Heather Murrey - Landscape Design

Hiring a Landscape Designer

About to start a landscape design project & unsure of how to weed through the multitude of professionals to hire the best one? It is important to feel comfortable with the landscape designer you choose and trust them to understand your individual style and project needs. While interviewing possible candidates, focus on some of these key questions in order to seek out a fit that is right for you.

In this “Ask a Designer” series, meet designer, Heather Murrey:

Heather Murrey - Landscape Design

What led you to pursue landscape architecture?

“Growing up, I always knew I would work in design. I had a passion for it early on and my dad was in the landscape construction business. So naturally, the outdoors, plants, and landscaping has always had a large presence in my life. Though I got distracted along the way (my college degree is in education), I eventually found a way to come back to my true passion of design, combined with my love for the outdoors.”

What tips do you have for choosing the right landscape designer for your property?

“The best advice I can give for helping someone to choose the right designer is to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I like their style? Have they created anything that draws me in? This style could be in a landscape they previously designed, the way their office is decorated, even the way they dress.
  • Do our personalities click? Is this someone I can envision working well with? Do they listen when I speak and place value on  my ideas? Or do they talk over me and discredit all my opinions?
  • Do I value their opinion? If you’re going to trust the designer, you want to feel comfortable accepting their advice.

Why 3D design compared to regular landscape designs?

“2D is the old way of doing things. While I have uber appreciation for a good 2D hand sketch, 3D design provides the ability to see and feel the design as if it already exists. 3D allows us to communicate better with our clients on our design intent. 3D also allows our clients to have a real understanding of what their garden will look like, along with providing them the opportunity to better communicate their expectations. The client can then also can communicate what they do and do not like to the landscape designer before the construction process begins.”

Modern Pool and Landscape

How do you consider lifestyles when you’re designing?

“In my opinion, how a client lives their life is one of the most important aspects we consider during the design. We try to create intentional spaces to be experienced and enjoyed by our clients. A garden is meant to be experienced, whether that is reading a book in a lounge chair, clipping flowers from a cutting garden, providing a sensory experiences through sight, sound, and smell, or simply leading one’s eye to a point of interest or destination. Whatever you enjoy, we want you to enjoy doing that in your garden. As a landscape designer, there is no better compliment than when a client sends a photo or tells a story of how they are using their outdoor spaces.”

What do you consider to be the most overlooked aspect of landscape design?

“I think the most overlooked aspect of landscape design is purpose, which is why I focus so heavily on lifestyle and personal interests. If the garden or landscape has no purpose, it has very little likelihood it will be experienced and used.”

What is a landscape trend you forecast will become popular with clients?

“A trend I am forecasting (or would like to manifest) is what I am calling ‘The Useful Garden’. The Useful Garden would incorporate your every day into your outdoor space and change the way you live. In the useful garden, plants are there to satisfy all 5 of your senses.

  • Smell: enjoying fragrant blooms throughout the year
  • Sight: viewing pleasant textures and colors
  • Taste: experiencing plants that are not only beautiful to look at but are good for cooking, eating, and healing
  • Sound: listening to life happening as the breeze blows through the grasses, birds chirp, or bees buzz
  • Touch: taking clippings of your favorite blooms and creating something beautiful to sit on your table

How do you find inspiration?

“I draw my inspiration from any and everything…no matter where I am or what I am doing, I am constantly looking for things that inspire me.”

Inspired by the Louisiana architecture of A. Hays Town, this client set out to replicate a Louisiana courtyard in the midst of this creekside estate. A pool was the centerpiece of the design, and it was anchored by an antique brick clad spa. The spa, strategically placed on the home's main axis, was specifically purposed to replicate a courtyard fountain. The vegetation includes a mixture of trimmed boxwood hedges, ferns, and azaleas, as well as a variety of other broad leafed plants. The potted plants add seasonal interest and year-round decor. This project also features the best in outdoor living. A copper screened cabana house includes an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, and temperature controls for year round comfort. There is an outdoor firepit and seating area, sheltered by a vine covered trellis.

Heather loves ferns for their versatility. The holy fern in this planting provide both texture and a lush evergreen feel. 

Do you have a favorite plant?

“Good question! I have about 50 favorite plants. It seems every new project usually brings about a new way to use an old favorite, making it my new favorite all over again! That said, my current favorite plants combinations are:

  • Laurel hedges with loose flowering shrubs such as hydrangea.
  • Fields of wispy grasses with wildflowers and perennials dispersed throughout. I like the soft and often more muted color of the grass with the contrast of flowers and the surprises they bring as the seasons change.
  • Ferns. I love ferns of all kinds! I love how versatile the fern is as it easily fits into most landscape styles.”

Thanks for your thoughts, Heather! Make sure to read more thoughts on the subject on our interview with Matthew Murrey.

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