You’ve finally decided it’s time to revamp your back yard, front yard or maybe even both.  Thinking of adding a pool? Maybe you have an old pool that needs a facelift?  Where do you begin? Meeting with a professional landscape designer, pool designer or landscape architect to help you out with your project is the best place to start.  Here are six things that you should know before you go into that meeting that will help the designers master plan your dream environment!

1) Family
Your family members are the ones that will be using the space most often so bring a list of all family members including their ages (don’t forget the pets, they are family too).  Make sure to include a list of hobbies they may have, especially if they relate to the outdoors!  Designs can vary greatly depending on the age range of all family members that could be using the spaces.
 2) Existing Conditions
Know what your problems are and maybe some opportunities about your current site.  Every persons taste is different.  You may hate the way a row of evergreen trees blocks a view from your house but your designer may love the way they sit on your site.  Unless they know you don’t like it may not get changed in the design.  Bring a list of current front yard and back yard problems that you think should be minimized or overcome in the design.  Also, bring a list of all the positive elements and qualities of the yards that should be retained or enhanced in the design.
 3. Desired Outdoor Activities
This is the must have on the entire list!  Will you be cooking, eating, sitting, relaxing, or reading?  Maybe you will be entertaining large groups of guests. Do you garden, or bird watch? Any recreational activities like swimming, basketball, throwing baseball or throwing football?  All of these outdoor activities need to be taken into consideration for a good plan, so make sure to know what you and your family will be doing outdoors.
4. Desired Site Character
How do you want your site to look?  Are you looking to have a formal design?  Do you want an informal design?  Maybe you are thinking of going modern.  Do you like the open air or more of a wooded landscape with shade and privacy?  Knowing what you like is big and very beneficial to the designers.
 5. Materials
Know what you like most for pavements, fences walls etc. Do you like a lot of colorful plants? List your favorite plants, flowers, trees etc. Don’t forget to list what you do not like as well.
 6. Budget
Know how much you are willing to spend. Keep in mind there is a initial cost of getting the new landscaping, pool, outdoor kitchen, etc. but there is also the annual cost of maintenance that has to be considered too.  Knowing what you are willing to spend on annual basis for the next five years will prevent any maintenance sticker shock that may occur.

Knowing these 6 things will help you and the designer get you through the entire design process with minimal surprises and it will also help them provide a better estimate that fits in your budget.