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"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." - Ghandi
As a landscape designer, Jim McSweeney works with each client individually to craft a landscaping that matches their vision. This entails a three step process: meeting with the homeowner for preliminary consultation, designing a possible plan for the site, and finally installation, where the project becomes a reality.
Every completed job has a unique assortment and arrangement of different elements. Some common features are ornamental or fruit trees, stylized cottage or formal gardens, native flowers and grasses, or a flagstone path or patio. See Hilltown Tree & Garden's "Master Plant List" to see a selection on some of the most commonly used plants. All designs and consolations have permaculture as their backbone. Permaculture is the development of horticultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
The following will take you through the design / installation process step-by-step:
1st - Consultation
This first meeting normally takes between 2 ½ -3 hours. The consultation has three main components:
- Jim McSweeney, Hilltown Tree & Garden's owner and operator, spends this time doing a preliminary site analysis with the client. They look at the soil, sun/shade issues, topography, microclimates, drainage, etc.
- After these have been assessed a discussion is had on what the client wants. Is low maintenance the highest priority? Or is it attracting wildlife to the gardens? What are the long and short-term goals? They will then receive conceptual ideas and professional recommendations.
- Lastly they talk numbers. What would be the estimated cost to design and install the envisioned landscape.
For most consultations there is a 0 charge. If hired for the installation then this fee is credited back.
2nd - Design
A well thought out design like this one can result in future cost savings because it will eliminate otherwise unforeseen installation issues surrounding soil, sun/shade, topography, micro-climates or drainage.
Most designs require a non-scaled sketch that will illustrate the conceptual landscape plan or garden envisioned by Jim. But depending on the scope and complexity of the project a scaled blue print may be required. Along with this a design will normally include: a soil test, plant & material list, timeline, terms & conditions, construction specifications and a cost breakdown with a fixed price to do clearly established work.
All of this is normally achieved through multiple site visits, which build on what was learned in the initial consultation. There are normally 2-3 meetings (or phone appointments) with the client during this process. It allows them to be a part of the process, which results in the finished design exceeding expectations.
A well thoughtout design will result in future cost savings because it will eliminate otherwise unforeseen issues that could arise during the course of the installation.
- The fee for the design is a fixed price that is stated at the time of consultation. Designs normally cost between $500-$1000, but prices do vary.
- Smaller projects often forgo a number of the above steps.
3rd - Installation
Hilltown Tree And Garden provides a wide range of installation services that are carried out with over 70 years of accumulated landscape construction experience. They take pleasure in their craftsmanship and it shows in their work. They are committed to offering competitive rates and superior construction.
Now it is time to get dirty. Jim and the crew install the plants, soil, stone or whatever is going into the earth. The area is cleaned up and the installation is completed.