About Us

Design Process

Zaretsky and Associates’ design process is as follows:

Our relationship begins with your phone call to us. During this call, we will gather initial information on what you are looking to accomplish. We’ll set a time to meet and take a look at your site. Expect to meet with us up to three weeks after this phone call, depending on your schedule and ours.

Next, we’ll send you a letter confirming our appointment and giving you some homework. You’ll need to start thinking more in depth about what you want. Are there areas that are too sunny? Too windy? Do you have problems with drainage? Do you need more privacy? Do you want a deck? Patio? Pool? Do you barbecue often? We’ll ask you to dig out a survey map showing us the property lines and any utility easements that may be on your property. Any magazines or pictures that inspire you would help. Did you take pictures of a beautiful garden on your last vacation? Let’s take a look at them.

And you’ll need to start thinking about a budget. Keep in mind that your work can and will be divided up into segments, so think about a yearly budget, if that helps, rather than the project as a whole.

Then we’ll meet, most often at the site. The site could be your home, or the site of a new home you’re building. It’s never too early in the building process to meet. In fact, we love to see the site before clearing begins. It gives us the opportunity to work with your building contractor to preserve trees, lay out where additional electrical outlets and hose bibs may be necessary, and any other things that will help to make the process smoother for all of us.

We’ll walk the site, talking about what you are looking to accomplish. After this initial walk, we’ll discuss the fee for designing your landscape. If you wish to have time to think about it, you can take a look at our portfolio and we’ll leave you with a list of references. If the fee is acceptable to you, then the questions begin. This is where your homework will pay off. All of those things that we made you think about will now be tossed back to us. We’ll walk the site, making notes, taking measurements and pictures. You can sit and relax, looking through our portfolio. We will ask you for half of the design fee before we leave; the balance will be due upon presentation of the plan. We’ll leave you with a detailed questionnaire (or email it to you if you’d prefer). This questionnaire will become the backbone of our design.

After a period of time (usually three or four weeks), we’ll call you back to set an appointment to review your plan. This can happen at the site or in our office. We insist that all parties in the decision-making process be at this meeting. This eliminates any miscommunications. Many times we’ve heard that “my husband/wife doesn’t care about this. It’s my project…” only to find out later that the other spouse did care and didn’t like some details in the plan, which could have been discussed at this meeting. This invariably causes a delay in the scheduling.

You will receive a copy of your plan (usually inked and colored, with elevation drawings), a proposal based on that plan, and a portfolio of information about Zaretsky and Associates. We will also take all the time necessary to answer your questions. It is at this meeting that the design fee balance will be due.

Keep in mind that even though the plan that we present to you is detailed, and a proposal based on that plan is included, we still consider the plan to be a concept. This means that any revisions based on your wishes can be made. Please do not feel that this is the only thing we’ll do. In fact, we are constantly revising the plan, even while your project is being installed. This is the design-build process in action. And it’s where trust comes in. The only thing that we ask from you is trust. Trust us to create the work of art that you have wished for, and we promise that you will not be disappointed.

Then we leave you alone. We won’t call you fourteen times to ‘ask for the sale’. We may call you once to ask if you have any questions. Or drop a note in the mail. But the proverbial ball is in your court. When you are ready to make a decision, we will be here. For you.