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Designing Your Perfect Yard: An Interview with Pat Sellenraad of Designscapes, Inc

By Patrick Sellenraad

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Designscapes, Inc. is a Landscape Architecture firm. Much like an architectural firm, we do design and project management, not installation. It's also a small firm. When you call, I'm the person you will be working with from the begining to the end of your project. This provides a great deal of continuity and piece of mind for my clients.

What is your educational background?

I have a degrees in horticulture from Michigan State University and landscape architecture from The Ohio State University. I also have an extensive background in construction, outdoor living spaces, irrigation, and lighting. Having worked in this industry for over 35 years, I have the experience and education to create great looking designs that function well over time.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Typically, I collaborate with my clients to develop the general concept for the site. This serves as a "road map" for the project. Once that is completed, I can figure out the construction details and approximate budget. Once those plans are completed, we invite pre-qualified contractors to submit bids for construction. My job is to act as the owner's representative; making sure the design intent is followed and finding solutions to problems that might occur during construction.

As a landscape architect, share your opinion on why creating a pleasant outdoor living space is important for every home?

The outdoor living space is more than just making a house look pretty. It's what makes a house a home. It's an extension of the homeowner's identity, creating spaces for entertaining, recreation, and enjoyment of their own special place.

How should one prepare for working with a design professional?

The most helpful thing for me is to know how people intend to use their home, so I can design to satify their needs. I need to know if they like to entertain, or just create a private and secluded place? Do they like to garden, or do they want minimal maintenance? Do they like a formal and manicured look, or a landscape that is more free flowing? These are just some of the things we discuss that help guide the design process.

What maintenance is required for someone who wishes to create a concrete design in their yard?

Maintenance levels are very dependent on the overall design of the project and the materials selected. Since most people are looking to minimize the maintenance, I'm usually working to find plants and surfaces that are easy to take care of. Knowing what works best for a particular situation is one of the most important contributions I can make to ensure a project is easy to care for.

What suggestions do you have for someone who wants to improve a notoriously rocky or weed ridden area in their lawn?

Roundup and compost! Killing off the persistent weeds with Roundup is step number one. Then, improving the soil with compost will provide the basis for a vigorous lawn that keeps the weeds from coming back. Finally, use the best seed you can find for your situation.

Do you have any suggestions for easy DIY projects that greatly improve curb appeal?

Remove the low hanging branches of trees that hide the house. Then rip out any overgrown plants and replace them with simple plantings that add color. Most importantly, enlist the help of a professional during the design process. This will save you a great deal of money and frustration in the end.

In your personal opinion, what is your favorite lawn feature, and why? (e.g. fire pit, rock garden, mulch covered areas, fountains, etc.)

Water is probably the most important but under used element. This can be a very simple and low maintenance feature. The tranquil sound of moving water creates an ambiance that helps you unwind at the end of the day.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

They can usually reach me by phone, at 989.798.6477. An e-mail also works great: dscapes@dscapes.com.

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About The Author

Patrick Sellenraad is the Owner of Designscapes, Inc. He graduated from Michigan...

Phone: 989-652-4981

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