Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Ask a Professional Landscape Designer

JANUARY 2018 – If you’ve been thinking of making changes to your landscaping, our lead designer, Ryan Burrow, gives us his tips on landscaping that will wow buyers. Maybe you’re thinking about selling your home, or you just want to improve the appearance of your landscape, or you want to save money on your water bill every month. No matter where you stand, he has some must-read advice that you don’t want to miss!

Get to know Ryan Burrow:

Hello!  My name is Ryan Burrow, and I hold a B.S. in Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona.  I started my career almost 10 years ago by spearheading a residential landscape design program for a retail plant nursery, and completed over 350 designs in San Diego and Orange Counties.
I came to LaBahn’s almost 3 years ago as a referral from a dear friend, whom many of you probably know, Renee Buccelletti.  Renee and I went to Cal Poly together and both studied abroad in the picturesque Italian town of Castiglion Fiorentino, in which Renee now resides.  I have a passion for all things design and enjoy working with my team at LaBahn’s whom see my designs to fruition.

What are your top 5 tips for landscaping that will wow buyers?

1. Start by identifying a focal point in the yard, front or back.

This could be a tree, a front door, a fountain, a cluster of boulders, a pond, a dry river bed, etc. What do you want buyers to focus on?

2. From there I suggest building around it.

Generally buyers want to have a landscape that looks good, but is low maintenance.  San Diego’s USDA Zone 10 climate allows us to grow just about anything, including soft, fleshy succulents.  These are personally my favorite.

3. You can never go wrong with succulents!

They are beautiful, come in a variety of colors, textures, and most importantly are water-wise.  They store water in their leaves which allow them to handle our dry Mediterranean climate with little supplemental water.

Most clients I have worked with enjoy the look of succulents, the little care they need, and the fact they look great year-round.  It’s important to note that succulents are not “cacti”; succulents, if mixed with other Mediterranean native plant material, have a soft pleasant aesthetic to them.

4. To add to the ease of care, I always suggest adding a smart irrigation timer, and drip irrigation.

These provide supplemental water to the root ball of each individual plant.  That way you aren’t watering your mulch or hardscape unnecessarily.  As water prices are likely going to increase with each year, it is important to acknowledge that we live in a “desert on the water.”

Smart timers, many of them come weather-based which means they connect to a satellite that gives them minute-by-minute forecasting.

5. Lastly, it’s SO important to mulch your landscape.

Mulch, bark, or softscape items like rock, cobblestone, or DG (decomposed granite) – all help to suppress weeds and save on water.  Mulching around the base of plants helps to retain water and gives a tidy, clean appearance.

For the average home owner, their home is their largest investment, how does landscaping do in improving home value?

Landscaping your house can become an expensive endeavor.  My experience leads me to believe that any money invested in your landscape is always returned in a positive fashion. Buyers want a landscape that is tidy, colorful, easy to maintain and beautiful year round.

Generally speaking, landscape items like pools, fountains, or large areas of turf do not have the same desirability as a clean, colorful planter would. If you don’t have the resources to fully renovate the landscape at your property, at a minimum, ensure that the plant material you have is cared for, cleaned up, and your empty spaces are weed-free, and mulched for a clean appearance.

What am I not thinking about that I should be?

The trend of Southern California in general is to remove areas of non-functional turf.  Turf is expensive to maintain, it requires a lot of chemical fertilizers, mowing, edging, weeding, and water.  If you have an area of non-functional turf – I usually suggest front yards, since these rarely have function to them – remove it.

Many buyers/clients I work with enjoy a colorful low-maintenance planter more than they enjoy a swath of green lawn.  It’s important to keep this in mind when thinking about doing a landscape renovation.  Think long-term and not just what works in the present.

What are some things I should avoid?

I would avoid really specific things in the landscape. For example, koi ponds, a large splashing fountain, or a rose garden.  If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next 1-3 years, think about something that will appeal to the masses, and isn’t just meeting the present needs of your family.

Your children may enjoy a large jungle gym in your backyard, but if you plan to sell your home, why not use that area to install a colorful low-maintenance planter that will appeal to a larger buyer pool?

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in enhancing your property and attracting buyers, get in touch with us! Our landscape designers would be happy to evaluate your landscape and suggest some options. Please call our office at 619-579-9151 or visit our Contact Page to schedule an appointment.


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