Or, how to get more from your investment in a landscape design project (or any design project, really). As the people at the website Good [http://www.good.is/posts/is-the-crowd-a-feasible-design-partner] suggest, there are ways to improve the outcome of any group-oriented design effort. You’ve committed your money; now here are some concrete things you can do to make the effort worthwhile:
First, consider the value of structure. A perfectly symmetrical structure is balance incarnate. So many reach for that symmetry, thinking that a design isn’t right until there are the same number of round green objects on each side of the sidewalk. That’s fine if what you’re looking for is a landscape that encourages introspection, quiet, peace. If you would prefer an energizing space, however, open yourself to the possibilities of asymmetry. Ask your design professional to move a couple of those green objects to the other side of the walk. The good designer understands that structural balance is more than numbers – it involves mass, color, and shape, too. Also, shifting the structural balance can draw the garden’s visitors into the conversation that is the ever-changing landscape.
Second, spend some real time understanding what you want out of this process. Express your thoughts to your designer, and listen to their thoughts, as well. A great design project rises out of thoughts and ideas shared between the client and the designer. Collaboration’s real value is in the energy generated when two or more people put their brains together and open up their minds.
Third, once you’ve heard each other’s thoughts on the project, examine the boundaries of those thoughts. Push on their edges. The best outcomes so often result when we stretch the boundaries of what we think we want. Be daring, and challenge your designer to do so, too – don’t forget that you and your designer are partners in this endeavor. A willing attitude is so important. Understand that give and take is not a zero sum game; for you to win, it does not mean that someone else must lose. All parties win when respectful space is given to everyone’s wild ideas. Sometimes, elements of those “wild” things are just the spark your design project needs.
Fourth, remember that education is forever. While you’re taking a look at structure, understanding, and attitude, keep educating yourself on what makes you happy about a garden. Visit landscapes and make a record of what brings joy to your heart and soul. Even if you can’t make use of a particular idea this time around, store away that nugget of pleasure and bring it out the next time you want to create something. Use it to stretch your boundaries. In this day of the ubiquitous digital camera on every phone, take the time to capture the things that capture you. Some day, while working on some collaborative project, you’ll be glad you did.
Some day, in fact, might be today. After all, spring is coming!