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Design-Build 101 for the Landscape Architect
Is playing in the dirt in your DNA? Does your dream job description start with “owner?” Design-Build PPN leaders, Jay Gehler, ASLA and Ron DuHamel, ASLA, presented their experiences in establishing design-build contracting businesses – from setting up shop to transitioning a project from initiation, design, contract, execution, management to close out – the resources and assets needed to be successful.
October 2021

Marketing Tips

Entering for awards, winning, and then using the winning photos as a marketing tool is a wonderful way to establish credibility within the industry and with potential clients. We would like to further elaborate on such award entries.

The PPN's past co-chairs were very active in their local ASLA chapter awards over the years. They were both on the committees, setting up judging, reviewing documents / submissions, and coordinating the awards banquets. Over the years, they have been able to hone their skills to identify what judges are looking for and what a good award entry consists of. Photographs are crucial in the telling of a story and establishing why your submission is unique and different from the next persons.

Consider submitting your projects to ASLA’s Professional Awards, your state ASLA Chapter, or your State or National Landscape Contractor’s Associations. Recognition builds credibility with potential clients and future employee prospects.

A few tips for you in your pursuit of award winning:

  • It is very important to show all four seasons of the gardens. The judges particularly like the Fall/Winter aspects because at that time of year the gardens are not actively used.
  • People in the pictures are also a plus and can create a vibrant submission. This is particularly important in intimate backyard patios as well as commercial areas.
  • It is also important that if one of your members are present in a photo that your logo or name is not shown as this can potentially lead to disqualification.
  • Take time to detail the property before taking photos. This may involve one or two days of prepping the property ahead of time including cleanup of the beds, weed removal or deadheading, assuring that you have mown lines on your lawns, etc.
  • Stage your photos to create dramatic and important views that will help support the narrative in your submission.
  • Be careful when using Photoshop to clean photographs. The judges will clearly see when a photo has been “touched up.”
  • Remember when you are taking photos that there are no garden hoses, wheelbarrows, or other distractions.
  • Always think of small details when taking photos. For example, if you are taking a photo of a patio and the umbrella is down on the table, put it up or push the chairs in.
  • Wetting down pavement before photographing only enhances the natural quality of the materials. This is particularly true with Bluestone.
  • A good time of the day to have a photo shoot is either in the morning or late afternoon when you get some great shadows and sun qualities. Photographing on a cloudy day can also produce some unique photos as well.
  • It is important when you photograph your entry to not only photo comprehensively but also take detail photos i.e. perhaps a brick or stone edge treatment, a detailed pruning of a topiary, or a mowing pattern right next to a chiseled edge garden bed.

One final thought: when you submit, you will typically need to submit a copy of the landscape plan. Like most plans, it may have gotten banged up in the process and not be presentable for submission. If necessary, take time to redraw the plans and add color to bring it life. Graphics are very important to provide an overall package for an award submission.

Don’t be disappointed if you do not win an award. Seek constructive criticism from the judges and re-submit in subsequent years. If possible, try to find out in advance who will be judging the entries. Sometimes doing some background research on the jury will allow you to play to their specific strengths.

To-Dos for Spring from the Design-Build PPN Leadership Team

  • Prune fruit trees and fruit bearing shrubs to shape and encourage fruit set.
  • Lightly rake lawn to prevent snow mold if snow has melted.
  • Dormant oil can be sprayed in temperatures over 40 degrees.
  • Check stored fertilizer and pesticide supplies noting expiration dates and plan for future purposes.
  • Dormant oil for leaf spot and Birch Borer.
  • Prune severely damaged plants. Ornamental grasses must be cut to allow for new growth.
  • Check winter covering; be careful not to remove too soon. Again, check trees and shrubs for rodent damage.
  • As weather permits, take samples of soil for testing on sites you may need additional information concerning soil conditions.
  • Start spring cleanup.
  • Check lawn for thatch build up. Thatch is dead surface roots; always water deeply so roots don’t grow to the surface.
  • Fertilize trees, evergreens, and shrubs – temperatures permitting.
  • Weather permitting, remove rose covers leaving soil mounted around plants.
  • Many varieties of summer bulbs can be potted now for earlier flowering.
  • Apply herbicide applications to ponds for weed control.
  • As soon as soil moisture allows, transplanting of dormant trees and shrubs can be undertaken.
  • Weather permitting, lawn fertilizer and pre-emergent weed killer may be applied where the soil temperature are above 50 degrees.


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