Landscape Design

Outdoor Patio Area

At long last, spring is finally here! It’s time to kick off all the new gardening projects and landscape design ideas we’ve been mulling over all winter. However, not everyone is an expert designer, and it can be tricky to plan and stay organized— especially when we’re juggling work, family, and a long list of other responsibilities. You might dream of a backyard that feels like a private resort, but for most people, that fantasy feels as far away as the Maldives islands. That’s where a landscape designer comes in.

Landscape design is a marriage of indoor and outdoor spaces. A landscape designer’s job is to work with homeowners to create a design that suits the personality and lifestyle of the household. Landscape designers are trained to think about both the style and function of the outdoor space—for instance, a young family with small kids will need very different features from their landscape than a couple of empty nesters who have recently downsized. By working with a landscape designer and leaving the tough stuff to the pros, you can enjoy all the benefits of a beautiful, customized yard without breaking a sweat.

Working With a Landscape Designer—Is it Really Worth It?

Some folks are apprehensive to shell out the extra money for a landscape designer, but consider why you’d rather see a mechanic instead of fixing your car yourself. First of all, you’ll need tons of time to learn how your car works. You’ll still need to get the supplies, but how will you know you have all the right ones? Finally, you run the risk of making mistakes that cost you more money, more supplies, and—you guessed it—more time. You can save yourself from all of these hassles by leaving the work to a professional who knows exactly how to put the plan into motion.

Expert landscape designers also have a pretty sound judgment on what can realistically be achieved. Sometimes particularly ambitious and idealistic gardeners may come up with elaborate concepts and grandiose plans, but a landscape designer can help provide valuable insights on what ideas will work, and what ideas might not be achievable and should maybe get scrapped. They also map out designs, so those of us that have trouble visualizing plans for the space will get a lot out of having a landscape designer draft up a design plan that meets expectations.  

Inside the Mind of a Landscape Designer

When you hire a landscape designer, one of the main benefits you’re getting is the expertise to consider aspects of the design that you may not have considered. While most of our customers have a lot of great ideas based on landscapes they’ve admired, we are laser-focused on creating a true extension of your indoor living space. We consider stuff like:

What will the space look like from the inside? There’s a slim chance you’ll ever be spending 100% of your time in your yard, even if you wish you could. Still, we want to make sure you love what you see when you’re standing at the kitchen sink, looking through the window.

What will the space look like throughout the year? Even if you only plan to hang out in your yard during one or two seasons out of four, you’ll still be looking at it all year round. We make our landscape designs four-season friendly, so even when your favourite perennials turn in for the year, you still have some gorgeous evergreens around to brighten up your spirits.

How will the space flow? Like your interior layout, your landscape needs to guide you through the space in a logical way. Pathways, arches, and retaining walls draw the eye, and the body, through the space from the moment you step outside.

What features will complement your home? Everything we put into a landscape design serves a purpose. A windowsill planter filled with flowers brightens and softens an exterior wall, while a water feature adds soothing sound and attracts wildlife. Placement of new features is also key. For instance, hardscaping should never be placed right up against the house, which looks and feels awkward. Plants placed against the house, on the other hand, creates communication between the indoor and outdoor space. Think of a trellis or pergola covered in delicate vines, or a cheerful porch pot spilling over with annuals.

First Things First: Figure Out a Game Plan

Before ironing out the details with a designer, we’ll want to have a basic idea of what we hope to achieve with the landscaping project. Prepare ahead of time by asking these three questions:

What kind of style or aesthetic am I looking for? Having a theme in mind will help direct all design decisions and keep everything matchy-matchy. Do we want our yard to feel like an ultra-modern outdoor lounge, a tropical oasis retreat, or a rustic country ranch? Once we have an idea of what style we want to achieve, we’re better able to decide on color schemes, materials, and furniture.

What kind of plants do I prefer? Should we opt for the convenience of perennials that re-appear every spring, or are we open to changing it up each year with exciting new annuals? Which plants are must-haves, or total no-no’s? Make a list of top faves, plus any plants to keep out of your garden, and bring it to the landscape designer so they can try and plan around that.

Thinking of installing a patio? Having a dedicated space to sit outside is a must if you plan to spend time in the yard. We do our best to design a space that can accommodate a dining table and 6 chairs, though the size of the overall space can sometimes make that a challenge. The size of the space is our number one concern when designing a patio, but once the layout is hammered out, you have lots of options to personalize it with substrate materials. Do you like the simplicity of peastone or sleek interlocking pavers? How about the earthy appeal of wood mulch versus polished-yet-rustic flagstone?

What about hardscaping? When it comes to designing a yard, it’s important to consider function. A gorgeous yard with no pathways or sitting areas isn’t terribly practical, so take note of any additions or improvements to include in the project. Patios, fountains, and decorative stepping stones will help turn a yard into a beautiful, yet functional living space that everyone will love hanging out in.

Collaborating With a Landscape Designer

Okay, so you’ve decided that teaming up with a landscape designer is your best bet. What’s next? Here’s an overview of the different steps to take with a landscape designer to transform that space into a deluxe outdoor retreat.  

Consultation: Sitting down with the designer and going over all the ideas and requirements is the first step to kicking off a landscaping project. We recommend going in with internet photos or magazine clippings of styles or elements that align with your end-goal. If meeting with the designer in the yard isn’t possible, be sure to bring lots of good photos of the yard so they can get a good idea of how much space they’re working with, and what they might need to work around.

Design: Once a solid plan has been laid out, the landscape designer will map out a design so you can really visualize the end product. In the event that something looks a little off, or not quite what you had envisioned, you can work with the designer to iron out the kinks and finalize plans. We want you to be happy with the end result, so it’s important to be honest and upfront about feelings, ideas, and concerns.

Put the plan into action: Now that we have a design that we’re ready to go forward with, the designer can help you figure out exactly how to make it work, whether the plan is to pull it off independently or hire a landscaping team to do the dirty work. If hiring landscapers is the plan, our designers would be happy to set you up with a team!


As professional landscape designers, our goal for every project is to create a marriage of interior and exterior spaces. A landscape design project is one of the largest (if not the largest) investments you’ll make in your home and property, so we’re committed to creating an extension of your living space that you’ll be proud of for years to come. Contact our team at Royal City Nursery so we can help you get the most out of every square foot of your property.

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