Interview with professional landscape designer, Paul Corsetti, continued from Page 4. On this page, Paul relates a few more tips for those intent on becoming landscape designers, drawing on his own experiences.
Q. Give a general idea of what the contract would consist of between the homeowner and landscape designer.
A. The contract should contain your complete address and business name, as well as the agreed upon prices of whatever you are offering to do work for. If you take a deposit, you sign that it is received. And show what the balance will be once you deliver the drawing; that way, there is no confusion or argument. The contract should have terms for the client to agree with in accepting you to do the work for them.
Q. If the landscape designer needs to work with a crew for the project, please address how such a crew is hired, paid, insured, etc.
A. I’ve never actually ran a job this way. I tend to stay away from headaches like that and let the contractors come in on the work and deal with the hassles of insurance, crews and equipment. I usually stand on the sidelines just watching the work as it happens and if I see things wrong or the client has a question, I will pull aside the contractor and discuss the issue. My method of operation is to get contractors who know their stuff in place to deal directly with clients. They agree to implement my design for a set cost and the clients deal directly with the contractors for fees and so on. When it is a design issue, I do my best to resolve it.
Q. What’s the most important advice you could give to someone interested in becoming a landscape designer?
A. Design with your heart and create with your mind, not with what everyone else is doing. AutoCAD can make some landscape designers get lazy to where they copy and paste things from old designs and just repeat the same things in the new ones. Keep your designs original, keep your ethics and morals in a truthful place when you practice your trade.
Travel the world! See how things are done in other parts of the world and base your ideas on that. Look at Nature to teach you more than you can possibly read in any book. There are so many things in Nature that will show you how plants like to live and how landscapes should look. When you stray too far from that you decide to become a modern artist that uses landscape materials as a medium rather than a landscape artist that uses Nature as the medium.
Q. I see from your bio that gardening has always been a part of your personal life. The same probably holds true for many an individual intent on becoming a landscape designer. Discuss some of the most important lessons learned from one’s own gardening that can be applied to one’s career as a landscape designer.
A. Plants are like people: If they are not happy, they will shrivel up and die. When you garden on a personal basis, you are reminded of soil needs, watering needs and sunlight or shade needs. You see how one plant can struggle in one spot and thrive in another spot. You learn the interconnection of the land to that plant and what the relationships are which keep a plant thriving.
The gardening aspect of your personal life keeps you connected to that relationship that plants have with the land. When you go to a client’s house for the first time, you look for signs of stress in existing plants. You look at the soil conditions with a sense of confidence. You question, “Could I make my plants grow in this soil? Does this soil need help or will I have to find plants that will thrive in this soil type?”
When you learn those lessons, you know that when you hand over a garden plan to a client, it will work!
The second most valuable lesson you learn when tending your own gardens is: Weeding, weeding and weeding… then watering… then weeding some more! So if a client asks for low maintenance gardens (which is a modern day myth!), you can advise them accordingly. It is easy to create 2400 square feet of gardens in your drawing, but it is the client that has to tend to it afterwards or pay someone to do so.
Keeping in mind how much work it takes, you can then ask your client, "Are you up for this task, or should we be making smaller garden beds? Should we be using a weed barrier and mulch? How about a sprinkler system to keep things watered?" The idea is to spend less time working in the garden and more time enjoying it.
About Paul Corsetti, our expert on becoming a landscape designer:
Through 8 years of working in the trade along with achieving a degree and diploma in Landscape Architecture through Ryerson University, Paul has gained vast experience in the landscape industry. He is able to plan elements of design work with his years of experience spent as a professional gardener, a contractor and a stone sales rep. In co-ordination with “GardenStructure.com” and his design company “Hands In Nature, Landscape Designs”, Paul is able to bring this knowledge forward to his clients.