With the housing market getting better but still historically weak, it's important for landscape contractors to encourage existing homeowners to invest in landscape upgrades. Northwest Indiana contractor Mike Arnold of Creekside Landscaping couldn't agree more.
"It is so important for contractors to convince homeowners and other property owners that it is vital to their property’s worth that they invest in great landscaping," Arnold says. "If the property owner's goal is to ultimately sell the property, a fresh landscape design is a sure ticket to quick selling. An old and outdated exterior gives a negative first impression and leaves a bad taste before prospective buyers even enter the building. Then, if landlordship is the property owner’s forte, curb appeal is a must for retail, and good luck getting a quality renter in your apartments or homes without paying attention to your landscape layout."
Hardscaping fits the bill
According to Arnold, one of the best ways to bring a property’s landscape from eye sore to eye candy is through hardscape design and installation. "If done right, most of your landscape budget will be targeted toward a sophisticated mix of retaining walls, paver patios, outdoor kitchens, fire pits/fireplaces, and maybe even a paver driveway," Arnold points out.
The financial value of this option is clearly in the cost of the materials and the extensive labor to install. But the value in the eye of an estimator is its permanence and capacity to be an outdoor living space. "If installed correctly, these structures will last a lifetime," Arnold says. "At Creekside Landscaping, we firmly believe that our customers should consider hardscapes because we understand the primary concern of every homeowner: growing the value of an investment."
Taking clients from idea to implementation
Creekside Landscaping has a well-defined process for evolving a client's vision to reality. "First, we hear out our prospective client," Arnold shares. "They got a hold of us, so that means they already have ideas stirring for their upcoming project. Our design team takes in their ideas and budget while observing and considering what landscape exists during the site visit."
That first meeting is critical, Arnold says. "Our dialogue does not stay within the bounds of the customer’s first ideas only. We are there to aid in the dreaming process, to cast a vision for the masterpiece their landscape could be. This includes suggestions for replacing the typical old, cracking concrete patio with an outdoor kitchen, or ripping out neglected shrubbery and making way for a brick grill enclosure."
Immediately after the first meeting, preliminary drawings begin. "We lay out our notes from our consultation, pull up the measurements we took, pour a cup of coffee, and get to work," Arnold relates. "A 2-D drawing is composed, followed by a 3-D drawing or an edited picture of the home (depending on the type of project). Once we have our presentation material and detailed quote drawn up, a follow-up meeting is scheduled with the client."
The second meeting is usually something Arnold and his staff really look forward to. "We know the customer is anticipating something great, and inside our folders we know we have something that we’ve creatively slaved over and is sure to widen their eyes," Arnold says. "Once we’ve presented the material, we discuss costs and budget, and do absolutely everything we can to accommodate their needs."