Well, there I was….in my new job, working only as a landscape designer for a large home builder. My surroundings had definitely changed since I left my small and sometimes dirty maintenance office and traded it in for a beautiful office on the 14th floor in downtown Phoenix (you can read more in my “Part 1” post if you like).
Now you would think that with as a horticulturist, I was more then ready to get started……well not exactly. Before I was allowed to meet with home buyers by myself, I had to learn how to design a whole host of custom structures. And so, I spent 4 weeks learning how to design built-in BBQs, firepits, seatwalls, arbors, fountains, raised patios, etc.
Landscape designer, Built-in firepit
It was harder then you may think because I had to design these structures from the ground up, which I found challenging. Trying to factor in gas lines, how many bricks, did it need to be reinforced, how much material was needed, water lines, paint, stucco finishes, etc. was exhausting. I soon learned that visualizing these structures, much less drawing them out, was quite hard for me. My brain just does not work well that way. But, I did learn how….but I cannot honestly say that I enjoyed the process.
With my new knowledge, I was soon ready to meet with clients in my fancy new office. I had traded in my work gloves and boots for manicured fingernails and a business professional wardrobe. Did I already mention my black granite desk in my previous post?I know I did….but it was just so beautiful 😉
In addition to the fancy trappings of my office, I had a variety of samples to show new home buyers. Pieces of flagstone in all sorts of colors, pavers, cultured stone, colored concrete and I even had a clear glass box with fake grass inside.
Landscape designer, I still have a couple of flagstone samples…..I’m not sure why I kept them.
I think my favorite prop was my ‘rock box’. Doesn’t that sound exciting? I still have it and so I dug it out of my stuff in the garage just to show you how cool it is….
Okay, maybe it isn’t the most exciting thing you have seen, but wait until I open it up….
Still not too interesting, is it?
Personally, I found the subject of landscape rock selection quite boring, but clients needed to see samples of what type of landscape rock (gravel) they could chose to use in their landscape. (It was surprising how many people get hung up on choosing landscape rock. Throw in a couple who have differing opinions, and it would take forever.)
So I was finally trained and ready – after all I had my rock box ;-). But, I was so nervous. Did I mention that I had to actually draw out the landscape design in front of the client, price the entire landscape and get a signed contract within a period of 1 hour?
Believe it or not, I gradually got used to designing on the spot. I enjoyed meeting so many different people and most of them were very nice to work with.
Over the course of my two years working with the home builder, I met with many wonderful people. I also met with some unusual people as well. Here is just a small sampling of some client meetings that stick out in my mind…..
This particular client did not want any trees or plants in his front yard. NONE! Now for the horticulturist and plant lover in me – I just couldn’t fathom someone not wanting plants in their yard.
I did my best trying to describe the benefits of having trees and plants in his front yard. I told him that I could design his landscape using low-maintenance plants. But, he was not swayed in the least….not even when I whipped out my photos of beautifully landscaped areas.
Well, who do you think got their way…..me or him?
I wish I could say that I persuaded him by showing him examples of my landscape designing expertise….but that would be a lie.
I got my way because the community where his new home was to be built, required trees and plants in the front yard. Actually, 2 trees, 10 large shrubs and 12 smaller groundcovers.
The expression on his face was just priceless because he just couldn’t believe that he had to have plants.
I had a wonderful time meeting with this client. She was moving into a beautiful community located in the upper desert surrounding Phoenix AND she loved plants.
All except for this one…..
Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)
I’m not sure why she did not like this plant. It is quite beautiful, low-maintenance as well as being drought-tolerant, all of which are good things.
Now the fact that a client did not like a particular plant was not unusual and did not usually present a problem; I would create a design using other plants.
However, the community she was moving into had some strict guidelines in regards to what types of plants could be planted. Every home had to have one particular plant in the front yard.
Guess what plant she absolutely had to have planted in her front yard?
Yep…..you guessed it, Red Yucca.
The client couldn’t believe it, but she was quite nice about it. Together, we figured out where we could have it planted in her front yard where she would not have to see it. We put it on the side of her house where only her neighbor would be seeing it.
This client was building a home in a gorgeous part of the desert, called Gold Canyon. It is located by beautiful mountains and the views from her new home were going to be stunning.
This particular community required a quite a few plants in the front yard – I love plants so designing for this community was always a treat.
We spent our time creating her landscape design together. I suggested plants and their placement and I could see that she was getting excited about how beautiful her landscape would look.
I loved working with clients who could ‘see’ what the finished landscape would look like. They were very easy to work with.
I remember her discussing her plans for inside her new house and she couldn’t wait to move in.
Because it was a corner lot, there was a 1 ft. wide strip of land between the block wall of her backyard and the sidewalk.
As we were getting ready to wrap things up, I mentioned that little strip of land was hers and that she was responsible for maintaining it. Now, maintenance for that area was easy. There were no plants there, just landscape rock.
Well, she was not happy about owning that little strip of land. In fact, she was so upset that she walked up to the front desk and canceled her house purchase. She wouldn’t even want to consider building her house on a typical lot.
You know, I soon learned to expect the unexpected. Each person is unique as are their preferences. Who would have ever guessed that someone would back out of a house purchase over a little 1 ft. wide strip of land……
I hope my stories are not too boring. I have had fun recalling some of the more memorable moments.
If you are not completely bored to death……come back for Part 3 in a few days 🙂