Getting your client to express their true wants and needs for their landscape isn’t always easy. Some homeowners have trouble visualizing a finished hardscape, and they rely on you for advice. Here is how to assist York, PA, clients when it comes time to choose hardscape materials.
Ask Big-Picture Questions
Help your clients visualize the finished hardscape by asking specific questions that help the both of you develop a rough mental picture of what they want:
How they will use this space?
How often do they entertain?
What special features will they want to put in place (i.e. outdoor fireplace, outdoor kitchen, horseshoe pit)?
What are the specific needs of each family member (i.e. play area for kids, basketball court, zen garden)?
What is their budget?
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Then Dig Into the Details
Once you and your clients are on the same page about how the new outdoor living space will be used, it’s time to move into specific materials that will bring this vision closer to reality. Specific questions at this stage center on the design aesthetics of colors and styles they find desirable, and how each design choice will affect the budget.
For color, you want to get your clients thinking about the tone they’re hoping to set. Show the client how a particular color scheme will work with the existing color scheme of their home and its surroundings. Blue and greenish tints, for example, have a cooling and soothing spa-like effect and make spaces feel larger. Reds and oranges have a welcoming warmth that encourages outdoor gatherings. Grays and beiges are neutral and offer timeless elegance.
Another important consideration is the kind of shapes they find appealing. Pavers come in a huge variety of shapes ranging from brick to large format squares and rectangles, giving homeowners many options for complementing a particular architectural style.
And finally, you’ll want to discuss texture. Natural textures like fieldstone have uneven contours that can fit right in for a rustic country home. Tumbled pavers or brick give a timeless look to a traditional home. Smooth, sleek surfaces would complement a minimalist modern home.
Explain the Technical and Budget Realities
As you get closer to understanding what your clients want and expect, you’ll need to educate them on the technical properties of the materials they’re leaning toward (permeability, ease of installation, durability, etc.) as well as how these materials fit into their budget.
To help people envision the finished product, you’ll want to draw it out for them—either literally on a piece of paper or by using the latest technologies to give your clients a visual of what you’re picturing for their hardscape project.
This process invites creativity and innovation; it says, “I’m here to express what you want, not what I think you should have,” and helps your client see that you are listening to them. Don’t underestimate the value of sketches, because as you and the client collaborate on the design, there are bound to be changes. It’s here when you’ll know for sure which hardscape materials are the best for your clients’ wishes, whether they want a meandering walkway that leads to a quiet sitting area or a full-fledged outdoor room with a large patio seating area next to a kitchen.