to monitoring budgets and deadlines. There should be no surprises except those of delight by the client at the conclusion of the project.
There are so many exciting features and products that can be incorporated into a design project based upon its scope and focus. Right now, people are really gravitating towards fire, and there will probably be a long-standing interest in these elements. Firepits are currently the most desirable product. While fireplaces benefit four to six people, a firepit can accommodate twice as many. Water features are also very popular. Aside from pools which are available in every conceivable size, shape and style, ponds, waterfalls, and fountains, offering soothing and relaxing sounds have grown in popularity. Custom outdoor kitchens of such extent that they rival a traditional indoor gourmet kitchen are very in vogue.
No longer included simply for navigation and safety, lighting has become an artform of its own in landscape design. LED Lighting is particularly popular because it lasts much longer than standard lights and is made of a higher quality of material such as brass or bronze versus the aluminum used in halogen lights. Lights can set a magical mood and highlight different special features such as sculptures and fountains. Particular seasons, themes, or holidays can be showcased by using colored lights.
In Los Angeles, with entertainment being such a high priority for some folks, outdoor living has culturally become somewhat of a requirement. Los Angeles, and indeed most of Southern California, has somewhat unique challenges that present themselves that are not as big issues in other parts of the country. Heat and lack of water are big driving factors behind many landscaping decisions, especially in determining selection of vegetation. But these obstacles that can be overcome with creativity and innovation. Drought-tolerant landscape design takes low water-usage plants and greenery to create a design that not only looks beautiful, but requires little to no water to maintain, helping you do your part in keeping the water shortage under control. Sample plants used in drought tolerant landscape design such as Pride of Madeira, Lime Magik, Cactus, Evening Glow and Paddle Plant are practical but still beautiful.
While water is an issue for keeping a lawn healthy and alive in California, a water feature is cheaper because it uses significantly less water and can be a more viable option.
In Los Angeles, many outdoor projects constructed with entertaining in mind can be enhanced with misting irrigation systems. Add a pergola for shading, and you’re all set for evening and daytime enjoyment. There’s no benefit to having a great outdoor space, if it’s too hot to enjoy it most of the time. Space heaters provide comforting warmth for cooler winter evenings and suddenly, and you’ve got outdoor living 365 days of the year.
How Pacific Outdoor Living Services are Unique
There are several things that differentiate us from other landscape designers. Typically, a landscape designer creates a design without a budget, sends it out to bid, and then weeks later returns with a price that’s much higher than the client intended to spend. At Pacific Outdoor Living, we get the budget first, so that you and your designer can work as a team to create the perfect landscape design that can be built at or under your budget. Most landscape designers subcontract all the aspects of the construction process. There are many aspects of that approach that are less than desirable. There’s the liability of having a contractor that you can not control. In many instances, they may cut corners on the job. In other cases, they don’t pay worker’s compensation and it becomes a risk for the homeowner.
At Pacific Outdoor Living, we have put together a complete team and built a step-by-step process to ensure the project goes as smooth as possible, from start-to-finish. This includes a full team of landscape designers, administrative staff and project managers, all employees of the company. With every aspect of the process kept in-house, we can control each element, guaranteeing a high quality installation. Whether large or small, complex or simple, one thing you can count on from Pacific Outdoor Living is our extreme commitment to and passion for achieving a quality outcome for our clients.
Pacific Outdoor Living prides itself on many things, not the least of which is the fact that our work is consistently applauded by our customers, the industry and the press. We are proud of the fact that we were twice identified by Inc. magazine, which recognizes the success of small businesses, as one of the fastest growing companies in the country. This is success rate is meaningful to us because our growth is an indication of our high degree of client satisfaction and in their referral of us to their friends and family. This is what one of our extremely satisfied customers, Bill B., had to say about us: “Astonishing work from this company. I needed pretty much everything that makes a good backyard: built in barbecue, pool, patio, pavers, and landscaping. Our designer was able to draw up a plan to make our backyard modern yet inviting and cozy. She achieved JUST that. We’ve spent nearly every night in our new space since. If you are looking for a company that will take their business seriously, you have to call these folks.”
Daily, we receive unsolicited praise by people who take time out of their busy days to review us online, the results of which make us very proud. We have 5 star rating on Home Advisor, a 5 star rating on Facebook, 4.7 star rating on Houzz and a 4.5 star rating on Yelp. We think that’s pretty impressive.
We know that many professionals and companies in our industry take pride in their work, but one of the things that sets us apart is that our business is 100% owned by our employees. Every project, every task, and yes, even every interaction with every customer or client is a direct reflection upon that employee and on their financial success.
Why we love landscape design
Being able to practice landscape design is a gift. First of all, it’s a challenge. Imagine that each day presents you with a new opportunity to practice your chosen craft with the end result being you have literally, physically made the earth a better place to live. That may sound ambitious, but when we have completed a project, we have taken a piece of property and we’ve improved upon it.
Every day, you hear stories about how companies and people and their actions are destroying the planet. We work with Mother Nature and the natural gifts she’s given us and use our education, experience and creativity to help better a piece of property. We plant trees and many other kinds of vegetation. We often take land that is otherwise not useful and make it able to be used and enjoyed. We are careful in our approach to work with the environment in selecting vegetation that has long term viability. We stabilize land by making it more useful and practical. And if that wasn’t enough to get you excited about getting out of bed every day, we help our customers make their dreams come true as it relates to their outdoor living space. We provide them with an opportunity to relax, socialize and entertain in space that may have been previously unenjoyable. The looks of anticipation on our clients’ faces when we first meet with them and the looks of astonishment and satisfaction when they first see the finished product…
Well, who wouldn’t want to be involved with that?
Here’s how one customer, April C., explained why we love landscape design: “I am very happy with my experience with Pacific Outdoor Living. Their attention to detail is uncanny. Every part of the process was painless from the design to the execution. My home is on a steep hillside, which proved difficult for many companies to tackle. However, Pacific Outdoor Living transformed an unusable hill to a three-tier patio space that showcased an outdoor kitchen, seating area, fire pit and spa. All with drought tolerant plants! Love it!”