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How Custom Home Builders in Lancaster PA and Landscape Designers Work Together for a Dream Come True

Posted On: January 10,2018 By: Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.Imagine planning your gorgeous custom dream home and finding out later that it is spectacular in every way except one—the outdoor area. It would feel like a major letdown. Whether it’s a boring and not-so-functional patio or landscaping hillside areas for getting the most use out of the land, outdoor areas have the ability to really burst your dream bubble if it doesn’t fit the look and function of the rest of the space.

Unfortunately, it happens more than you’d realize.

We have seen plenty of Lancaster-area homeowners who have spectacular custom homes built for them. But they wind up stuck with a pretty standard patio, a plain concrete walkway, or even a backyard that is not conducive to their future plans.

We’ve seen homeowners wind up with a yard in which the right spacing for a pool or a pavilion was not accounted for and they had to go much smaller or change their plans altogether. Even worse, we’ve seen some homeowners decide to sell their homes because they couldn’t put a pool in. It wasn’t planned for at the time of construction and now it’s not feasible.

These frustrated homeowners wish they had made decisions differently when they had the opportunity.


Great Experiences

Let’s be clear. We have a lot of really great custom home builders in Lancaster, PA. They work with excited homeowners to create the best home for their budget. In a lot of cases, the outdoor areas aren’t a main area of focus and because homeowners are most often attentive to enhancing the house itself, there are some things that just never get looked at in advance.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way to make sure all details are accounted for, even if it’s not part of your first phase of developing your dream home and property.

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.The solution is working with a landscape design expert during the home building process. While there are many landscape designers in Lancaster, PA, a job of a grand  scope may not be suited for just any landscape company.

You want to find a company with a landscape architect in Lancaster, PA. When it comes to creating a dream backyard that complements your custom dream home, a Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) is going to be a huge advantage as they will be able to read building plans, have some experience with serious issues like drainage, and will be trained to see ways in which the home design can be improved to integrate with any initial or future outdoor improvements.

With an RLA on your team, whenever your project is finished, it will be truly finished the way you want rather than having to go back and hire a landscape company to make costly improvements after the fact.


Thinking Outside the Box

There are a lot of “small details” when it comes to designing a backyard that can actually have a big impact on your overall enjoyment of the space. This is where a landscape design expert is going to focus differently in their thinking as compared to the custom home builders in Lancaster, PA. All of those small details really do matter and you want to find landscape designers in Lancaster, PA that will think about them.

Here are just a few examples of ideas a landscape design expert, such as Earth, Turf, & Wood, might contribute to an outdoor space.

Creating a Master Plan

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.An RLA will help put together a master plan for the outdoor living area that will account for the future. This is important to do before construction even begins. Of course, you don’t have to build the outdoor living area at that point, but at least you’ll know that it will work for you when the time comes to do so.

Even if you don’t build certain elements of your master plan early on or with the initial construction, their future location should play an important role. Items such as sewer systems, electrical lines, or gas lines can be planned for in advance. 

We also have had multiple clients need to buy the next door lot or add to their lot because they didn’t have room to do what they wanted to do. This could have been avoided with a master plan prior to construction.  

Window Location

It might be surprising that a landscape designer would have any sort of input to the builder on the windows, but we have spoken up about this very feature. If you’re having an unbelievable backyard built, you want to be able to see it and enjoy it, from inside of the home.

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.

Builders have so many details to think about so they appreciate us being focused on the outdoor aspects of the project (so they don’t have to be), as well as how the interior of the project may be affected. We’ve made suggestions about window locations that would give the best possible views of your outdoor living area.


A builder might propose a deck and stairway for your outdoor living plan but might not be looking at (or even know at the time) the future scope of the project if it’s not part of their contract. For instance, a detail such as where the staircase “drops you off” can be impacted by the future of your outdoor living area. Your future plans might include a pool.

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.

If that’s the case, you’ll want the stairs to lead your guests in that direction. The view is important, too. You don’t want a staircase to obstruct anyone’s view of that gorgeous future pool so we’ll think about that now, too.


