As co-chair of the Residential PPN, we are tasked with finding talented landscape architects to contribute to this blog. As a new-ish business owner (my firm is still in its toddler years; established in 2009), I could only hope that my friend Jan Johnsen would be willing to share her thoughts on starting up a new residential design business. Jan and I met in 2005 when we both began teaching at Columbia University’s Landscape Design program. Her design studios are a perennial favorite of students, particularly as the program often engages individuals with dreams of beginning their own firms. Jan owns and operates her own firm, writes a beautiful blog called Serenity in the Garden, and has a book being published in 2014 by St. Lynn’s press focused on creating gardens for inspiration and reflection. Jan’s thoughts below on beginning a firm are relevant not just to newbies, but also serve as a wonderful reminder of what is most important to operating a mature firm as well.
– Jennifer Horn, RLA, ASLA
Residential landscape design is one of the most fulfilling – and demanding – professions I know of. Fraught with all sorts of pitfalls, transforming someone’s property is a very personal and uplifting endeavor. I find it to be all consuming but in a wonderful sort of way. Does this sound like a two edged sword? It is as if I am saying ‘come, but stay away’ at the same time. Well, that is true. As in everything, there are 2 sides to the story and residential landscape design is definitely a ‘both sides, now’ undertaking.