Winter is the time to think about what your yard could be in the spring. A landscape designer can make it happen.
And if you want to get inspired about what your home outdoors can become, spend 20 minutes with Glenn Switzer. He’s a landscape designer from greater Minneapolis and owner of Switzer’s Nursery and Landscaping. He has the vision and enthusiasm for the work that you expect from a person who spent decades helping homeowners expand their living spaces outside.
Also, Switzer an advocate for designing and building landscapes that complement the home and its environment, while making the property more functional, beautiful and fun.
He’s also a bit of a “landscape whisperer.”
“The clients know a lot of what they want of their personality that they want to be in the design and if I had a dollar for every single time I’ve been asked ‘I know exactly what I want I just don’t know how to put it together,’” said Switzer. “That is what a landscape designer has spent their life learning and training themselves to come into that situation and help you sort it out.”
Switzer has prominent presence on YouTube with video stories and studies of innovative projects with an emphasis on natural materials. His tagline is “wood, steel and stone,” and clay pavers are one of Switzer’s favorite materials.
“I absolutely love working with clay pavers,” said Switzer. “The colors are as natural as can be and the colors never fade. They’re never forced. They just have so many honest welcoming vibes about clay pavers. You can really make a space very comfortable and warm and inviting.”
Working in Minnesota, Switzer can also attest to the durability of clay pavers through harsh winters.
Start with the biggest picture
“Holistic” describes Switzer’s approach to his client engagements. He likes to start with a very big picture view and really get an understanding for how the homeowner wants to create a landscape aligned with their lifestyle. Do they want private spaces outdoors? What parts of the yard do they want to invite guests into?
“I always start with the biggest of pictures—front yard to back—and then slowly work in to see what makes the most sense,” said Switzer. “So we’ll start with what’s important to you—how you take advantage of views and how you move inside and outside—and what activities you want to do. What do you want to accomplish?
“A designer can take these immediate needs and then layer them with future needs so a part of the project serves the immediate need, but at some point it’s easy to expand and do the second and the third phase.”
Once you have the bigger picture, you can pull in the swatches, samples, ideas and boards. Switzer likes Pinterest and Houzz as sources for this.
Designing outdoors is similar to interior design in this regard. You can create “foyers” where you welcome guests, very public patios where you entertain and more private “rooms”—maybe a garden space or hammock area tucked under a deck for quite reading—all connected by pathways…hopefully using clay pavers, of course!
While plans can be expansive and grand, they don’t necessarily have to happen all at once. You can break your outdoor makeover into chunks to accommodate budgets or just to pace a process that can involve a lot of earth moving.
Any pro tips for DIYers?
Switzer is a consummate landscaping artist and good salesman for his services, but he knows a lot of homeowners like to DIY landscaping projects, whether it’s totally on their own or augmenting one of his professional designs. For example, paver pathways or smaller patios.
“It can be very rewarding,” said Switzer. “But you need to know your limitations and know what’s available to you.”
Switzer points out that paver projects are easy to complete in phases, because a block of pavers can sit outside for years before you install them and the color will always match. And he advises DIYers to check out free how-to classes at design centers (or maybe Pine Hall Brick Paver Days demonstrations!) and watch a few online video tutorials.
Still, the biggest case for hiring a pro might be time. If you have expansive plans that you want complete by summer, hiring a crew is the way to go.“A professional team of six workers for a day is equal to eight Saturdays of DIY”
Expand your home outdoors
Your home outdoors can be a beautiful extension of the interior experience, for entertaining or quite reflection in a garden. Why not plan it with as much passion as your floorplan?
“If it’s done right, the line between inside and outside sometimes can easily be blurred,” said Switzer.