I haven’t been overly aware of the multitude of on line design services such as Yardzen, Shrub hub, Tilly, or Baquyard. I’m sure there are many more and more on the horizon as convenience seems to be one of the major advantages. In this article, I’ll offer more consideration to the Pros & Cons of on-line design services.

As we’ve become a society who never has to interact with others or leave our homes to shop our lives have become so one dimensional to have everything at our fingertips. For years now we’ve enjoyed Amazon.com for any retail item and for it to be delivered to our doorsteps. And we won’t even discuss the many options of having meals or groceries delivered. Technology has been a tremendous thing in the offering of efficiency and convenience. And again, we’ve come a long, long way since picking up our movies at Blockbuster.

And of course so much has changed since the early days of the Covid pandemic. No one wanted to leave their homes and no one wanted to interact with anyone face to face if they didn’t have to. Necessity is after all the mother of invention.

The past two and a half years have been the busiest and most productive in my entire 20 plus year career offering landscape design services… especially during the pandemic. We could meet outside and social distance to some extent. However with these not too distant memories behind us (mostly until the next new variant) we’ve become complacent as to our mindset of how things get done.

Keep in mind with the Pros and Cons of on-line design services, that some of these new companies are founded by tech entrepreneurs who have no background in landscape architecture, design or horticulture. Sure they may have a fondness for the outdoors (who doesn’t). Some had stated that they felt designers demanded to meet during working hours. I’ve always accommodated clients when necessary with evening or Saturday meetings. But with on-line design you don’t have to schedule any meetings (well, unless you do decide to have a phone or video meeting with your appointed designer. Remember you don’t get to choose the designer you’ll be entrusting your project with. Sure, the on –line service may cost less. This is a business model with an entire design team supposedly at your disposal. This could be great, or there may be too many cooks in the kitchen…. Certain elements may be misconstrued or impacted with too many ideas only to dilute the real goals of the project. These designers are working on the clock and have to produce results with the expectations of turning a profit…. Or not spending any more time than they have to in developing a design. And just where are these designers? Some designers maybe working remotely from another geographic region of the country. Are they aware of the plant material and or other local materials in San Diego. Are they aware of our Mediterranean climate? And do they understand the differences in our micro-climates?

Pros and Cons of on-line design services

And if these designers do this day in and day out, I’d expect a certain rate of “burn out” or also attrition, leaving their positions for yet another new hire to fulfill. Hopefully these companies have great benefits and profit sharing for their employees to stay motivated.
With the Pros and Cons of on-line design services I’ve read that some users spend 3 hours to fill out questionnaires and download photos or videos of their yards ….talk about efficiency. Not as much for the end user. Some cons that keep coming up is the disconnect of the spatial elements of the site. Who measures the grades or changes in elevation on a site? In fact, who measures the entire yard space? Valid dimensions of all elements on the site are critical, otherwise it is garbage in and garbage out. In some cases, having photos of the space may do, but when there is construction of key elements such as new steps, retaining walls, pergolas, fire features, etc. leaving anything to chance will likely be a waste of money. A few other aspects to consider is drainage. That’s just not something a photo will reveal.

Multiple elevations for this design

In my practice, I’ve never bid on a design project site unseen. I recently had a nice young couple invite me to meet and view their front yard. The next day they inform me that an on-line design service will do their entire yard for the amount I quoted for the front yard. I told them I’d have to see the backyard space and learn where they wanted to add a deck (and based on size or an overhanging grade factor it may need permits and engineering). Every outdoor space is unique with its own nuance. Factor in what the entire neighborhood looks like, noise from traffic, neighboring amenities and so forth… just how is this information conveyed to an on-line design company?

 

When you are investing $20,000 or $120,000 having a relationship with the individual who is creating the design seems well worth the time and effort. Many designers work differently. I offer to create two conceptual designs (and a third when required) to convey ideas to my clients. Being at the table to see a client’s reaction of the ideas and expressing the thought behind a design element is priceless. On-line design services don’t offer any on site follow up. I will stop by at some time while in construction and when requested a follow meeting or walk through when the project is complete.

Why chance some of these issues when you can work with someone local. Work with someone who has 20+ years of experience in the industry providing exceptional service. Contact Letz Design Landscape today for a complimentary consultation. Saturday appointments available!