After more than three decades in business, we’ve helped guide hundreds of clients through the process of planning and designing their outdoor spaces.  While each project is unique, there are certainly some common questions that arise throughout the process.  Here, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

1.  Can we be green without going into the red?

“The answer to this question is always YES – there are many sustainable design choices that cost the same as (or sometimes even less than) a traditional solution.  The key to making smart, sustainable planning and design choices is early collaboration among the project team.  Some examples of cost-effective sustainable solutions include low impact stormwater management practices, using native and locally-sourced plants, and incorporating grading solutions that are respectful of the site’s original topography.  Seeing the project holistically helps the project team develop solutions that function both economically and sustainably.”

– Peter Dufrene, Project Director


2.  Being on budget is great, but what about the long-term maintenance costs?

“The mantra Think Globally, Design Locally is appropriate here.  We draw our design inspiration from around the world, but when it comes to specifying plant and products, we look close to home.  Even the best equipment will need to be serviced, repaired, or replaced in the future.  Engaging with local manufacturers helps decrease that future cost.  Additionally, strategies like plant zoning – grouping plants that have similar water needs together – can also help decrease the project’s overall water needs and help extend the life of the project.”

– Chris Lalich, Director of Project Operations


3.  What can we do to decrease the use of water?

“This is where I’m supposed to wax poetic about native plants.  And yes – native plants are an important part of the equation.  However, the single best method of decreasing water usage is managing expectations related to the landscape.  If users and stakeholders are expecting a lush, green outdoor environment, decreasing water usage is going to be an uphill battle.  Education is key here.  If users and stakeholders appreciate the benefits of native and sustainable landscapes, and if we have the opportunity to show them that the design doesn’t have to look like a patch of weeds, then decreasing water usage becomes much easier.”

– Patrick Smith, Project Director


4.  How many residential lots can I expect to fit on this piece of land?

“There is no single answer or simple guideline for this question, because lot density is based on many different factors.  First we must consider the site constraints (such as drainage ways, steep topography, existence of floodplain, and sensitive environmental features).  In many cases these constraints can be turned into positive elements that build long-term value into the project.  A second consideration is the level of amenities desired for the project (such as recreation centers, pocket parks, and trail systems).  While adding amenities can decrease the number of lots, when these features are thoughtfully designed they can add value beyond what could be achieved through home sales alone.  Of course, lot sizes and lot mix always affect density.”

– Gene Lukow, Director of Planning


5.  What is the future of landscape architecture?

“Oh boy, we love this one!  We mostly hear this question from landscape architecture students, but we think it is relevant for everyone.  In general, we are pleased to see the design and construction industry bouncing back after the recession.  Even though the economy has improved, we continue to see a focus on lean operations and efficient management.  Digital has definitely changed how we do business, and we expect it to continue to revolutionize our industry for the foreseeable future.  Right now, Design-Build and Construction Manager At-Risk delivery methods are very popular because construction prices have become more volatile.  Finally – sustainability is much more than a trend.  It is here to stay, and it is our job to innovate and raise the bar for the future.”

– Mark Smith, Vice President


Do you have a burning question related to planning or landscape architecture?   Send us an email or post your question below.