View Full Version : landscape ideas

03-02-2003, 08:49 AM
I am embarrassed to admit that we have been in our house for nearly 3 years and we have not completed landscaping our back yard :o :eek: . Our front yard is done and looks OK, and we have a white vinyl fence, so nobody can really see the back, but it looks so horrible. Our dilemma is that after you walk about 20 feet out our back slider, there is a very steep hill that goes up to the fence that surrounds our neighborhood. We constantly look at landscape books to get ideas but we cannot figure out what to do. Right now it's just dirt and weeds :eek: . It's so steep we hate to just put sod down because I think it would be difficult to mow. Also, the neighbors on either side have done cottage stone walls, but I know it cost a fortune (like around $6000 :eek: ) and we'd like to keep the cost down.
So, has anybody ever hired a landscape architect? Was it worth the $$$? Or can you just get advice from a nursery? We are willing to do the work ourselves, but just need help with the plan.
Any experts or someone with experience on this subject out there?


03-02-2003, 10:59 AM
My BIL had a yard that sounds similar to yours. They terraced the hill so that it was like a series of cascading flower beds with a stair path through it. They used landcscape timbers (like RR ties) along the edges and gravel on the top of the steps. I would use flagstone on the steps. It was fun to go up there and sit -- so you might think about putting a bench in the top half somewhere. If you're really ambitious, you can put in a small waterfall and pond! :D

03-02-2003, 11:16 AM
Originally posted by boisewinesnob
So, has anybody ever hired a landscape architect? Was it worth the $$$? Or can you just get advice from a nursery? We are willing to do the work ourselves, but just need help with the plan.
Any experts or someone with experience on this subject out there?


Haven't hired a landscape architect, but we did get tremendous help from the staff at a local, top-quality nursery (NOT Frank's). We had some ideas on our own and sketched out the areas in question on paper. Then we spent a couple of hours with the manager of the perennials department getting suggestions. So, definitely worth it.

We also found out that one of our neighbors works at this nursery and is a Master Gardener. As a side job, she also does "landscape consulting" which sounds just like what you're looking for. Don't know what prices would be by you, but she charges $50/hour.

Another "resource" we used were landscape architects - well sort of! Having some idea of what we wanted to do, we contacted landscapers to get estimates of what it would cost for them to do it. Most provide estimates for free (including numerous suggestions as to what plants work best where). Some will charge a nominal fee (<$100) to put together a plan, which is then deducted from their fee if you hire them. But in the long run, it's a pretty reasonable price for advice.

03-02-2003, 12:47 PM
I've heard that Master Gardener's are a great resource for this kind of thing. Also, if there is a university nearby with a Landscape Architect program, you may be able to get a student to do consulting work for less money.

03-02-2003, 01:17 PM
We have had our yard professionally landscaped and the results were worth it. We had tinkered in the yard, but it never looked good and we don't have the skills needed to get it done. Last year, we redid the front and back yards after it was completely torn up from our remodeling project. I found our landscaper by driving around the neighborhood and looking at yards. When I found one I liked, I left a note in the mailbox asking about the yard. The owner called me back and gave me the name of the landscaper, who she was very happy with. He did the design and installation, but I know that many landscapers will draw plans or consult on an hourly basis. Going into the process, it really helps if you have an idead of your budget and what you would like the yard to look like. Our landscaper was very respectful of our budget and really worked hard to not go over. He was very creative and came up with wonderful ideas and was able to incorporate many of the plants in the yard. It is really important to ask questions up front about costs and find someone who is on the same wavelength. I had talked to someone else who had a very flip attitude when I told him what the money limit was. He questioned why I wasn't willing to spend more and I told him that was all I was willing to spend and that was the end of the discussion.

I think getting a plan and good advice is the way to go, especially with a challenging yard.

03-02-2003, 02:40 PM
thanks for all the great ideas :)

I am going to start with the college; I just checked the website and they do offer a horticulture/landscape tech program.
We just got our income tax refund last week and we are determined to get our backyard finished!!! We might do the terracing with RR ties, because the brick/stone walls are so expensive. We'll also check with a nursery....I'm sure they could recommend some people. Our neighbor on one side had his stuff done by landscapers and I think he said it cost around $10000. The neighbors on the other side did it themselves, and it looks nice, but just the stone cost about $6000. For that kind of money I'd rather buy a used car or go to Europe :cool: . Oh well, at least it's only the back. We did our own sod in the front and sides and it was very hard work, but we saved about $2000.

Maybe after this is finished I can post some before & after pictures. :) Of course, that would mean we'd have to get it done!!!