An Eye for Outdoor Living Design

While a home builder has a great eye for design, they’re likely focused on the home itself and aren’t thinking about the details outside of your home at great length. But an RLA can make minor tweaks that end up having a big overall impact on the design. For example, an RLA can help coordinate the perfect elevation of your pool to ensure that it’s seen from various areas of the property, giving you a truly spectacular view.

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.

An RLA can also make sure that outdoor living areas are appropriately spaced distance-wise from one another so that you can still see your kids swimming while you’re in the outdoor kitchen, but you’re not right on top of the pool. An RLA will ensure that your space is used wisely.

Outdoor Lighting and Electric

While most builders will include a small amount of outdoor lighting on a custom home job, you may want more than just the basic package for your spectacular custom property. This is where an RLA can make a big difference. From path lights lining your walkways to uplighting the architectural details of your home to even adding built-in lights to your steps, an RLA will have expert design ideas to enhance your outdoor space with landscape lighting.

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.

They’ll also pay attention to the “small details,” such as the location of electrical outlets. You might want various outlets on your patio so that you can charge your mobile devices but you’ll want them strategically placed in a way that makes them highly usable without being obtrusive to the aesthetics. An RLA will think of those details and make sure the construction plans have even future utility runs in place for a later stage (saving you money).

Grading and Drainage

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.Issues such as grading and drainage can be very complex and while your builder might make adjustments, oftentimes it may be done in a way that has no bearing on any future outdoor living areas you may create. But bringing in an RLA could help you to correct any present issues and also think about future considerations should you be adding a pool, pavilion, or other structure down the road.

An RLA will help create a master plan for your property, ensuring that the grading is accounted for at the time of construction. Though it may not even change the builder’s quote, planning for big additions that are set to occur in your future is a wise way to reduce headaches (such as re-tearing up your yard) and cost down the road.



An Early Impact

As we mentioned, if you’re looking into landscape designers in Lancaster, PA, specifically, companies that have an RLA, it’s really important to bring them into the project early on. While you might be thinking of landscape projects as the “finishing touch,” the truth is that they should be planned for before construction on your home even begins.

Pre-planning is key. Do not start home construction without a master plan from an RLA upfront or you might not be able to get the outdoor space you truly wanted. Pre-planning will also save you tens of thousands of dollars down the road by not requiring modifications to your yard. Everything will be accounted for, including spacing, from the very start.


Your Dream Team for Your Dream Home

Custom home builders and landscape designers in Lancaster, PA work together for success.The last thing you want is to have to compromise on your dream. At Earth, Turf, & Wood, we have worked alongside many custom home builders in Lancaster, PA. It has been a valuable partnership for both of us. Builders appreciate our outdoor design expertise as it makes their clients happier.

Don’t get stuck with a boring and dysfunctional landscape that detracts from your gorgeous dream home. There’s no reason that has to happen.

At the end of the day, adding that extra layer of professional experience to your dream home design will help ensure that it comes together the way you truly want. When custom home builders in Lancaster, PA and landscape architects truly work together, you reap the benefits with an amazing home that is surrounded by a gorgeous and functional outdoor living area. It’s the total package.

If you’d like to have a landscape design expert plan your dream backyard around your dream home in Lancaster, York, Hershey, or Reading, PA, then contact us for a free consultation and get ready to see your ideas come to life.

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Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Written by Mary Dresser, RLA ALSA

Mary Hatch Dresser is a Registered Landscape Architect with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia School of Environmental Design. Mary has designed landscapes for 32 years and joined ETW exclusively in 2009. Mary is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA); and also serves on the Shade Tree Committee in Strasburg Borough where she resides. Mary prides herself in carefully listening to her clients to professionally meld their ideas and personal criteria with sound, experienced design practice.

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Serving Southeast Pennsylvania including: Lancaster, Reading, Lebanon, York, Hershey, Harrisburg and surrounding areas.