What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
Yes, constantly. I regularly attend conferences and seminars when available.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
I love the outdoors, and design runs in my family (my father is a civil engineer). I've stayed in this profession because I enjoy creating great spaces that respond to each client's desires.
What types of customers have you worked with?
1) Putting a personal touch on a new or existing yard; 2) Addressing change of life transitions (kids away to college, empty nesters, special needs, etc); 3) Adding functionality (pool, barbecue, patio/deck); 4) Improving curb-appeal;
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
A LOT of contractors pass themselves off as designers, without having had any formal education or training in design. There are a few ways to tell: 1) If you're being offered the design for free, RUN AWAY AS FAST AS YOU CAN!! The reality is that you're going to pay for the design anyway, it'll just get hidden in the construction cost somewhere and you won't know how much it's set you back. And, 2) The designer should be present from day one through until the end, and have a great deal of input during the construction process. If this isn't the case, the design is probably being 'farmed-out' to someone else who may or may not be a part of that company or be around to answer important site/construction questions. This is where continuity can become lost. Bottom line: do your research and ask a lot of the tough questions when interviewing a designer.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
There is a HUGE difference between what a landscape designer/architect does and what a landscaper does. A landscaper pulls weeds, mows lawns, and blows leaves. A landscape designer carefully considers all variables involved, including existing context, a home owner's vision, and municipal and HOA regulations, and creates a perfect solution that reflects the home owner's personal style and address their needs.