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The Design Process: How great gardens go from the drawing board to the landscape

Like each client, every one of our landscapes is distinctive—a “custom fit” for a specific lifestyle. Our approach is simple. Each outdoor space is a living and livable canvas. As landscape architects, we “paint” the setting based on our clients’ needs, desires and budget.

Your interests and how you use your home helps determine the type of landscape we create—one that can be enjoyed for years to come and that can increase the value of your property. With that in mind, our work will never feature a “one size fits all,” cookie-cutter design with the same plants or materials used in every project. Just about anyone can lay pavers or plant a shrub, but a Hursthouse design marries the architecture of the house with the site and the homeowners’ lifestyle. We’re not designing for ourselves, but for our clients, and that involves getting to know you.

Ready, set, go

The design process begins with a face-to-face meeting in your home where we explore your “dream” landscape. Our mission is to help determine what you’d like to see and how you want to use your garden. Then, we execute those desires in the most exquisite way possible.

You may want an outdoor space for solitude, bird watching or reading. You may need a children’s play area or a spot for your pets. How about a comfortable space to grill, to entertain, or perhaps go for a swim? It may be the desire for something fresh—renovating a tired landscape, updating the home’s curb appeal, enlarging a patio, or the need to increase privacy.

Meeting in the home allows us to see what you see—from the windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and other spaces. After all, gardens are meant to be enjoyed from indoors as well as outside, and during all seasons, especially during winter when outdoor lighting is a key feature. Seeing the views allows us to design meaningful “sight” lines into outdoor spaces and perhaps to include focal points—a flowering tree, a fountain, or a special seating area, for example. Determining sight lines is an important, but often overlooked part of the design process.

Imagine That

Think about your favorite vacation spot. If there’s a way to recreate the feel of that trip, we’ll brainstorm how to do that. We help clients bring their ideas and imagination to the table so we can translate them into something tangible and delightful.

In the next step of the design process, we present several concepts that help hone the layout and flow as well as create functional spaces. Designing a landscape is like designing a building. Our landscape blueprints include careful consideration of space for outdoor “rooms” and the paths that connect them. There’s the acquisition of permits, and there’s grading and site preparation, which sometimes requires input from a civil engineer. Then, there’s the placement of floors for patios, the construction of walls (stone or wood fences), installation of electrical and plumbing components for fountains, lights and outdoor kitchens, and much more. Architectural drawings and other renderings are discussed before construction begins so you know what to expect.

Next, we handle scheduling, permits and procure the materials. It’s often a very complex process that takes time and thoughtful preparation. Our philosophy is simple: Build it the right way and build it to last. Construction ends when we walk through the new landscape with you. It’s an opportunity for us to answer questions and make sure you love the new space.

Most Chicago-area landscaping projects are guaranteed for one year. Every Hursthouse landscape is guaranteed for three years. And here’s a secret: We don’t expect your outdoor living space to look as good a few years down the line as when we built it—we expect it to look better.

Looking for inspiration? View our projects here.