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The Landscape Design Process: An Interview with Tim Schoeff of Genesis Landscape Group, Inc.

By Tim Schoeff

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

Genesis is a full-service landscape company specializing in residential and commercial landscape design and installation, landscape maintenance, hardscape construction, irrigation design and installation, installation and maintenance of annuals, perennials and wildflowers. We are located in Kennesaw, Georgia and have been in business for 25 years.

My partner, Barry Stern, is President of the company and has worked in the landscape business since 1969 and earned a B.S. degree in Horticulture from Purdue University in 1974. In 1978 Barry moved to Atlanta to start a landscape maintenance division for a local contractor. In March of 1990, Barry left to form our company, Genesis Landscape Group, Inc.

I attended Indiana University and was the Southeast Regional Sales Manager for the Putnam Publishing Group from 1980-1985. Moving to Atlanta in 1986, I was a Business Representative for the United States Chamber of Commerce until being recruited in November of 1987 as a landscape Sales/Account Manager. In August of 1990 I assumed my duties as Co-Owner and Vice-President of Genesis Landscape Group, Inc. I am a sales/service oriented person and since 1987, I have received intensive training and education in the green industry.

What are some important questions to ask the landscape designer before beginning the designing process?

Having completed the first step of learning what you can about the company and viewing photographs of their work via a web site and possibly social media pages, it is important to know how their experience and their methods will help you accomplish your goals. Ask questions!

    For example:
  • How does the design process work with Genesis?
  • Are there costs involved in having a design created by Genesis?
  • Does Genesis provide Design only services or require a Design/Build agreement?
  • Can we implement the design in phases and/or design to a budget?
  • Can we design for just specific areas on the property?
  • Can we do some of the installation work ourselves?

If you could, please list the steps of the general landscape design process:

This answers the 6 questions above. The first step in the Genesis design process is meeting the prospective client on site to learn first-hand what it is the owners wish to accomplish and to view the site in person. There is no cost for this consultation. We will look for and ask if there are problems such as drainage, erosion or lack of screening to consider. We will ask about desired visual enhancements, if there are color and plant preferences, is there an in-ground irrigation system, what are the conditions on site such as sunlight,etc. We will note existing plant material (what to keep, what to remove), and discuss options with you.

Genesis will ask questions, listen and take notes. With this information, Genesis designers will then prepare a scale drawing in most cases showing the design in detail, and will provide a proposal to accomplish the work. The presentation, whenever possible, is done by appointment at a convenient time for the customer, to show our design along with pictures of selected plants and hardscape features, go over the proposal and related costs and answer all questions. At that time the owner can OK the work or request modifications to the design, ask for time to consider, or direct Genesis to prioritize into a Phase One with the costs for that portion of the total design.

How do you suggest clients prepare for this process?

Have an idea of what you like and want or what you definitely do not like or want (pictures from magazines or printed from on-line help), determine specific areas you want to enhance and priorities, a clear description of problems occurring and a realistic budget if possible. We will candidly inform you if we think something you have requested does not work well and will have many suggestions as to what will remedy problems and/or beautify your environment. The more we know about you and what pleases you the higher probability our design ideas will succeed on all levels.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to designing landscapes?

We approach each job as a unique opportunity and each customer as a unique individual with their own set of needs, desires and tastes pertaining to their environment. A common issue for us is learning what those unique elements are, working what is practical into our designs, explaining why some desired elements may not be practical and why our suggested option will benefit them. Another issue that sometimes arises is when two owners have very separate ideas of what they want and our job becomes finding a common ground or compromise to please both.

It is important to us that expectations are accurate, that we describe what to expect initially, how the landscape will mature, proper care needed and so on. It is very important to us that our design does not just look good on paper, but that it looks great and performs well in the ground. The only surprise we want our customers to have is just how beautiful their newly enhanced landscaped areas are.

What advice do you have for the homeowner during this process?

Before the initial meeting, have a good idea what you want or do not want, how you will use an area, what bothers you about the current conditions of your property, and how much you are willing to spend to accomplish your goals. During the meeting be prepared to convey this information with words and possibly pictures. Be open to ideas you have not considered big or small.

It can be amazing how a small adjustment to a bed line, a small addition of new turf, adding an element of height or removing an existing tree or shrub can completely change and improve the way your landscape frames the house, draws the eye to a desirable feature or improves conditions for other options. Hire an insured professional and make sure you are comfortable with your choice.

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

Check our website at for information and examples of our work plus contact information via email or phone. Our office number is 770 422-5534, fax number is 770 422-0225, and email is We also have a Face Book page We are in and out of the office from 6:45a.m.-6:00p.m. Monday thru Friday but often out on our properties during the day. Please leave a message when prompted if no one answers. We will quickly respond.

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About The Author

Tim Schoeff, Vice-President, attended Indiana University and was the Southeast...

Phone: 770 422-5534

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